Member Groups

The Challenge
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law

October 2007, vol. 18, no. 1

Letter from the Chair

The Standing Committee on Minority and Women Participation is comprised of lawyers from all over the state who selflessly serve the mission of increasing diversity and participation for minorities and women in the legal profession. 

We tackle the issues that confront minorities and women lawyers and have set an ambitious goal of pushing the agenda of increasing the percentages of minority law students, minority lawyers in law firms and minority partners. We see ourselves as a source and a partner for the ever increasing need of lawyers to reflect the communities they represent. The percentage of minorities in the legal profession is not moving at the same pace as the population shifts in the United States. We struggle with ways to help students from diverse backgrounds attain the dream of becoming a lawyer. That means we support students in the educational continuum from literacy through law school in our mission to create a more just legal system for all. 

For those of us who actively participate on the Committee, we are called to serve the communities we represent and to reach back in the educational continuum to create more diversity in the legal profession. This year we plan to co-host a variety of high school, law student and lawyer focused activities aimed at enhancing diversity in the legal community. In the St. Louis Metro East area, we plan to partner with law students from Southern Illinois University School of Law and other law school in the area to create one or two programs tailored to the specific needs of minority and women lawyers. We are actively seeking co-sponsors, lawyers and law students to make sure the panels and the law student receptions after will be a total success.

In the Chicago area, we hope to co-host a law school event at DePaul University on November 3, 2007, from 1 to 5 p.m. We plan to provide three panel discussions involving a diverse group of practicing lawyers to discuss: How to Become a Partner (with subtle conversations about a perception that there is a glass ceiling for minorities), General Counsel Forum, and Alternative Paths to a Successful Legal Career. We are looking for speakers, so if you know of potential candidates from small, medium or large law firms, from corporations, from the solo-practitioner world or from the public service sector, please contact me directly at

We are also planning a Spring Law Day at John Marshall Law School where we will bring local high school students and their parents for an all day boot camp on what it takes to become a lawyer. We plan on having tracks for both the parents and the students to get them interested in law as a career and to create mock law school classroom settings so they can begin down that “path less traveled.”

The ISBA has been an incredible supporter of each and every idea we have been able to present. This year, Joe Bisceglia, the President of the ISBA, has been actively involved in the planning and coordination of the mission of our Committee. President Bisceglia has named the Diversity Task Force to focus on the issue of achieving greater diversity in the legal profession. 

For me, this promises to be an exciting year, and I want to look back and feel like we made a real difference in the short time we were able to serve.