Diverse Leaders Academy

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 Section of Litigation. 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 2020-2022 application period is now open. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, April 8, 2020.  Please contact Heather Nichols with any questions about this program. 

View the Application

Diverse Leaders Academy

Diverse Leaders Academy

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 and Winter leadership meetings and the Section’s Annual Conference during each year of the Program. Maximum reimbursement is $2,000 per year per individual to attend these meetings.*

The 2020-2021 meeting details are as follows:

  • Fall Leadership Meeting – Boston, MA, October 1-3, 2020
  • Winter Leadership Meeting – La Quinta, CA, January 14-16, 2021
  • Section Annual Conference – Houston, TX, May 5-7, 2021 (Registration fee waived; no reimbursement for this meeting)

*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.


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:

  • 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

Number of Participants

The Program may select up to six (6) participants each year and fund 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 bases as all other applicants.


September 1, 2020 through August 31, 2022

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, 2020.