Part of recognizing our fortune is knowing when to help others find their own. Participating in a pro bono project or donating time to a local nonprofit are excellent ways to accomplish the same. Lawyers are uniquely equipped to provide a service. Redirecting that skill to impact the community often results in a reward that far exceeds the labor. I give back through The Bloom Project, Inc. and the Alpha Esquires of Indianapolis, mentoring organizations dedicated to preparing Indianapolis youth for college and careers.
Experience Informs Purpose
Choosing a service project reminds me of the adage, “move with a purpose.” My experiences inform my purpose, as will yours. I knew I wanted to go to law school, but no one in my family attended college, and I did not know any lawyers, let alone any lawyers who looked like me—with only one exception—a lawyer who encouraged me to consider another profession. I do not fault that lawyer for trying to convince me otherwise.
At the time, I was serious about music. I think his rationale was in part due to his recognition of my promise as a violinist. At one point, I even began to consider violin performance instead of law. However, I thought long and hard about what I wanted in life, and I ultimately decided to heed the words of my father: “Finish what you start.” Still, I had no leaders to follow. I found my way, but I recognize the impact a mentor could have had on my life. Indeed, my experiences, while personal, resulted in my realization that there was a need. Kids of color need representation in all disciplines.
According to the American Bar Association, black attorneys make up around 5 percent of the legal profession. I thought about this statistic as one of my mentees shared his aspirations of attending law school. Following our conversation, I made it my obligation to be his representative. It was also a moment met with a revelation: my purpose involves helping young black boys grasp what is possible for their lives.