Member Groups

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

December 2011, vol. 22, no. 2

Diversity Fellow Spotlight—Beverly A. Allen, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc.

Beverly A. Allen has been a leader in bringing justice and equality to the underprivileged since she was a student at St. Louis University School of Law, where she earned her J.D. in 1990. Each and every year of law school, Beverly served those who could not receive legal assistance at the St. Louis University Law Clinic. Upon graduation, Beverly was commissioned to be Judge Advocate General’s Corp of the United States Naval Reserve.

Beverly worked at the Naval Legal Service Office in Norfolk, Virginia for two years before being appointed to the Defense Department, Naval Air Station Oceana, where she was eventually promoted to Department Head. During her time in the Naval Reserve, Beverly handled cases for victims of racial and ethnic discrimination even while occasionally facing discrimination as an African American woman. Despite these challenges, and as a result of her leadership qualities, Beverly was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander within four years.

After leaving the Naval Reserve, Beverly began working at the Central Office of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation (Land of Lincoln) in East St. Louis. In order to understand the community served by Land of Lincoln, one cannot ignore East St. Louis’ past. East St. Louis was wracked by lynchings and race riots during the Reconstruction Era as African Americans migrated from the rural south in search of a living wage. Since 1950, the population of East St. Louis has steadily decreased as non-minority residents migrated away from the city. Unmistakable signs of historic segregation and economic inequality are characteristic of East St. Louis today.

At Land of Lincoln, Beverly handled private landlord/tenant, consumer, utility and family law cases until 1998. Beverly also drew upon her managerial experience in the military to develop and implement a legal hotline. With the legal hotline, Beverly aimed to increase the quantity and quality of legal services that Land of Lincoln could provide to citizens who could not afford legal help. The legal hotline morphed into the Land of Lincoln, Legal Advice and Referral Center, with Beverly as Managing Attorney, growing the hotline from a small staff to seven attorney intake and advice lines. With avid support from administration, Beverly has also developed the program-wide race equity initiative and now heads the Land of Lincoln Race Equity Task Force. The Task Force is committed to strengthening recruitment practices that will attract diverse talent at all levels within the organization and support the promotion and advancement of minority employees.

Given her decades-long dedication to serving those who cannot afford legal services, advocating on behalf of minorities and fighting for equal justice, it is only fitting that Beverly has been appointed to the ISBA Diversity Leadership Council as a 2011-2012 Fellow. The ISBA Diversity Fellows program was inaugurated in 2010 to increase diversity in the membership of ISBA section councils, committees, and other leadership positions, to educate young lawyers about the work, structure, and policies of the ISBA, and to develop a diverse group of future leaders of the organization. ■