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June 12, 2014 Diversity & Inclusion

My Path to Serving the Profession

A young attorney's journey from Jamaica to a career in litigation.

By Ghenete Wright Muir

My parents left the island of Jamaica in search of better opportunities in the United States. After becoming educated here, they returned home to serve their country. They both worked for the Jamaican government as well as for not-for-profits and were passionate about community service. I am the product of people who spent their lives in the service of others and who knew the value of education. 

I was born in New York City and moved to Kingston, Jamaica, at age five. I remember the first time I saw poverty-ridden communities there, how they stood in stark contrast to my well-groomed middle-class neighborhood. I also saw children whose parents simply could not afford to send them to school. Growing up in that reality made me abundantly aware that education was a tremendous opportunity I must never take for granted. I returned to the United States 10 years later and brought with me a passion to serve.  

As an attorney, I have served as a leader in the legal community in South Florida where I live. I was president of the T.J. Reddick Bar Association and Broward County's Black Bar Association and have served on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. I have participated in a wide range of community service projects, including citizenship drives, educating the community on issues such as voting rights, providing pro bono service, and working to increase diversity in the judiciary and in the legal profession.  After spending many years in various leadership roles in South Florida and throughout the state, I was inspired to get involved in the American Bar Association (ABA) and serve at the national level.  

I found the Section of Litigation particularly attractive because the Ethics & Professionalism Committee coincides with my area of practice. I work as senior bar counsel in the Fort Lauderdale Branch of The Florida Bar. My duties include investigating and litigating ethical and professionalism violations. In my position, I protect both the public and our noble profession. The Florida Bar is very supportive of diversity and work-life balance and strongly encourages our involvement in the legal community and the community at large. As a member of the LGBT community, I was also very pleased to see the existence of the LGBT Litigator Committee.  

The American Bar Association Section of Litigation Leadership Fellows Program is a conduit for diverse leaders of the legal community to become an integral part of the leadership structure of the ABA. Being selected as a fellow has been an invaluable opportunity for me to continue to fulfill my passion to serve and now at the national level. The program is well structured, providing both a stipend to assist with travel to the ABA leadership meetings throughout the country and a mentor to help the fellow navigate the intricacies of the ABA leadership. I was perfectly paired with Jennifer Bechet who is co-director of Division I (Operations) and a former chair of the Ethics and Professionalism Committee. She has helped me gain an understanding of the leadership structure and how to be a successful leader in the Section of Litigation. We also share the experience of balancing motherhood with being active members of our profession.

At present, I cochair the Diversity Subcommittee of the Ethics & Professionalism Committee and look forward to rising in the ranks within the Ethics and Professionalism Committee. I am programming a roundtable for this committee, addressing the ethical considerations in legal marketing and will conduct another roundtable addressing ethical issues regarding attorney fees. 

I am also passionate about the LGBT Litigator Committee. I'm working to assist with increasing membership. It is truly an exciting time of change and progress for the LGBT community, with our civil rights being addressed in lawsuits throughout the country. The LGBT Litigator Committee works to keep our colleagues abreast of legal developments affecting this community and serves as a resource and network for LGBT lawyers.  

As our fine profession continues to call for diversity, it is programs such as the Leadership Fellows Program that answers that call and leads to true diversity and inclusion within our profession and the American Bar Association. 

Copyright © 2014, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).