Montgomery, Ala., April 15, 2008 - Racial and ethnic minorities are critically underrepresented nationally in the legal profession and while these groups comprise 30% of the general population, only 15% of practicing attorneys come from minority racial or ethnic groups.
The question Alabama's legal profession faces is how to achieve the goal of diversity in the profession when the pool of racially and ethnically diverse candidates is diminishing? That the legal profession lags significantly behind other professional groups in recognizing the seriousness of this issue emphasizes the importance of implementing strategies that will lead to solutions. The Alabama State Bar is trying to close this gap by conducting outreach programs that target students from underrepresented communities and encourage them to choose a career in the law.
The ASB Young Lawyers Section (YLS), in conjunction with the Capital City Bar Association, a minority lawyers' organization in Montgomery, are sponsoring a Minority Pre-Law Conference. Several hundred high school juniors and seniors from Montgomery and surrounding counties will attend the pre-law conference scheduled for April 17 at Alabama State University.
Montgomery attorney Navan Ward (Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.) who co-chairs the program, explained the importance of this activity, "The goal of this program is building confidence in our system of justice, in our judiciary, and in the lawyers and judges who provide legal service to all Americans despite barriers of language and culture."
"If lawyers and judges can achieve diversity, we believe our citizens will have more confidence in the ability of the legal and judicial system to help solve their problems," Ward said.
The pre-law conference brings together minority students to meet with practicing minority lawyers and judges to encourage interactive discussion on how the legal and judicial systems function and how students can begin the steps to their own legal career.
The program features a mock trial and a panel discussion with minority attorneys who represent different fields of law practice and will explain their daily routine. The mock trial will be presided over by Magistrate Judge Terry F. Moorer and students will participate as jurors at the Frank M. Johnson, Jr., federal courthouse annex.
Ward said, "By participating as jurors in a mock trial, students gain a better understanding of how courts resolve conflicts and the roles judges, lawyers, juries and witnesses play in the system."
The 4700-member YLS is composed of all lawyers who are 36 years of age and under or who have been admitted to the bar for three years or less. The section conducts various seminars and also sponsors service projects designed to aid the public in their understanding of the law and assist in solving legal problems.