Louisiana State Bar Association Diversity Statement

Louisiana State Bar Association Diversity Statement

The Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) recognizes that achieving diversity in the legal profession is an evolutionary process that requires the Association's continued effort and commitment.

The LSBA is committed to diversity in its membership, Board of Governors, staff, House of Delegates, committees and all leadership positions. Diversity is an inclusive concept that encompasses race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation and disability.

The LSBA is a richer and more effective Association because of diversity, as it increases our strengths, capabilities and adaptability. In addition, a diverse group of talented legal professionals is important to the success of law firms, law departments, public service organizations and other organizations that include attorneys.

Through increased diversity, the LSBA and its members can bring more varied perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, talents and interests to the practice of law and the administration of justice.

Diversity — Inclusion — Professionalism

Latest Diversity News and Events

Disability Seminar "Introduction to Special Needs Planning" Launches September 24
The Diversity Committee's Pipeline Subcommittee and Legal Services for Persons with Disabilities Committee (LSPD) have come together to launch the 2015-16 three-part CLE series focusing on disabilities-related legal issues. The first in the series, titled "Introduction to Special Needs Planning," is for those who are interested in best serving clients with special needs - and their families. Carole Cukell Neff, estate planning specialist, will be the featured speaker.

Date: September 24, 2015
Registration Fee: $25.00, lunch is included
Registration: 11:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
CLE: 12:00 p.m.- 1:00 p.m.
CLE hrs: 1.0 Professionalism CLE credits (pending approval)

Click here for registration and details.

First African American President of the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association
Dwazendra Smith was named the first African-American president of the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association. She has been a member of the organization since 2009 and has previously served in various capacities within LYLA.

Ms. Smith is a 2009 graduate of the Southern University Law Center. She currently is an associate at Davidson, Meaux, Sonnier, McElligott, Fontenot, Gideon & Edwards in Lafayette. She has been awarded the Lafayette Bar Association Outstanding Attorney Award every year from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, she was awarded the Top LVL Award from the Lafayette Bar Association. She also has been awarded the Louisiana State Bar Association Pro Bono Century Award in 2011, 2013 and 2014, and the Louisiana State Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award in 2012 and 2015.

Ms. Smith will be sworn in at the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association Intallation Banquet on Friday, August 21, 2015, at the Iberia Bank in Downtown Lafayette.  For more informatiion about the event, click here to go to the Lafayette Bar Association website.

GNO Martinet Annual Scholarship Gala
Each year, the GNO Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Inc. and the New Orleans Martinet Legal Foundation, Inc. host the Annual Scholarship Gala to raise funds to provide scholarships to law students and fund community service projects that effectuate change and benefit our communities. Last year they awarded $5,000 in scholarships to deserving law students and fund programming for the Foundation.

In addition to awarding scholarships to deserving law students, they honor an esteemed member with the Martinet Lifetime Achievement Award for unparalleled contributions to the bar, judiciary and community at large. This year's Martinet Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is, the Honorable Carl E. Stewart.

GNO Scholarship Jazz Brunch
Date:  September 12, 2015
Time:  11:00 a.m.
Site:   Ritz Carlton, 921 Canal Street, New Orleans

For more information, please contact DeAnna Arcement at gala@gnomartinet.com.

FREE CLE Addresses Issues Related to Obergefell v. Hodges
The LSBA Diversity Committe's LGBT Subcommittee is proud to sponsor a FREE CLE that will address developing issues resulting from the landmark Supreme Court decision allowing gay couples to marry.  In the seminar titled "The Impact of Obergefell v. Hodges: What Does the Future Hold?" presenters Ryan P. Delaney, (Delaney and Robb), Scott J. Spivey (Landry and Spivey), and Rachel W. Wisdom (Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC) will discuss topics such as adoption, divorce, step-parent adoption, estate planning, and employment benefits. This free two hour CLE has limited space, so registration is only available online.  A free networking reception for LGBT attorneys and law students will follow at 5:00 p.m. 

Date:         Thursday, October 8, 2015
Site:          The Louisiana Bar Center, 601 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130
Time:        2:30 p.m.- 4:45 p.m. CLE;  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.  Networking Reception
CLE:          2.0 hours Professionalism (pending approval)


2015 Suit Up for the Future is on Facebook
The Suit Up for the Future students have a Facebook page! To keep up with the Class of 2015's three weeks of activities, please click here:  Suit Up for the Future Facebook page.

Martinet President Honored with Pro Bono Award
Rolando R. Urbina, president of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, has been selected to receive the 2014-2015 Louisiana State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Award. The award will be presented on June 11, 2015 at the LSBA General Assembly during the Combined Annual Meeting/Summer School in Sandestin, Florida. The LSBA Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Award is given to a young lawyer for commitment and dedication to providing pro bono services in his/her community. 

Second in a 3-Part Disability-Related CLE Series: "Fit to Practice"- January 21, 2016
The second in a disability-related three-part CLE series, titled "Fit to Practice," is scheduled for January 21, 2016 at the Louisiana Bar Center in New Orleans, LA.  The seminar will focus on liability and ethics issues in the event an attorney experiences a short or long-term disability. This session is especially relevant to solo and small firm attorneys.

Substance abuse, physical and mental health disability issues affect people of all professions - and lawyers are no exception. In addition to the personal challenges of those suffering from these issues, this brings potential risk to the attorneys as they handle important matters and continue to work in the profession. This session will discuss the risks and ethics/liability issues that attorneys with disabilities face. In addition, it will offer resources available in Louisiana to help practitioners, and give practical advice on avoiding personal and vicarious liability during this process.

On line registration will be available soon.

LADB and Diversity Integration Subcommittee Present Series of Diversity CLE Seminars
The fourth CLE in a five-part diversity series with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB), took place in Lafayette  on Wednesday, July 14.  Attorneys Lynn Luker of Law Offices of Lynn Luker, LLC  and Travis J. Broussard, of the firm of Durio, McGoffin, Stagg and Ackermann, facilitated the presentation "Minimizing the Impact of Unconscious Bias in Decision Making". 

The first in the series was hosted in April at the Shreveport Convention Center in Shreveport.  Diversity speaker and attorney I.J. Clark-Sam was the facilitator for that CLE session.  In May, Administrative Law Judge Kelly McNeil Legier and Chauntis Jenkins spoke about Generational Differences to the attendees in Baton Rouge.  Last month Cherrilynne Washington Thomas and Lynn Luker discussed the impact of unconscious bias.   

In partnership with the LADB, the Diversity Committee’s Diversity Integration Subcommittee is presenting a series of one-hour diversity CLE seminars. Lynn Luker, a frequent presenter of LSBA diversity seminars, has pulled together a team of LSBA facilitators who will bring the seminar to over 1,400 attorneys in five locations across Louisiana.

The seminar schedule is as follows:
• April 9 – Shreveport Convention Center, Shreveport
• May 27 – Crowne Plaza Hotel, Baton Rouge
• June 17 – Pontchartrain Center, Kenner
• July 22 – Hilton Hotel, Lafayette
• September 30 – SAI Convention Center, Alexandria

For more details and registration, see the LADB website at www.ladb.org.

Photo ID:  (L to R) Presenters Travis J. Broussard and Lynn Luker

Congratulations to Judge Karelia Stewart - NBA's 40 under 40!
The Honorable Karelia Stewart, of the First Judicial District Court (Caddo Parish) Family Court, Section D, was awarded the National Bar Association's 40 Under 40 Best Advocate Award.  She was the only candidate nominated from the state of Louisiana. 

Nation’s Best Advocates (NBA) recognizes talented individuals (age 40 and under) within the African American legal community who have achieved prominence and distinction, professionally and philanthropically.  Selected awardees represent a cross-section of legal professionals: solo practitioners, government lawyers, judges, academicians, corporate counsels, young elected officials, and other lawyers using their degree in innovative ways. Awardees are chosen based on their achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and legal community involvement.  The 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon was held on Thursday, July 24, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m during the NBA's 90th Annual Convention, in Los Angeles, CA. 

Congratulations, Judge Stewart!

Photo ID (L to R):  Benjamin L. Crump, President-Elect of the National Bar Association, Judge Karelia Stewart, Aubrey "Nick" Pittman, 2015 Chair, Under 40 Awards Program Committee

Call for Volunteers: Southern Region of the Black Law Students Association Annual Moot Court Competition
The Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition (“FDMCC”) for the Southern Region of the Black Law Students Association will be hosted in Baton Rouge on January 19-24, 2016.  The organization will need volunteer assistance from local lawyers willing to serve as judges in competion rounds.  The success of the program depends, in large part, on attorneys from Baton Rouge and surrounding areas being willing to donate their time. 

The FDMCC is one of the largest and most prestigious moot court competitions in the country, and typically draws between 100 and 150 teams. This region is known to send some of the best teams to the national competition. 

If you are interested in volunteering or have questions, please contact competition organizer, Maria Lungu at (706) 461-4126 or at srlsba.mootcourt@nblsa.org.

Interested in Diversity? Join the LSBA Diversity Signatories

The LSBA recognizes that achieving diversity in the legal profession is an effort that requires the Association's continued effort and commitment.  Statewide judges, attorneys, firms, and organziations have joined the LSBA by signing the Statement of Diversity Principles, a commitment to foster diversity.  If you, your firm or organization are interested in furthering diversity in the legal profession, we encourage you to become a Diversity Signatory!  Simply sign the LSBA Statement of Diversity Principles and either email it (tricia.pierre@lsba.org) or fax it (504-566-0930) back to the Diversity Department. 

In the first quater of 2015, four more members joined the LSBA in this effort, bringing the total of Diversity Signatories to 355!  The 2015 Signatories are:

  • Jules D. Edwards, III, Attorney at Law
  • Louisiana District Judges Association
  • Evans & Clesi, PLC
  • Louis J. Leo, Attorney at Law, APLC

To read the LSBA Diversity Statement, approved by the LSBA Board of Governors and House of Delegates on Januay 12, 2008, please click here

Suit Up for the Future - Day 2

The second day of the Suit Up for the Future program proved to be packed with new information. Professor M. Isabel Medina, a Ferris Family Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, engaged the students in a three hour presentation on Constitutional Law. Attorneys Monte Mollere, the Director of LSBA Department of Access to Justice, Amy E. Duncan, Project Coordinator for the LSBA Department of Access to Justice and Robert Pearson, the Director of Legal Services at the Louisiana Civil Justice Center, spoke to students about alternative legal careers in the area of social justice.  Following the presentation,  interns Miles E. Ballard (a 2014 Suit Up for the Future alumni) and Karina Shareen facilitated a resume crash course.  The students concluded the day by viewing  last year’s Suit Up for the Future students’ oral argument presentations. 

Photo ID:  Professor M. Isabel Medina takes a break with a few students.

To see the 2015 Suit Up for the Future program agenda, please click here

Suit Up for the Future - Day 3
Wednesday, June 16, 2015, was the first field excursion for the students! Students eagerly made the trip to the Field Trip to the Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office. When they arrived they were heartily greeted by Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton, After their tour and question and answer session, students headed back to the Louisiana Bar Center. There, they met with two local attorneys, Deontrinelle Green with Rodney and Etter, LLC and Adria Kimbrough of the Kullman Firm. Professor Russell L. Jones, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and a Jesse N. Stone, Jr. Endowed Professor of Law at Southern University law Center, finished up the afternoon with a three hour course in Criminal Law.

To see the entire three week 2015 Suit Up for the Future program agenda, please click here.

Photo ID:  Students pose with Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton.

Suit Up for the Future - Day 5
Friday, June 19, 2015,  the students had a field excursion to the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court where they had the opportunity to view criminal proceedings. They spent half the morning with Judge Camille Buras, Section B and the other half of the morning with Judge Tracey Flemings Davillier, Section H.

During lunch presenters Jason Michael Freas, Johnson, Yacoubian & Paysse, APLC, Jim Nieset, of Porteus, Hainkel & Johnson, LLP and Renee Culotta, Frilot LLC discussed their law school and career experiences. Immediately following was Emily Maw, Director of the Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO). Ms. Maw and Kia Hall Hayes shared with students the work the organization does in freeing innocent men and women from prison and death row.

Photo ID: Judge Tracey Flemings Davillier

Suit Up for the Future - Day 1
Seventeen local 11th grade, 12th grade and recent high school graduate students received a warm welcome to the 2015 Louisiana State Bar Association’s Suit Up for the Future program. Newly installed LSBA President Mark A. Cunningham and Federal Magistrate Judge on the United States District Court, the Honorable Karen Wells Roby greeted the students and each discussed the idea that lawyers work in all areas of our lives and communities. Members of the Diversity Committee’s Pipeline on Diversity Subcommittee co-chairs Sherri N. Guidry, of the 15th JDC Public Defenders Office, and Kandace R. Hamilton, of Tulane University's Office of Institutional Equity, also made welcoming remarks and stayed throughout the day to facilitate activities. 

Their real work began immediately after lunch with Professor Mary Garvey Algero, from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, presenting her law school abridged  “Legal Writing”  course.  The day ended after students were given their team assignments for their mock legal problem.

To see what the students did for the their entire three weeks, please click here.

Photo ID:  Co-Chairs Kandace R. Hamilton and Sherri N. Guidry (L to R)

NAPABA to Host 2015 Annual Convention in New Orleans - November 5-8
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) will be hosting its annual convention in New Orleans on November 5-8, 2015 at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside.   

NAPABA is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 67 state and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities.

For more information, go to the NAPABA convention webpage at http://www.napaba.org/?page=2015_Convention,

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