A half-day summit on May 4 at Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., marked the official launch of the Young Lawyers Division Men of Color Project.
The brainchild of Los Angeles attorney Dave L. Morrow II and Tommy D. Preston, chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division, the Men of Color Project (MoCP) targets law students and those in their first five years out of law school. The goal is to give them access to career guidance and a support system essential for a successful legal career.
The agenda included one panel on sponsorship and mentoring and another on vision development and execution. Past ABA President Robert Grey Jr. (2004-05), president of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, gave the plenary speech, and Bakari Sellers, CNN political analyst and attorney with the Strom Law Firm, LLC, in Columbia, S.C., gave the keynote address.
Morrow said men of color need “an immense amount of grit” to figure out how to flourish in the legal profession, and that they often face a lack of connections and an unfamiliarity with the “cultural differences” at law firms and within legal practice when coming out of law school.
He wants MoCP to be a “safe space” where men can find understanding, camaraderie and resources. The digital platform includes video, audio and blog content.
Fabiani Duarte, chief of civil law, 49th Wing for the JAG Corps of the U.S. Air Force and former chair of the ABA Law Student Division, said he hopes the project will play a role in helping the diversity now being seen at the lower levels of law firms infiltrate into the upper echelons.
Walmart has signed on as the project’s first corporate sponsor, and plans are underway for more in-person events, including a program at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Aug. 7-13.