Our role: support for African-American attorneys
Posted: 1:51 pm Fri, September 28, 2012
By Lori-Ann Jones
MABL aims to provide support, development
Most of you probably realize the percentage of African-American attorneys in the Twin Cities is low, but did you know that less than a half a percent of partners in Minneapolis law firms are African American and only 3 percent of associates are black?
Whenever you’re a member of a minority group of any kind, it’s helpful to find places where you can get formal and informal support. After graduating in 2008 from Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, I was recruited to the Twin Cities by Fredrikson & Byron. An African-American attorney at the firm encouraged me to join the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL).
After attending only a few gatherings, I made connections that have been incredibly valuable for my career and my future. MABL is a great resource for young attorneys like me whose careers are just beginning and for those who’ve been in practice for many years. It is a small organization, but it’s a lifeline for black lawyers in the Twin Cities.
Our organization is the leading minority bar association whose mission is to promote and support the professional development of black lawyers, judges and law students in Minnesota. It is a chapter of the National Bar Association (NBA), the nation’s oldest and largest national association of predominately African-American lawyers and judges.
We also work to ensure that there is a strong pipeline of black law students who are well prepared and have access to jobs in the field of law. As part of this initiative, through its MABL Foundation, the organization annually selects talented minority law students throughout Minnesota to receive scholarships. MABL also puts on programs to help law student navigate and succeed at their first year of law school.
Of course, as a membership organization, MABL exists primarily to serve members. We offer referral tools for people who want an African-American attorney, as well as employment and social opportunities for members. Often black lawyers are recruited to Minnesota from other parts of the country by law firms or corporations. We strive to build relationships with them, so they become invested and want to stay here in this community.
Annual gala is Nov. 10
Our gala is open to everyone who supports diversity in the legal profession. Every year, the event attracts about 400 people. This year the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, Michelle Alexander, will be the keynote speaker.
Her book discusses the unreasonably high level of imprisonment of African-American men in the United States and other means of societal suppression, as well as the social consequences of discrimination for both people of color and for the country as a whole. Other gala highlights will include a cocktail reception and scholarship awards.
If you’re an African-American attorney looking for community connections or someone interested in involving more African Americans in the legal profession, MABL has something for you. Whether you are black or not, there are a lot of reasons to get involved with MABL.
For more information on stats on women and minorities by city, check out the National Association for Legal Career Professionals website.
President: Lori-Ann Jones
VP: Sellano Simmons
Secretary: Stanley Sandiford
Treasurer: Darryl Thomas
At Large Members: David Adams, Erbayne Jarvis, Jada Lewis, Mikiesha R. Mayes, Kristien R. E. Butler
Lori-Ann Jones is an attorney with Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. She was elected president of MABL in June, and she began serving her year-long term as president on July 1. She previously held the position of vice president of MABL. She can be reached at email@example.com. For more information about MABL, please see our website at www.mabl.org.