Goal IX Newsletter

Spring 2001, Volume 7, Number 2

In the Spirit of Excellence by: Charisse R. Lillie, Commission Chair

Every Spirit of Excellence Luncheon has its own unique personality. This year, our awardees were storytellers. They told us triumphant stories—of living in public Charisse R. Lilliehousing as a child and eventually serving as counsel to the secretary of Housing and Urban Development. They told us courageous stories— of giving up a lucrative private practice in order to teach and lecture on issues of equality, law, and public policy.

They told us ironic stories—of achieving success as a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit but still having to endure racial slights and insensitivity almost daily. They told us encouraging stories—of captains of industry who value diversity and who lead by example at all levels of their corporations. They told us humbling stories—of being grateful for receiving the Spirit of Excellence Award but not feeling worthy of such recognition. They told compelling stories, and many times the ballroom became eerily quiet as the audience sat mesmerized by the heartfelt and amazing sentiments expressed by our honorees.

 This Goal IX newsletter is dedicated to the six warriors for equality and justice whom we honored in San Diego this year. The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession is committed to redoubling its efforts to follow in the footsteps of the 2001 Spirit of Excellence awardees: Vine Deloria, Jr., Honorable Nelson A. Diaz, Paul M. Igasaki, Honorable Damon J. Keith, Angela E. Oh, and Thomas Lauck Sager. We will continue to undertake new programs and reinvigorate existing programs to meet the requirements of the ABA’s Goal IX—to ensure the full and equal participation of minority lawyers in the legal profession.

The San Diego Midyear Meeting was the occasion of an extremely successful program on business development sponsored by the Commission’s Conference of Minority Partners in Majority Law Firms. The Commission’s Minority Counsel Program is sponsoring a widely anticipated program in Florida on April 26-28, 2001. Following the Annual Meeting in 2001, all of the Commission’s entities will meet with the Commission, to facilitate greater synergy between the Minority In-House Counsel, Minority Partners, Minority Caucus, and Minority Counsel programs. Please mark your calendars for August 3-6, and October 25-27, 2001, so that you can join us.

As we honor our past and work on maintaining the progress that we have made in nurturing and sustaining increased diversity in the profession, we must always be mindful of our future. The Judicial Clerkship Program, which debuted in San Diego, signifies the Commission’s most recent effort to protect the future of our incoming legal professionals. We are grateful to the ABA Judicial Division and the judges who gave selflessly of their time. We cannot thank LEXIS-NEXIS © enough for its contribution of computers for the research portion of the program and its commitment to continue to provide computers for such programs in the future. We thank the Open Society Institute for providing a significant portion of the funding for the Judicial Clerkship Program. We hope the success of this program will mean that more minority graduates will consider clerking as an option, and that more judges will consider enhancing diversity in their chambers.

The Commission continues its collaboration with ABA Sections and Committees. At the spring meeting of the Business Law Section in Philadelphia, the Minority In-House Counsel Group co-sponsored several excellent CLE programs. On June 18-19 in Washington, D.C., the Commission will again co-sponsor the National Conference for the Minority Lawyer, with the ABA Litigation Section and the ABA Business Law Section. These efforts are but a few examples of the ABA’s continuing commitment to Goal IX.

On behalf of the Commissioners, we appreciate your support and efforts to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.

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