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February 03, 2022

Disrupting the Representation Status Quo

Tamara P. Nash

America champions the rallying call, “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Yet, we are a nation with historically stagnant representation—the status quo for government officials has traditionally been white men.

However, the status quo is shifting profoundly.

Underrepresented communities are demanding a seat at the table, and throughout the past few years, we have witnessed historic elections in our local, state, and federal offices.

A Seat at the Table

Decisions are made at the table, and ideas are exchanged to find meaningful solutions. Therefore, all voices must be heard. The table should and must represent the full diversity of our rich citizenship.

Having a seat means more than getting to sit down; it means being included and being heard.

As we look to disrupt the representation status quo, we must look around the table and ask who is at the table? More specifically, do we listen to every voice? Are we amplifying every voice? Does every voice have a say in the decisions being made? How are we adding seats to the table?

The Role of Young Lawyers

Young lawyers specifically have a role to play in disrupting the representation status quo. While we all are not the head of the table (yet), we can still exercise influence—no matter where our seat is.

Once we secure the opportunity to sit at the table, we must “speak truth to power, especially from positions of power” (Attorney General Aaron Ford) and utilize our unique voice to seek meaningful change.

Serving as the bridge between the past and the future, we, as young lawyers, carry the opportunity to dedicate our unique skills, passions, and talents, to impact our respective communities through service and social advocacy, in turn ensuring our communities are empowered to thrive.

As young lawyers, the key is to get in the ring. Aligning our opportunity to seek change with the passion and opportunity to serve.

Join Us

I challenge you to join the fight.

Be unapologetically bold and celebrate who you are and what you bring to the table.

Do not wait for an invitation to claim your seat.

While the table may look different from how you envisioned, do not be afraid to build your seat and, most importantly, don’t forget to pull up a chair for the person who will come after you.

Raise your voice. It must be heard.

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Tamara P. Nash

Administrative Director for the ABA Young Lawyers Division

Tamara P. Nash serves as a prosecutor in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Her practice focuses on the prosecution of firearm and narcotics offenses. She currently serves as the administrative director for the ABA Young Lawyers Division.