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Letter to the editor

DU doing its share to boost number of black lawyers

On November 15, 2021

 

NEW ORLEANS (November 15, 2021) – The United States needs more black lawyers, and I plan to be one of them. I’m proud to say that Dillard University’s Pre-Law Program is doing its share to rectify the inequity and is being recognized for it.

The ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, released in August, reported that black attorneys comprise roughly 4.7% of all lawyers, down slightly from 4.8% in 2011. In contrast, blacks made up 14.2% of the U.S. population in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Black lawyers are needed especially in the criminal justice system, where far too many African Americans are housed. The Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that 38.1% of those incarcerated are black; that’s more than double the percentage of the black U.S. population. The National Sentencing Project says one in 81 blacks are imprisoned, and they are imprisoned at five times the rate of whites. In a word, we have too many blacks in prison and not nearly enough black lawyers.

In a recent article, lawyer Gwendolyn Lewis encouraged the next generation of black students to change the narrative. She asked the youth to be the change that will move African American representation in law from 5% to 10%. Her exact words were, “Do something you have never done to press for change and increase representation and advancement.”

Dillard’s Pre-Law Program, created by attorney Adria Kimbrough, is doing its part to change that. The program has been recognized nationally for its Mock Trial team and received the prestigious 2018 ABA Section of Litigation’s Diversity Leadership Award.

It was the only undergraduate institution and the only HBCU to get a Diversity Pipeline Grant for its LEAD (Legal Education Advancing Diversity) program to prepare students for the Law School Admissions Test. And it received another grant for a second program, Foundation to LEAD, for juniors at Dillard, Southern University New Orleans and Xavier.

Lawyer De’Jonique Carter, the program’s former success coach, was recently named to succeed Kimbrough as adviser.

I look forward to becoming a part of the community of black lawyers fighting for change.

Brandie Hayes 

Junior Political Science major

Baton Rouge

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