Posts Tagged ‘black attorneys’

A Somewhat Honest Letter from New Jersey Bar Association President: Law Profession and Minorities

Letter From The President Of The New Jersey State Bar Association; Published: July 05, 2010

All Rights Reserved

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

As members of the bar we represent a noble profession. Template characterization of the law field.

As we strive on behalf of our clients, we are also mindful of our obligation to improve the system of justice. This should extend to the members of the legal profession, those ‘officers of the court’ who have taken an exhorbitant amount of student loans with no system of justice looking out for their best interests as a whole.

The New Jersey State Bar Association is committed to addressing the issues that are critical to the profession and society.

Issues like the economy’s continued effects on our job market; the need to promote diversity in the legal community; the delivery of legal services, and our obligation to protect judicial independence. TTT/TTTT have no problem promoting diversity by being the primary institutions of U.S. legal education that will enroll minority students. Thus, those who had the ability to achieve and outperform are relegated to schools that have set them up for a future of disdainful looks and assumptions that the only reason they even attended law school, no matter how poor the ranking, was due to affirmative action.

Early this summer, I helped welcome over 100 new attorneys to the profession at a swearing-in event in Trenton. Each of them signed up for law school believing they would join a noble profession – a profession that would allow them to make a difference in society while earning a good living for their families. Unfortunately, the job market that greets them remains grim. [emphasis mine] Yet, the were struck by the harsh reality of the economy, closed doors, inadequate training and lack of opportunity. All the while working within the confines of this ‘noble’ profession: March 15, 2010

The Undertraining of Lawyers and Its Effects On The Advancement of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession « Life’s Mockery

The state’s largest lawyers group is committed to assisting lawyers navigate these troubled times. We will continue to help lawyers get their practices up and running, and be a resource for those who have already hung out their own shingle. As someone who made the leap into solo practice 10 years ago, I know how the state bar can help lawyers make a transition. First, you begin by saying that the economy is bad, and that members of the legal industry have a an obligation to the law graduates and professionals. Then you encourage those minorities who aren’t afforded the opportunity to enter into decent job prospects to start their own firms with no substantial experience. They will need, escrow account, a separate interest bearing account (depends on jurisdiction) supplies, office for leasing, liability insurance, malpractice insurance, office supplies. The funds for the start up costs will likely emanate from small business loans (more debt and interest). Most businesses lose money their first year in operation. Most law students aren’t taught economics, finance or how to operate a business. Most law students aren’t graduating with practical skills to practice law and there are just too many attorneys. Since the economy remains grim, how do you expect these inexperienced lawyers to attract clientele for their small firm in which most will not be able to pay retainer or contingency fees. So, you encourage new lawyers to incur more debt, increase their professional risk in this bad economy. Most small to mid-size firms not only lose money but are often wiped out by BigLaw firms because they are unable to compete. It’s like these lawyers who do not know better or being set up for another fall with additional financial consequences.

While most lawyers have been hurt by the recession, there are signs that the diverse population in the bar has been especially hard hit. The economic crisis has reduced opportunities for minority lawyers and hampered the profession’s efforts to increase diversity. Yet, you encourage the just above mentioned approach. I know that these blogs have been sounding negative but with estimates that the job market will only worsen for the next couple of years and that the legal industry may see a slight improvement in a few years, it’s simply not a reasonable investment. They will make things worse for themselves.

This is not acceptable. Our great state – the most diverse in the nation – demands an equally diverse legal profession. In the coming months, the state bar association will convene a summit on diversity to examine the progress we have made and to chart a path forward toward the goal of a more inclusive profession. It’s about time, why don’t a national bar association do this?

An inclusive profession is powerful and meaningful in today’s increasingly global marketplace.  That’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is that it depends on who you ask.

It is true that the global marketplace has brought changes to nearly every business and profession, and the law is no different. So true, legal outsourcing to India via LPOs has changed the American legal industry. There is cause for concern about how these trends may diminish the importance of practicing lawyers – and the public’s access to quality legal services.

In order to better understand and respond, we will establish a task force on the future of the delivery of legal services, with an eye toward protecting the public and preserving our professional values.

When it comes to protecting the public, we are reminded how blessed we are in New Jersey to have one of the most respected state court systems in the nation. That is because it is an independent and impartial branch of government. We will continue to fight to preserve the sanctity of our justice system – because every judge in our courts and every resident of New Jersey deserve it. This is confusing. The letter begins by stating the need to protect the interests of attorneys who are affected by the downturn in the economy. I will have to assume that getting attorneys to open firms to represent clients somehow enhances the justice system. So the interest is moreso getting criminals legal representation while lawyers sink in a mire of debt with no one caring about their interests.

After all, this is what the bar association is about:  Examining the tough issues so you know what is at stake and offering insight about the path to take.

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The Undertraining of Lawyers and Its Effects On The Advancement of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession

locked door

I think this would be a good add-on to the prior post of ‘Rethinking Legal Education’; but with a narrower focus on minorities. Though I must admit, that there seems to be an increase in academic discourse regarding the lack of preparation of law graduates for the practice of law.Interestingly, I would like to dissect the use of “women and minorities” phrase that I’ve seen used before. Years ago many Black Americans (and still) argued that the primary beneficiaries of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act were white women and not blacks in general. Thus, although a white woman in general modern times be deemed a minority she may still be consider a ‘suspect class.’ Yet a black woman is detracted from her worthiness and feminity but being mass categorized in the minority class when referring to blacks in general. This seems to make the black woman invisible in statistical and academic discourse. Which is ironic since for decades black women have outnumbered black men in university matriculation and graduation, as a result I’ll conclude this would also be the case in graduate education as well.  I’ve read in other spaces how in the black community the patriarchal scheme of life and business, black men are accepted more than black women. I first assessed that this was due to the sub-category of the ‘old boys network,’ that if you’re not a white male, a black male will eventually accepted as long as it’s a male first. I don’t have statistical evidence, so someone may show me evidence to the contrary but the hierarchy appears to be: white man, white woman, black man, asian man, asian woman, black woman at the bottom.

This is an interesting quote from the article: “Sharon Jones* , a black woman associate who is working for her third Am Law 200 firm since graduating from Columbia Law School in 2000, is a prime example of the abysmal retention statistics for women of color. “I think the number one reason why women of color leave firms in such overwhelmingly large numbers is that law firms are not meritocracies; the playing field is far from level.”

I’m sure it’s for multiple reasons such as this: Judge called 3 black women lawyers ‘Supremes’; January 31, 2008 [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22924814/]

Although I’ll leave the term “black” out as some people are deemed so who actually are not, this is a travesty. For the past 20 years most college graduates among “blacks” are women, thus those who graduate from graduate and professional schools are from this category. With high attrition of women of color (who have a higher interest in laws addressing racial discrimination and social reform) from the legal field, the representation of these populations will dwindle to nearly non-existent. This will allow certain legislators and politicians to enact, implement or reinterpet laws that will continue to subject the unpopular classes to servitude status once again. I like to think of it as historical reversion.

 From what I have witnessed among black female attorneys they are the biggest back biters and flesh eaters of their own. Most don’t care for personal and career development likely due to a social familiarity, resulting in lack of progress. Society will deem them not worthy and deserving of whatever they get *door slam.*

The author likely expressed the sentiment of most law school graduates by stating: “My alma mater, like most of other law schools in America, did not prepare its students, particularly those from historically underrepresented backgrounds, for navigating their careers in law firms. For today’s law schools to continue stressing the importance of Pennoyer v. Neff, rather than teaching its students about the business of law firms is absolutely criminal.”

There you have it people. Don’t go to law school, especially if you’re a minority. Nothing has changed, smoke and mirrors, why subject yourself to daily abuse all for the privilege of being in a field that financially ruined you (p.s. you can get in ethics trouble if you lost your job, unemployed, suffering from the recession and are unable to pay your personal bills). Don’t you just love it?

On a Lighter Note…: Television Images We See of Black Attorneys

.yes I had to put legalease in the caption

I was thinking about the images of the 1980s-present of black lawyers I saw on television. Of course we remember Clair Huxtable, the very witty-social host-mother-wife-attorney whom could be seen polishing the family silverware in the kitchen. I think for me that was the first time I saw an image of a black woman as a successful lawyer married to a doctor who both had deep respect for their cultural roots and family values.

Of course I remember Maxine Shaw from ‘Living Single’, Freddie when she was accepted to the prestigious yet fictious HBCU Hillman Law School, the prosecutor-District Attorney Carter (Courtney Vance) from Law & Order, Joan and William, the corporate associates on ‘Girlfriends’.

Unfortunately, these shows didn’t show the reality of many Black American attorneys who didn’t attend elite schools, weren’t a part of the black upper class (yes they do exist in America, read: Our Kind of People by Lawrence Otis Graham), nor part of the black or white connected clubs which I see is somewhat intertwined with the previous ideal.

As a matter of fact, the spin-off of ‘Girlfriends’ was based on Joan’s younger sister struggling through medical school while seeing a famous rookie football player, as well as in ‘A Different World’ the character Kim’s father is a policeman and she struggles working two jobs through undergrad and struggles through medical school. Why is law school so glamorized while television continues to show medical residents and doctors struggle to balance their lives with their hoped for career. Maybe because so many attorneys in reality are that stereotype: conniving, deceptive, trained to have a tough exterior where weakness is frowned upon. I guess in a way there aren’t enough strong attorneys with the courage to expose the inherent pitfalls in attending law school, because that would be weak, that would be an “admission” that you didn’t make it, well that’s just not being a lawyer!

With these pictorial depictions flashed in front of millions, who would be a poor or middle class prospective law student’s mentor to steer them to the right school or even guide them as to whether law is an appropriate field? How do these potential mentors access them? One way is through these blogs.