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The Diverse Leaders Academy (DLA) provides opportunities for lawyers in underrepresented groups such as racially/ethnically diverse lawyers, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lawyers, to participate in leadership roles within the Litigation Section. The Program seeks to attract, retain, and develop talented diverse Section leaders and further demonstrate the Section’s commitment to ensuring equal opportunity in the profession. The Program also creates an important pipeline of future leaders of the Section.

The 2024–2026 application process is now open. View the application here. The deadline to apply is May 31, 2024.

We are hosting an info session on Wednesday, April 17 at 11 AM CT for those interested in learning more about our leadership pipeline programs and what it means to be a leader within the Litigation Section. Our panel of YLLP and DLA graduates will talk about the value of leadership, how to make the best of your time within these programs, and the application process. Register here for the free informational session.

Please contact Erin Stanton with any questions.

The Program

  • Provides exposure to a broad range of issues and mentorship opportunities with senior leadership;
  • Involves lawyers in committee project/program development and implementation;
  • Enhances participants’ leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving skills; and
  • Promotes and fosters the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession as a whole.

DLA participants will become members of a Section committee or task force, engage in substantive work, and be paired with a mentor from the Section’s experienced leaders. In addition, DLA representatives are expected to attend the Fall Leadership Meeting and the Section’s Annual Conference during each year of the Program. Maximum reimbursement is $2,000 per year per individual to attend these in-person meetings.*


Each applicant must be:

  • A practicing lawyer for at least five years;
  • A member of the ABA and the Section of Litigation for at least one full Bar year prior to application;
  • A member of one of the underrepresented groups who practices litigation in a law firm, corporate entity, legal services organization, or government agency; and
  • A member whose practice coincides with the work of a substantive committee of the Section.

While favorable consideration is given to applicants who are active members of a national bar association for lawyers of color or other applicable affinity bar group, being an active member of such organizations or groups is not a requirement.

Application Process

Each applicant must complete an online application along with the following documentation:

  • Up to three letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Cover letter describing why the applicant is interested in being a Diverse Leaders Academy participant
  • Potential plans or thoughts for using the experience and “lessons learned” during the years that follow to support the Section in the future

The Program selects participants and funds their expenses up to the maximum reimbursement of $2,000* for up to two years, subject to revocation should any participant fail to fulfill the expectations set forth herein. Additional reimbursement details will be shared upon program acceptance.  After two years, a participant will be eligible to apply for open leadership positions, and will be considered on the same basis as all other applicants.


September 1, 2024 through August 31, 2026

Selection Process

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Chairs, Section Chair Elect, and the Committees Manager will oversee the process by which applicants are selected. This Program focuses on cultivating and identifying lawyers with leadership potential. Successful candidates will demonstrate a history of bar involvement on the national, state, or local level, public service, and professional excellence.


Applicants will be notified no later than July 31, 2024.

*Reimbursement includes lowest available coach airfare, a per diem toward lodging, and ground transportation. The Section does not reimburse individuals who are entitled to reimbursement from their firms, employers, or a third party.