It has been a very busy year for the Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law.
First of all, our committee has been renamed from the ISBA standing committee on Minority and Women Participation to its current name of Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law and our mission has been focused on educating and creating awareness of issues impacting racial and ethnic minorities.
We co-sponsored or collaborated with other ISBA committees on several events and programs in the 2009-2010 year, including the following:
• ISBA cable program: Choosing a Good Lawyer was taped on August 17, 2009. Amina Saeed, who is the current vice-chair of our Committee, came up with the idea, submitted the proposal to the ISBA cable program committee, and obtained diverse speakers including Jesus Perez; Bonita Choi; and Yaser Tabbara, who spoke on the panel on educating the minority population on how to choose a good lawyer. We plan to encourage our members to show this program to their constituents in order to educate those in the community who are unfamiliar with the process of obtaining legal representation.
• Celebrating Women in the Profession Luncheon was held in Chicago on March 9, 2010, with keynote speaker Barbara J. Howard, President of the Ohio State Bar Association, who spoke to a room full of women and men that although gender bias has lessened from when she started her career, we still has a long way to go to achieve diversity and equal pay in the legal profession. In addition, two trailblazers who have paved the road to a more diverse bench, Honorable Susan F. Hutchinson, 2nd District Appellate Court, and Honorable Jane L. Stuart, Cook County Circuit Judge, were honored with the ISBA’s Presidential Commendation Awards.
• Seek the Power!: A Law Student’s Guide to Authentic Self Promotion program was held at Northern Illinois University College of Law on April 9, 2010, in which Paula Holderman presented benefits and tips on networking to law students and Honorable Susan F. Hutchinson and NIUCOL Dean Jennifer Rosato offered words of wisdom to the future lawyers that achieving a good reputation through civility and networking is priceless to a successful legal career.
• NIUCOL reception, which followed the Seek the Power! program. Law students were given the opportunity to network with local attorneys as well as leaders from the ISBA, including President John O’Brien; President-Elect Mark D. Hassakis; 2nd Vice-President John Thies; and 3rd Vice-President John Locallo. Members from both our Committee as well as the Committee on Women and the Law stepped up to the plate and came together to contribute to the cost of this reception and the raffle prizes that were given away to the attendees.
What is in our future for the 2010-1011 year? Our members have been active in obtaining a speakers’ bureau that lists minority and/or female attorneys who can and should be utilized in substantive CLE courses; a CLE proposal with a panel of minority and/or female judges who can offer their insights on the road to the bench; and a cable program on demystifying the process of getting into and succeeding in law schools for minority students. ■