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

Suit Up for the Future - Online Registration is Now Accepting Applications!

Accepting Applications -
Apply online today!

The Louisiana State Bar Association in partnership with the Just the Beginning Foundation and the Louisiana Bar Foundation hosts an annual internship program. This program is available to incoming high school juniors, seniors, and recent graduates who are interested in the legal profession. Students participate in a three-week legal institute, during which they attend an abridged law school session, field trips to law schools and courts, and an internship consisting of shadowing at area law offices and courts. Students provide their own transportation and housing.  

The 2015 session will be held June 15-26 and July 6-10. Eligible students (students entering the 11th or 12th Grade in the Fall of 2015---or entering their first year of college) interested in attending the 2015 session should fill out the online application by clicking hereThe deadline is April 13, 2015. Students will receive notification of class acceptance by May 15, 2015.

If you have additional questions regarding the program, please send an email to diversity@lsba.org.

More Suit Up Information

Conclave Highlight! Freedom Rider, Henry "Hank" J. Thomas Speaks at Conclave
Former Freedom Rider - and one of the original 13 Freedom Riders - Henry "Hank" Thomas spoke at the 2015 Conclave on Diversity in the Legal Profession.  His words "We've come a long way, but not far enough," resonated with the diverse crowd of 250 attorneys, judges and civil rights advocates.  Mr. Thomas also served on a panel discussing civil rights today titled: "Just How Far has the Pendulum Moved? Striving for Justice."

Photo ID: Henry "Hank" J. Thomas.
Photo Credit: Matthew Hinton

Liwen Mah Facilitates Two Diversity Sessions at Solo & Small Firm Conference
At the Friday session of the 2015 Solo and Small Firm Conference, Liwen Mah facilitated two fascinating diversity sessions:  How Race Affects Lawyering (A.M. session) and Sacrifices and Professional Worries: How Lawyers Can Stay Relevant With a Changing Population (P.M. session)

Liwen Mah is an associate with San Francisco firm Fenwick and West, where he focuses his litigation practice on emerging technologies.  He is also committed to professional diversity efforts and has an active pro bono practice, which has included a successful appeal heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Photo: (l to r) Shawn L. Holohan, LSBA's Practice Management Counsel and Diversity speaker Liwen Mah

Conclave Highlight! Immigration Session
The Immigration breakout session, held at 8:15 am, was filled to standing room only.  Titled "Navigating the Troubled Waters of Immigration," speakers addressed the:
  • Challenges of immigration at the national and state level
  • Many problems related to Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs)
  • Detention of foreign nationals and how to effectively represent foreign nationals, and
  • Intersection of immigration and litigation.

The panel consisted of Graham Bateman, Kathleen Gasparian, Ivan Torres Hidalgo Gato, Professor Hiroko Kusuda and Emily Trostle. The speakers encouraged participants to get involved and volunteer to accept pro bono cases. The response was overwhelming! Several attorneys agreed to volunteer to support the efforts being made by immigration advocates.

Photo (l to r) Graham Bateman, Kathleen Gasparian, Ivan Torres Hidalgo Gato, Professor Hiroko Kusuda and Emily Trostle.           Photo credit: Matthew Hinton 

Conclave Highlight! LGBT Breakout Session
The LGBT Breakout session, was titled “The Changing Landscape and Effects of Marriage Equality.”  Speakers provided a current overview of the evolving law on state and federal recognition of same-sex marriages and implications. Additional topics addressed included:
  • Intra-family adoption in Louisiana and other states,
  • the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
  • the case of United States v. Windsor
  • the difference between state and federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and
  • the added layer and complexity of the way in which the law regulates a person’s gender identity and/or expression and the complexities that occur with parenting, employment, and employment benefits in the transgender community.

The panel consisted of attorneys that are all engaged in protecting the rights of the LGBT community in their everyday practices. The speakers were Nicholas Hite, Melanie C. Lockett, Scott Jerome Spivey, and Julie Wilensky.

Photo (l to r)  Scott J. Spivey and Julie Wilensky

Conclave Highlight! Criminal Law Session
The criminal law session titled “Moving the Pendulum to Justice, Fairness & Accountability” was the final session of the day.  It highlighted the complexities in the criminal justice system due to ongoing negative views of minorities and prejudgments that lead to bias, as well as the systematic deficiencies due to bias. The panel discussion also emphasized the value of training in order to recognize and address bias.

The panel included Angela A. Allen-Bell, Kevin Boshea, Cathy Harris, Louisiana Senator Edwin R. Murray and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand. The panel discussion was moderated by Judge Kern A. Reese. The combination of this panel as one participant surveyed remarked “made for an interesting and lively discussion.”

Photo: (l to r)  Kevin Boshea, Senator Edwin R. Murray, Angela A. Allen-Bell, Judge Kern A. Reese, Cathy Harris and Sheriff Newell Norman.  Photo credit:  Matthew Hinton

Conclave Highlight! Civil Rights Discussion
Titled “Just How Far Has the Pendulum Moved? Striving for Justice,”  the civil rights session opened with a slideshow of moving and haunting imagery of the civil rights and voting rights movement. The panel consisted of

The speakers offered a unique and valuable perspective on how the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 changed the moral landscape of the country. These laws forced the country into self-examination and transformed the movement. The panel also addressed the role of the judiciary in shaping the civil rights movement, public education at the height of the civil rights movement and continuing obstacles, the impact of the case Shelby County v. Holder and the obstacles to access to justice.

The knowledge and experiences of this panel was truly inspiring. Members of the panel spoke to their personal experiences and how this altered their lives and world view.

Photo: (l to r) Professor Kareem U. Crayton, Judge Bernice B. Donald, Henry "Hank" James Thomas, Judge Roland L. Belsome, Jr. and Alexander P. Tureaud, Jr.  Photo credit:  Matthew Hinton

Conclave Highlight! Interactive Workshop - "Inclusion 8" and The Privilege Walk
The Diversity Conclave Subcommittee was proud to welcome back Judge Wendell L. Griffen, a previous Conclave facilitator.  This year he facilitated the diversity workshop titled “Inclusion 8.”  Incorporated into his presentation was the interactive and powerful exercise titled the “Privilege Walk.” According to Judge Griffen, the Privilege Walk is designed to help attendees recognize the following:
  • that privilege and the deficits that occur from lack of privilege are unearned
  • how privilege and lack of privilege affect different populations, and
  • that different types of privilege dramatize (through silence, movement, and eye contact)
  • how we can take for granted the benefits received from and the disadvantages suffered as result of privilege, or its absence.

Privilege Line participants were asked to do the following: to silently rise from their seats and stand shoulder to shoulder in a straight line across the room; to remain silent while moving into position and throughout the exercise; to listen carefully and after hearing each sentence stated by Judge Griffen, to take a step forward or backward, if the sentence applied to the participant. If the sentence did not apply to the participant, no step was taken at all and the participant remained in position and silent while other participants move as directed. Upon completion of the exercise, participants were directed to remain in position and requested to remain silent and make eye contact while observing where other participants were standing. Participants then took a “comfort break” where judges and lawyers led individual table discussions to assist participants in processing their experiences.

Judge Griffen completed the diversity workshop by asking questions that allowed participants an opportunity to bring closure to the exercise experience. That discussion allowed participants to ponder together and discuss the questions in depth.  The Privilege Walk served to be a moving and dramatic way of confronting participants about the myth of meritocracy.

Photo:  Privilege Walk participants. Photo credit:  Matthew Hinton

Conclave Highlight! Keynote Speaker - Kim M. Keenan
At the Awards Luncheon, Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson delivered powerful remarks and provided an introduction of the keynote speaker, Kim M. Keenan. Ms. Keenan, CEO and President of Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, spoke passionately about minorities and the historical impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its effect on communities then and now. She eloquently addressed evidence of progress in the 21st century and the movement being made to hold on to the strides made. Ms. Keenan discussed the awakening of communities through social media and how televised moments have sparked communities to mobilize and make an impact through movement. Ms. Keenan elaborated on what opportunities exist in the 21st century framework and encouraged participant to think about what aspects of the law are engaged when injustice is immediate and due process digital. In her closing remarks, she referred to her time as past counsel for the NAACP and stated that at the NAACP the belief is “Ever forward, never backwards" and "no permanent enemies, no permanent friends, just permanent issues.”
Photo: (l to r) Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson, Keynote speaker Kim M. Keenan and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice B. Donald.  Photo credit: Matthew Hinton.

NBA Launches 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition
National Bar Association's Scholarship Competition, sponsored by MetLife, is scheduled for Thursday, July 23, 2015 at the National Bar Association's 90th Annual Convention & Exhibits at the The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

Eligible high schoolers are encouraged to apply. Student essays are due by April 8, 2015 and winners will be announced in July at the National Competition in Los Angeles, CA. Click here for complete competition details.   For the competition packet, please click here.

For the sixth consecutive year, MetLife is a sponsor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Scholarship Competition - an annual program for high school juniors and seniors presented by the National Bar Association (NBA) and supported by the National Bar Institute. The national competition encourages students to express their views on a pre-selected topic and focuses on the ability of the students to communicate both orally and in writing. "The competition is, without question, one of the nation's preeminent programs for young African Americans. It's a truly rare program in that it creates an arena of competition in which young people develop, hone and master various forms of oration, incorporating those skills into outstanding leadership qualities," stated Pamela J. Meanes, President of the National Bar Association.

Since its inception in 2000, the program has awarded nearly $225,000 in scholarships and prizes, supporting the efforts of young African Americans who aspire to lofty educational and career goals.

"MetLife has had a long partnership with the NBA and we're proud to once again serve as the Platinum sponsor for the 2015 event," stated Laurel Daring, assistant vice president of Communications and Diverse Markets Support. "This sponsorship is not only an opportunity to network with members of the NBA, it also allows us to invest in and promote educational excellence among youth." Ms. Laurel Daring.

Get Involved! The LSBA Committee on Diversity in the Profession Needs You...
If you are interested in joining us in our efforts to ensure that all voices in our profession are heard, please consider working with us on LSBA’s Diversity LSBA Committee on Diversity in the Profession in the upcoming bar year.  Click here to download the LSBA Committee Preference Form.   Deadline for return is April 15, 2015. 

Masquerade Ball is theme for 11th Annual Scholarship Gala and Silent Auction

The A.P. Tureaud Chapter of the Black Law Students Association is hosting its 11th Annual Scholarship Gala and Silent Auction on Saturday, April 11, 2015.  This year's theme, "Masquerade Ball" will be held at the Danna Center on the Loyola University Main Campus, 7214 St. Charles Avenue.  (Free parking will be available at the St. Charles Garage.)  Sharonda Williams, New Orleans City Attorney, is listed as the Keynote Speaker.  Cocktail hour begins at 6:30 pm in the Pavilion of the St. Charles Room with the event starting at 7:30 pm in the St. Charles Room.  For more information, contact blsateam@gmail.com

LADB and Diversity Integration Subcommittee Present Series of Diversity CLE Seminars
In partnership with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, 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.

To date, 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, see the LADB website at http://www.ladb.org

Third in the Disability-Related Series: SSI/SSDI Law - April 17, 2015
"Social Security Disability: Opportunities for Solo and Small Firm Practitioners" - Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI or SSDI) is vital to the well-being of disabled individuals who are unable to work. Lawyers play a vital role in this process by advocating for clients’ rights to awards, and ensuring that cases are adjudicated properly. Further, the demand for counsel in this area has risen in recent years, particularly in North Louisiana, as the median age of our state continues to rise.

This session, located at the Shreveport Bar Association,  will provide an overview of social security appeals, and include practical tips for ensuring high-quality representation and soliciting immediate business. The information and resources provided are particularly pertinent to relatively new practitioners and/or those looking to expand their practice into this area which, perhaps surprisingly, can be quite rewarding financially. 

To register online for this seminar, please click here.

Suit Up 2014 - See Oral Presentations of the Class of 2014!
The Suit Up for the Future Class of 2014 made oral and memorandum presentations on the last two days of their session.  Students were divided into two teams: FOR and AGAINST on an issue, but individually presented a memorandum and an oral argument to a panel of judges.  The esteemed panel included:
  • Judge Karen Wells Roby, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
  • Judge Stanwood Duval, Jr., U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District.
  • Judge Susie Morgan, U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District.
  • Judge Jane Margaret Triche-Milazzo , U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District.
  • Judge Roland L. Belsome, Jr., Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal
  • Civil Judge Tiffany Gautier Chase, judge for the Orleans Parish Civil District Court (Division A).

See the students as they present their oral arguments.

Click here to view Bria I. Hays and Saul Garcia Amezuca make their presentations.

Click here to view Miles E. Ballard and Morgan-Me'Lyn Grant present their arguments.  Miles was chosen as the Best Oralist and Morgan-Me'Lyn was selected as the Best Writer.  Miles was also chosen as a runner-up for Best Writer.

Click here to view David Louis Lawson, Jr. and Sarah Chiasson make their cases. 

Click here to view Sara DeRouen and Carine Mary Lama as they present their arguments. Sara was a runner-up as Best Writer and Carine was a runner-up as Best Oralist.

Click here to view Skyler Katie Ockman and Cassidy Marie Wells make their presentations.  Cassidy was also a runner-up for Best Oralist.   

Click here to view Hannah Marie Lampo and John Patrick Larson present their arguments.  Hannah was selected as a runner-up for Best Writer.

Click here to view Alexis Nicole Calderon and Synise Jonquil Pierre as they make their cases.

Click here to view Evan Vedros and Amanda Angela Addison make the final presentations. Evan was also a runner-up for Best Oralist. 

PHOTO ID: Miles E. Ballard 

Suit Up for the Future 2014 - Photos From Field Trips and Class Activities

Click here
to see the photos from the three week 2014 Suit Up for the Future Legal Institute.  Photos include trips to courthouses, various classroom activities and presenters, and the students' final oral presentations to the judges' panel. 

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