According to the American Bar Association, in 2012 there were 1,268,011 licensed lawyers in the United States. However, in 2010 only 4.8% of attorneys were Black, 3.7% Hispanic and 3.4% Asian Pacific American. In the 2011- 2012 academic year the percentage of minority enrollment in law school was only 24.5%. In order to foster diversity in the legal profession, mentorship opportunities must be provided to underrepresented communities within our profession.
One component of the Justice & Diversity Center’s (JDC) pipeline initiative includes mentorship opportunities for college students, law students, recent graduates and attorneys. The goal of the program is to initiate a mentorship relationship that will last through JDC mentees academic and professional careers.
In the past year BASF/JDC has paired approximately 33 diverse attorneys with 40 college students, law students and recent graduates. Many of our mentees are diverse, first-generation college and graduate students interacting with attorneys for the first time.
What Participants are Saying About the Mentorship Program
“I decided to become a mentor in the BASF program to do my part and help young people from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, much like myself, make informed decisions about whether to go into law. Although the program is aimed at helping youth, the opportunity to have discussions with bright-eyed, curious, ambitious, motivated and hungry young people is inspiring to me as well. The discussions remind me of why our profession is so important and why the work I do as a consumer and employment lawyer at my firm is worthwhile and fulfilling.”
– Glicel Sumagaysay, Minami Tamaki
“My mentor taught me to have pride and confidence in myself. Having a mentor lets me be myself and get frank advice from an individual who has a regard for my professional future.”
– Tejal Naik, Golden Gate University School of Law, 2014 Graduate
“I owe my success and continued progress to guidance that I have received (and still receive) from my mentors. I chose to become a mentor so that I could help others face the challenges I have faced while progressing in my practice. Mentoring is an opportunity and, for me, an obligation to give back – my attempt to ensure that my more-junior colleagues receive the same guidance and opportunities I have.”
– Aurelio Pérez, Littler Mendelson
“Change rarely happens overnight or without group effort. No one is exempt from overcoming difficulties or the need for guidance. Because of this, it is important that attorneys help foster change and give back to the community. We have all been in the position of not knowing what to do or how to achieve our goals. Finding one’s professional path is often a result of the people we meet and the guidance that is provided. I have had the pleasure of many mentors in my life —without this guidance, I would have stumbled many times and may have followed the wrong path.”
– Shannon Dilley, Hankerson Law Group
Learn more: Email Nicole Britton-Snyder, Diversity Pipeline Programs Manager at email@example.com to find out how to become a mentor.