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
2015 Suit Up for the Future Session:  June 15-26 and July 6-10.

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.  The online deadline: May 8, 2015 has passed.   Students who applied have received notification of class acceptance.

If you are an attorney who is interested in volunteering some time to talk to this year's Suit Up students - or you and/or your firm are willing to provide a shadowing opportunity for a student, please click here You can also contact us via email at diversity@lsba.org. 

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

More Suit Up Information

Diversity Committee Co-Chair Selected to Receive President's Award
Luis (Lou) A. Leitzelar, Co-Chair of the 2014-15 Diversity Committee, has been selected to receive the 2014-2015 Louisiana State Bar Association President’s Award. Mr. Leitzelar is being recognized for his exemplary assistance to the Committee on Diversity in the Legal Profession. The award will be presented on June 11, 2015 at the LSBA General Assembly during the Combined Annual Meeting/Summer School in Sandestin, Florida. 

Mr. Leitzelar is a partner at Jones Walker LLP where he practices in the Business and Commercial Litigation Group in Baton Rouge. He is a member of the Firm’s Diversity Committee. Since 2011, he is also a member of the Diversity Committees of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Defense Research Institute. Mr. Leitzelar is Co-Chair of the LSBA Committee on Diversity as well as its Conclave on Diversity in the Legal Profession Subcommittee. Mr. Leitzelar previously served as Chair of the Minority Involvement Section of the LSBA, which sponsors minority career job fairs and mentorship programs for minority law students.

Martinet Day on the Capitol - May 21, 2015
Martinet members from across the state descended on the Capitol Thursday, May 21, 2015 for their annual Martinet Day on the Capitol.  Events of the day included:

  •   9:00 a.m. - House convenes; Recognition on House Floor
  • 10:00 a.m. - Meet in Senate Chambers and Recognition on Senate Floor
  • 10:45 a.m. - Capitol tour for Martinet members
  • 11:50 a.m - Group picture on Capitol Step
  • 12:00 p.m. - Lunch in the Members' Lounge
  •   5:00 p.m. - Mixer at Roux House, 143 Third Street, Downtown Baton Rouge

Back row (l to r)
Deidre D. Robert, Cordelia D. Tullous, Ne’Shira D. Millender, Claire McDaniel-Ojeh, Hon. Quintillis Kenyatta Lawrence, Justin I. Woods, Laurie Ann Lucas (law student), Camille Wilson (med student), Sanettria G. Pleasant, Rep. Marcus L. Hunter (District 17), Rep. Edward C. "Ted" James II (District 101)

Front Row (l to r)
Jasmine Brown (law student), J. Ashley Mitchell-Carter, Ashley J. Greenhouse, Rachael D. Johnson, Gavin M. Richard, Cashauna M. Hill, Rolando R. Urbina, Chantell M. Boutte, Krystal Wilson (law student), Tricia R. Pierre, Tracie L. Washington, Christopher B. Hebert

SULC Hosts Annual Gala and Alumni & Friends Round-Up
Southern University Law Center hosted their 2015 Gala at Renaissance Baton Rouge on Saturday April 11, 2015. The gala was the finale in their annual three day Alumni & Friends Round-Up, which also included Alumni Student Professional Workshop and Reception, Judicial Wall of Fame Portraits Unveiling Ceremony, Chancellor’s Golf Scramble, Admitted Students Reception, a Distinguished Alumni and Friends Reception and an SULC Alumni Association Annual Meeting and Mixer.

Photo ID 2015  - 2015 SULC Distinguished Alumni
(left to right) Chancellor Pitcher congratulates William C. Bradford, Jr., ’09, Shreveport City Attorney; Krystal J. Brumfield,’07, VP and COO, DC Chamber of Commerce; Christian N. Elloie,’08, assistant general counsel, Deloitte LLP, New York, New York; Hon. Donald R. Cravins, Jr., ’98, deputy national political director, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington, D.C.; and Hon. Edward “Ted” James, ’06, State Representative, Baton Rouge.

Chief Justice Johnson Receives ABA Diversity Leadership Award
Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson was presented the 2015 Diversity Leadership Award by the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation during the Diversity Leadership & John Minor Wisdom Awards Luncheon held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans on April 16, 2015.

“The Diversity Leadership Award recognizes individuals or entities who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting full and equal participation in the legal community through encouragement and inclusion of women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and/or persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. Chief Justice Johnson is well-deserving of this recognition,” said Nancy Scott Degan, Chair, ABA Section of Litigation.

A graduate of Spelman College in 1964, Chief Justice Johnson was one of the first African-America women to attend the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University (LSU), where she received her law degree in 1969. Chief Justice Johnson’s judicial career began in 1984 when she became the first woman elected to serve on the Civil District Court in New Orleans. In 1994, she was elected to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court and was re-elected without opposition in 2000 and 2010. She attained another “first” on February 1, 2013 when she was sworn-in as Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, making her the first African-American Chief Justice. In May of 2013, Chief Justice Johnson was inducted as an honorary member of LSU Law Center’s local chapter of the Order of the Coif and she delivered the Commencement Address at Southern University as well as her alma mater, LSU Law Center.

Chief Justice Johnson has long been an advocate for social justice and civil rights. She worked as a community organizer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and worked for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Following law school, she became the Managing Attorney of the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation (NOLAC), where she provided legal services to clients in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Additionally, she practiced in federal, state and juvenile courts advancing the rights of children, the poor, the elderly and the disenfranchised.

Lafayette Martinet Installs 2015-17 Officers
The Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Greater Lafayette Chapter  installed their 2015-2017 Officers at a ceremony held on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Lafayette Bar Association.  Judge Edward D. Rubin, of the 15th Judicial District Court, swore the new officers in. 

Photo ID:  (top row standing left to right: Franchesca Hamilton-Acker, President Elect, Patsy A. Randall, President, Harold D. Register, III, Chaplain
(Bottom row seated, left): Corrie Journet, secretary, Karnina Dargin, financial secretary.
Not pictured are Shytishia Flugence, Treasurer, Edward Rubin, Jr., Historian, and Robert Moore, Parliamentarian

"Dialogues on Inclusion: Breaking Barriers in the Legal Profession" - June 29 FBA Event
Please join the Hon. Carl E. Stewart, Wayne J. Lee, María Pabón López, and Christopher J. Alfieri for a discussion on breaking the historic barriers of racial, socio-economic, gender, and sexual orientation bias in the legal profession. Panelists will explore their professional experiences with the bench and bar. The Hon. Nannette Jolivette Brown will moderate this discussion which will include a conversation on the current civil rights issues of today.

The program will be held on June 29, 2015 from 3:00 - 5:00 pm.  A reception will follow.  The program is inspired by the achievements of the Hon. Ivan I. R. Lemelle who will assume senior status this month.

For information, please contact the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association by phone at 580-7990

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 Leaders 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. 

2015 Human Rights Award Granted to Elia Diaz-Yaeger
Elia Diaz-Yaeger been selected to receive the 2014-2015 Louisiana State Bar Association Human Rghts Award. The Human Rights Award recognizes outstanding efforts made in promoting diversity in the legal profession.  In particular, it recognizes efforts ensuring the full and equal opportunity of all persons for entry and advancement in Louisiana’s legal profession. Nominees of the Human Rights Award  must demonstrate a sustained, long term commitment to encouraging, increasing and/or retaining diversity in the legal profession.

Ms. Diaz-Yaeger is a Shareholder in the law firm of Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin and Hubbard, where her primary areas of practice are industrial employment/long-latency lung disease litigation, insurance defense and coverage, environmental law and commercial litigation.

Diaz-Yaeger actively promotes diversity and inclusion of women and Hispanics in the legal professions through various professional organizations. She is President of the Hispanic Lawyers of Louisiana. Diaz-Yaeger is also a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association (“HNBA”), where she currently is one of fifty members selected nationally to participate in the HNBA/Associate of Corporate Counsel Executive Leadership Program. Diaz-Yaeger also monitors legal trends and proposed laws that directly impact or affect the local Hispanic community. 

The Human Rights award will be presented on June 11, 2015 at the LSBA General Assembly during the Combined Annual Meeting/Summer School in Sandestin, Florida. 

2015 Trailblazer Award Granted to J. Dalton Courson
J. Dalton Courson has been selected to receive the 2014-2015 Louisiana State Bar Association Trailblazer Award.  The  Trailblazer Award recognizes members of the Bar from a group underrepresented within the Louisiana legal profession who have demonstrated excellence or accomplished greatness in the face of great adversity.

Mr. Courson is a member of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C. in New Orleans. He maintains a litigation practice focused on business litigation and insurance coverage disputes. Since 2011, he has served as co-chair for the LGBT Litigator Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lawyers and offers a forum for discussion on the unique issues LGBT attorneys face in their practices. He recently authored “Reality Check: Combating Implicit Bias,” an article on unconscious bias and its impact on LGBT lawyers, which was published this year in Bar Briefs and by the Section of Litigation in Litigation News. Courson also recently presented a discussion on the issue of schools, bullying, and the law for the New Orleans Bar Association, and he previously co-authored “Title IX Liability for Anti-Gay Bullying,” which appeared in LGBT Litigator. Courson is a former member of the Litigation Section's Diversity Committee.

In 2012, the National LGBT Bar Association named Courson as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40. From 2006 until 2011, he served on the board of directors for AIDSLaw of Louisiana, Inc., a nonprofit organization formed to meet the legal needs of low-income Louisianans living with HIV. He was selected as AIDSLaw co-chair for 2010-2011. Courson was selected by New Orleans CityBusiness as "One to Watch" in law firm in their June 28, 2013 issue. As part of a panel, he presented "Gay Rights in the Louisiana Workplace" at the 2014 Louisiana State University Current Developments in Labor and Employment Law seminar. Courson is representing the Forum for Equality in a lawsuit challenging Louisiana's constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed outside of the state.

The Trailblazer Award will be presented on June 11, 2015 at the LSBA General Assembly during the Combined Annual Meeting/Summer School in Sandestin, Florida.

LADB and Diversity Integration Subcommittee Present Series of Diversity CLE Seminars
The second CLE in a five-part diversity series with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB), took place in Baton Rouge Wednesday, May 27.  Administrative Law Judge Kelly McNeil Legier and Chauntis T. Jenkins, attorney with Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson, LLP,  facilitated the workshop.  The first in the series was hosted last month at the Shreveport Convention Center in Shreveport.  Diversity speaker and attorney I.J. Clark-Sam was the facilitator for that meeting. 

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) Administrative Law Judge Kelly McNeil Legier and Chauntis T. Jenkins

May is Mental Health Month
Thanks to the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), a resource for employers seeking to recruit, hire, retain and advance qualified employees with disabilities, for the following article and resources!

May is Mental Health Month. And with nearly one in four Americans expected to experience some form of mental health condition each year, it's a fitting time for employers to explore strategies and practices for fostering a mental health-friendly workplace.

The National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center for Employers on the Employment of People with Disabilities (Employer TA Center) wants to use this month to remind employers that a truly inclusive workplace means supporting and welcoming all employees, including those with mental health conditions.

To that end, a number of no-cost resources are available to help ensure that your disability-related policies and practices take into consideration the needs of people with mental health conditions-this month, and every month. These include the following:

Clearly, work can be a key contributor to employees' sense of wellbeing. But employees are not the only ones to benefit from a mental health-friendly work culture. Inclusive workplace practices deliver numerous bottom-line advantages, including greater productivity, reduced insurance costs, and improved employee retention and morale. Furthermore, federal contractors covered by Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act may encourage self-identification by sending a clear message about their company's commitment to a workplace inclusive of people with disabilities, whether those disabilities are obvious to the eye or not.

To learn more about effective disability employment policies and practices that can benefit your business, visit AskEARN.org.

NAPABA to Host 2015 Annual Convention in New Orleans
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,

Thank you to the 2014-15 Diversity Committee
The mission of LSBA Committee on Diversity in the Profession is to:
  • assess the level of racial, ethnic, national origin, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation and disability diversity within all components of the legal profession in Louisiana;
  • to identify barriers to the attainment of full and meaningful representation and participation in the legal profession by persons of diverse backgrounds;
  • and to propose programs and methods by which the LSBA can most effectively work to remove those barriers and achieve greater diversity.

On behalf of the LSBA, thank you to the 2014-15 Diversity Committee and Subcommittee members. Your service was greatly appreciated!

Diversity Committee

Hon. Roland L. Belsome, Jr.
Luis Arturo Leitzelar
Barbara Bourgeois Ormsby

Jeremy Christopher Lee Babers
Paul Stephen Tuano Balanon
Attorney General James D. Caldwell
Derrick Edwards
Demarcus Johnathan Gordon
Scherri Neewana Guidry
Kandace Runita Hamilton
Joseph Henry Hart, IV
Christopher Bondreak Hebert
Crystal Marie Heine
Paul Damon Hesse
Chauntis Trenelle Jenkins
Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson
Hon. Quintillis Kenyatta Lawrence
Wayne J. Lee
Hon. Kelly McNeil Legier
Prof. Maria Pabón López
Kellen James Mathews
Prof. David D. Meyer
Elena M. Perez
Chancellor Freddie Pitcher, Jr.
Michael Ray Robinson
Ronald Joseph Scalise, Jr.
Chantell Marie Smith
Scott Jerome Spivey
Ranie T. Thompson
Hon. Max N. Tobias, Jr.
Prof. Jack M. Weiss, III

Diversity Committee Subcommittees
Diversity Subcommittees are an integral part of the success of LSBA member outreach and diversity initiatives.  Thank you to the 2014-15 Diversity Subcommittee members for your time, your energy and your ideas. 

Diversity Committee Awards Subcommittee -
This subcommittee creates criteria for diversity awards; coordinates the nomination process for the Human Rights and Trailblazer Awards and other LSBA recognitions; develops other award/recognition incentives; and nominates the LSBA and LSBA members for diversity/inclusion awards offered by other organizations.

Chantell Marie Smith, Chair
Elena M. Perez, Co-Chair
Chauntis T. Jenkins

Diversity Committee Communications Subcommittee coordinates volunteers to submit diversity articles for the Louisiana Bar Journal and other publications; develops and coordinates content for the LSBA Bar Brief’s “Focus on Diversity” electronic newsletter; recommends content that would enhace the LSBA diversity webpage, and develops diversity brochures, bookmarks, and other communications as needed.

Crystal Marie Heine, Chair
Derrick Edwards, Co-Chair
Adrejia L. Boutte
Lauren E. Godshall
Hon. Kelly McNeil Legier
Claire M. Ojeh

Diversity Committee Conclave Subcommittee plans the  Annual Diversity Conclave, statewide mini diversity/inclusion workshops and roundtable discussions for local/specialty bars and organizations.

Hon. Roland L. Belsome, Jr., Co-Chair
Luis A. Leitzelar, Co-Chair
Barbara B. Ormsby, Co-Chair
Denia Aiyegbusi
Nadege A. Assale
Jeremy C. Babers
Troy N. Bell
Micah J. Fincher
Demarcus Johnathan Gordon
Christopher Hebert
Hon. Kelly McNeil Legier
Hon. Quintillis Kenyatta Lawrence
Kellen J. Mathews
Ebony S. Morris
Amani P. Perkins

Diversity Committee Integration Subcommittee recommends diversity programs and initiatives that can be integrated throughout all LSBA programming and continuing legal education seminars and also integrated within programming offered by local and specialty bar associations. Promotes and encourages LSBA members to obtain LSBA-approved diversity/inclusion facilitation training in order to facilitate diversity and inclusion professionalism discussions within LSBA programs and continuing legal educations seminars and programs coordinated by local and specialty bar associations. Coordinates diversity related programming to unite, support, and educate LSBA members on issues and topics of importance to those in the legal profession.

Scott Jerome Spivey, Chair
Joseph Henry Hart IV, Co-Chair
I.J. Clark-Sam
Monique M. Edwards
Jacqueline Epstein
Jeremy S. Epstein
Matthew J. Glodowski
Schalyece M. Harrison
Deborah Love
Michael Ray Robinson
Cherrilynne Washington Thomas

Diversity Committee LGBT Subcommittee - This subcommittee coordinates programs to unite, support, and educate attorneys, judges, professors, law students, paralegals, and other members of the legal profession in Louisiana on issues facing LGBT individuals; promotes the creation of coalitions with other legal bar associations and organizations; encourages the adoption of non-discrimination policies in law firms protecting both sexual orientation and gender identity; and encourages and empowers LGBT individuals to choose law as a career.

Paul D. Hesse, Chair
Tyler J. Douglas, Co-Chair
Paul Stephen Tuano Balanon
Max V. Camp
L. Bianca Chretien
Nicholas Hite
Robert E. Lancaster
Monte Mollere
Angie M. Peraza
Michael Schachtman
Nicholas C. Tomlinson
Emily Trostle
Zachary L. Wool

Diversity Committee Pipeline to Diversity/Outreach Subcommittee This subcommittee is tasked with outreach to two separate populations: 

Law students/students -- 
Coordinate and develop professional development workshops and programs for law students with diverse backgrounds; coordinate and develop programs for middle school, high school, college students; volunteer and identify volunteers for programs to expose children to legal professionals; identify and apply for grants to fund LSBA pipeline initiatives.
Law firms/Judiciary --
Encourage diversity efforts within the judiciary and law firms; assist in providing educational components and training on various diversity issues; assess diversity needs of law firms; recommend programs to assist law firms and courts in developing diversity programs and strategic plans; and plan efforts to encourage courts and law firms to execute the diversity commitment statement.

Scherri N. Guidry, Chair
Kandace R. Hamilton, Co-Chair
Chanelle N. Gaither
Erin Guruli
Tracy O. Joseph
Rhonda M. Mercadel
Charles K. Middleton
Ranie T. Thompson
Hon. Max N. Tobias
Lykisha R. Vaughan
Jack M. Weiss III

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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