ILNews

MCBA puts renewed focus on diversity

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

TaKeena Thompson, president of the Marion County Bar Association, wants lawyers to know that the MCBA is just as important today as it was when it was founded in 1925.

“The Marion County Bar Association is still relevant. We’re here to serve, we’re here to continue to make sure that diversity is taking place in the legal profession, and we want to be that support group to minority attorneys as well,” she said.

To remind people about the relevance of the MCBA, Thompson came up with a slogan that captures its goals in 2012: “Revisiting Our Past, Rebuilding Our Present, Reshaping Our Future.”

In keeping with that theme, the MCBA is unveiling new networking opportunities, a fresh approach to fundraising to benefit Indianapolis youth, and a partnership designed to foster diversity in the profession.

New efforts

At its strategic planning meeting this year, senior members of the MCBA reported feeling disconnected from younger lawyers. In an effort to close that gap, the MCBA rolled out a new program in June, “Coffee Chat,” that allows bar members and judges to interact in a personal setting.

“I think a lot of people were excited. Our judges

were excited because it’s a nice way to bring our younger practitioners and older practitioners together, which has kind of been a concern of the MCBA,” she said.
 

il-mcba-02-15col.jpg (From left to right, back to front): Marion County Bar Association board members Noell Allen, vice chair; Juval Scott; Trezanay Atkins, treasurer; and TaKeena Thompson, president, pose for a photo at Cohen & Malad LLP in Indianapolis. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The event featured Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Carr Darden, retired Marion Superior Judge Webster Brewer, current Marion Superior Judges David A. Shaheed and Barbara Crawford, and former Warren Township Small Claims Judge Ricardo Rivera.

Cohen & Malad LLP, where Thompson is an attorney, hosted the event, allowing for a small-scale get-together where lawyers could ask the judges questions and get candid responses.

Promoting diversity

When the MCBA was founded, the American Bar Association did not accept African-American lawyers as members – and the ABA maintained that restriction until 1952. Thompson thinks attitudes about diversity have changed for the better since then. She pointed to Indiana State Bar Association 2009-2010 president Roderick Morgan, the association’s first black president. Thompson thinks that the selection of Morgan to lead the ISBA “speaks volumes” to diversity and how it’s increased and progressed in Indiana.

But the MCBA is focusing on doing more to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

The MCBA is partnering with Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy in Indianapolis and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law to introduce young students to the legal profession. Curriculum for the new program, which is to be implemented for the 2012-2013 school year, is in development.

“I’m hoping through that partnership, we can create a pipeline and help increase diversity that way, so that we see minority students going from middle school and high school into college and into the legal profession,” Thompson said.

Jimmie McMillian, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, joined the MCBA as a law student in 1999. He said the MCBA may offer young lawyers the support they need early in their careers.

“It’s an extremely comfortable and welcoming environment – and that’s a lot of what you need. You’re free to ask questions, to get information, you’re free to be yourself, and I think in some ways it’s almost a family-like environment. As a young lawyer, you want a place where you don’t feel like you’re in a foreign land,” he said.

Community outreach

McMillian sees the benefit of participation in MCBA outreach efforts.

“Through my involvement in that organization and involvement in some of the community service that we were able to initiate, I think I became more visible to community leaders as a whole, and that has served me well professionally and personally,” he said.

MCBA board member Noell Allen talked about a new outreach effort planned for July 21. The James C. Kimbrough Bar Association, an African-American bar association based in Merrillville, contacted the MCBA about working together on a fundraising project. The MCBA identified the Wheeler-Dowe Boys & Girls Club, in Indianapolis, as a worthy cause because of its efforts to combat childhood obesity and associated health problems.

“We chose the Wheeler-Dowe Boys & Girls Club because we wanted to focus on some of the elements that affect the African-American community, one being diabetes,” Allen said.

The two bar associations initially considered having a charity golf outing, but wanting to do something original, they decided to hold a basketball tournament.

Allen said the event at Wheeler-Dowe will include a lawyer basketball game comprised of two 10-minute halves, a three-point contest, and a half-court shootout contest. The event is open to all members of the legal profession, and they’re still looking for contestants who can participate for a fee of $15. Allen said the MCBA is also working on getting a few celebrities to attend the event and sign autographs for children.

The MCBA expects donations and sponsorships to bolster their fundraising efforts.

“If we can give the Wheeler-Dowe Boys & Girls Club a nice check of $15,000 to $20,000, that would be a success,” Allen said.

The day after the Wheeler-Dowe fundraiser, the MCBA will hold its “Going to Church” pro bono program – which is similar to the ISBA’s “Ask A Lawyer” program – at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis.

The MCBA will also hold a retirement dinner for Darden on Sept. 14 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Thompson said save-the-date reminders will be mailed soon. Bar leaders also hope to host two more Coffee Chat gatherings this year.

New energy

Thompson credits an active and dedicated board of directors with bringing new momentum to the MCBA. And Allen said that if the MCBA seemed a bit silent in the past, all of the new initiatives will help remind people of the group’s relevance.

McMillian explained that through his MCBA membership he has forged connections with people who share his cultural heritage, and found new opportunities.

“As a lawyer, you’re planting seeds and you’re hoping that they grow, and the MCBA is definitely a place – definitely fertile ground – to plant those seeds and see them grow, and that’s what it’s meant for my career,” he said.

For more information about MCBA events, contact TaKeena Thompson at tthompson@cohenandmalad.com.•
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  2. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

  3. The story that you have shared is quite interesting and also the information is very helpful. Thanks for sharing the article. For more info: http://www.treasurecoastbailbonds.com/

  4. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  5. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

ADVERTISEMENT