Hundreds of Aspiring Black Lawyers Converged for an Intensive, Power-Packed Weekend of Encouragement and Empowerment
The annual National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair sponsored by AccessLex Institute took place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This event is known as the nation's premier information-sharing and networking empowerment event for aspiring Black lawyers as it provides critical information, resources and connections to attendees.
This annual powerful and jam-packed conference weekend was founded in 2005 by a first-generation college and law school graduate Evangeline M. Mitchell, who is also a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She created the event because of her own personal experiences of having to navigate the challenging process of getting into and through law school and becoming a lawyer with little guidance and mentorship.
"Although I was hardworking and highly motivated, I absolutely felt blindsided and penalized because of who I didn't know and what I didn't know. I remember talking to other college students and saying to them that it didn't make sense to me that there were other people who have successfully completed the path I was on and that I was constantly trying to figure things out on my own. I made a promise to myself at that time that I would go out of my way to make sure that others didn't have to go through what I went through. This event is the realization of that promise."
Fourteen years later, this event has helped thousands of African Americans interested in law school gain the critical insider information, resources and connections they need to increase their chances of success in a highly competitive and obstacle-laden application process, law school experience, and legal profession.
At the event, persons interested in pursuing law school, college students, graduates and working professionals alike, were able to visit all of the Boston-area law schools, take a mock Law School Admission Test, prepare for and take part in a mock law school class conducted by Harvard Law School professor Ronald Sullivan, Esq., and participate in a Law School Recruitment Fair where over 100 law schools and law-related non-profit organizations and employers participated.
Attendees were also able to take advantage of major plenary sessions featuring numerous local, regional and national Black Law Students Association leaders, city and state bar association leaders, and dynamic and well-respected keynote speakers. Keynotes included the Honorable Dennis Archer, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice and the first Black President of the American Bar Association, Karen Wishart, Esq., MBA, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Urban One, Inc., Jessica Soban, Esq., Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Admissions, Harvard Law School, Charles R. Davidson, J.D., Ph.D., Director, Pre-Law Institute and Center for Post-Graduate Opportunities, City University of New York John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lisa E. Davis, Esq., Partner, Entertainment Group, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz PC, Conway Ekpo, Esq., Executive Director, Legal Counsel, Morgan Stanley, Nichole Francis Reynolds, Esq., Vice President, Public Policy, Mastercard, Marlen D. Whitley, Esq., Senior Corporate Counsel, Weedmaps, and Stephanie Robinson, Esq., Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School and Faculty Dean, Harvard College.
In addition, there were informative panels featuring knowledgeable and prominent panel members covering topics including what competitive looks like in the highly competitive law school admissions process, how to successfully navigate and thrive in the law school environment as a Black law student, key things that aspiring lawyers should know in terms of professionalism, etiquette and mandatory soft skills to help ensure their success in law school, in life and in the professional world, and how Black lawyers can be difference makers and use their law degrees to help uplift the Black community. Moreover, there were information-
The event ended with the Pursuit of Justice Awards and the Aspiring Lawyers Pinning Ceremony. This portion of the program was led by future lawyer attendees who introduced speakers and awardees and shared their public speaking, vocal and spoken word talents. The event culminated with attendees reciting the Aspiring Lawyer Success Pledge and being pinned with eagle pendants by current lawyers.
Complimentary receptions and professional headshots were provided, as well as free resources such as Law School Admission Test preparation books offered by the Law School Admission Council, and articles and books written and edited by the conference's founder.
Even more, from the beginning and throughout the event, there was a lot of encouragement for attendees to network and create a circle of support by connecting with other aspiring lawyers to gain accountability partners, and to make meaningful connections with current law students and lawyers who can potentially serve as mentors beyond the actual event as long as they commit to work on building and maintaining those relationships. It was emphasized that their creating a support system can be the difference between aspiring lawyers falling off the path too soon or successfully persisting until reaching their goals.
According to attendee Dilon Goncalves, "The National Black Pre-Law Conference was nothing short of spectacular. Throughout the weekend I learned from legal professionals about their experience in their respective field. The experience was like no other. The insight that was provided to us by current law students, panelists, and attorneys was second to none because they kept it real with us. The journey to being a lawyer is not easy and many of the speakers were able to share their remarkable stories with us. Prior to the conference, I had so many uncertainties and questions about the law school process and all of my questions were answered and my uncertainties were put to rest. I will become an attorney! I walked away learning more then I would've imagined. I found resources to go to and a network of amazing professionals and students that I can trust."
The event was offered completely free of charge and open to all. For information about the upcoming 15th anniversary event, please visit their website at http://www.blackprelawconference.org.
Evangeline M. Mitchell, Esq., Ed.M.
Page Updated Last on: Nov 26, 2018