I am truly humbled to serve as the 2016-2017 President of the Wolverine Bar Association and Wolverine Bar Foundation. In considering the direction of the Wolverine Bar for this year, I reflected on our standing as the powerful force we have been not only in the legal community for over 80 years, but in the community as a whole. We stand proud today, not because of a few, but because of many working together to achieve equal opportunity, equal justice and equal access. The key here is “together”.
With this notion in mind, the theme for this Bar Year is “It takes a Village…” This age-old expression establishes a framework that is all-encompassing and crucial to improving our efforts concerning diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, a goal we should never lose sight of.
In striving to achieve this end, we will reach back farther with our pipeline programming. The sharp decline in recent law school enrollment has been alarming in general, but the rates for African Americans are abysmal and particularly appalling for African American males. We must start earlier. While we offer phenomenal resources and programming to law students of color, we must recalibrate and concentrate our efforts on reaching and cultivating our youth as early as possible. This must be done to guide them THROUGH the pipeline so that they get TO law school. To that end, we will be partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit to pilot the “AIM” Program: Advocating, Inspiring and Mentoring, a mentorship program that will allow us to interact one-on-one with youth in underserved areas, teaching them life skills, advocacy skills and offering them much-needed exposure.