MISSION STATEMENT

BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND STAFF

PRO BONO PROGRAM

DIVERSITY CONSULTANTS

EVENTS AND PROGRAMS

THE NUMBERS

ARCHIVES

MEMBERSHIP

JOBS TO CAREERS

NAT’L INSTITUTE FOR DIVERSITY IN LAW

EXECUTIVE COACHING

DIVERSITY RECRUITERS

MODEL PROGRAMS

WEBSITE LINKS

 

arrowBack to Homepage

 


MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to advocate for and actively promote greater racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession nationwide, so that our law schools, judicial systems and lawyers more accurately reflect the communities they serve.  To better serve our diverse communities, we also provide civil pro bono legal services to underserved communities in Northern California so that disadvantaged individuals and micro-businesses may gain economic self-sufficiency to combat community deterioration.

HISTORY 

            In the summer of 1999, President Clinton summoned hundreds of the United States leading attorneys, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, to the White House.  He did so in the tradition of President Kennedy, who in the summer of 1963 had asked more than 200 prominent lawyers to the White House, seeking their support in the fight against segregation.  In his address thirty-six years later, which became known as “A New Call to Action,” President Clinton asked the legal profession’s assistance again, this time to fight discrimination and revitalize America’s poorest communities.  President Clinton proposed that American lawyers fight poverty and discrimination by increasing pro bono legal services to households with no access to a lawyer, helping inner-city businesses and entrepreneurs, and aiding and mentoring minority law students.

            The President’s Call to Action was the catalyst for Lawyers For One America.  Teveia Rose Barnes serves as the founding Executive Director and spearheads the collaboration of lawyers, law firms, corporations, bar associations and public interest organizations from around the nation to head the New Call to Action.  As recommended in Bar None: Report to the President of the United States on the Status of People of Color and Pro Bono Services in the Legal Profession (2000),  Ms. Barnes incorporated Lawyers For One America as a nonprofit public benefit 501(c) (3) tax exempt corporation to advocate for and actively promote greater racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession, so that this nation’s law schools, judicial systems and lawyers more accurately reflect the communities they serve.  To better serve our diverse communities, LFOA provides civil pro bono legal services so that disadvantaged individuals, micro-businesses and nonprofit organizations may gain economic self-sufficiency to combat community deterioration.   LFOA’s mission is implemented through the Lawyers For One America Diversity and Pro Bono Law Center. 

             The lack of meaningful diversity in the legal profession is a grave issue directly related to opportunity.  While people of color comprise approximately one-quarter of the American population, just 10 percent of the legal profession consists of people of color.  Attorneys of color comprise just 3 percent of attorneys in law firms, traditionally the centers of power in the profession.  LFOA assists in increasing the percentage of lawyers of color in the profession. This work helps provide economic opportunity to those to whom it was previously unavailable.  

            Lack of legal services to those who cannot afford them is also a critical problem.  The American Bar Association estimates that nation wide, pro bono services met only 20 percent of the legal needs of the poor.  The need for civil legal services for the working poor is especially pressing, as they are not eligible for indigent pro bono programs, not able to afford market rate attorneys fees, and effectively left without representation.  Yet meeting their needs is critical, as they are particularly vulnerable to economic setback, and vital to the social and economic stability of our communities.   The ABA has found that half of all low-income households have at least one serious legal problem each year, but that three out of four have no access to a lawyer.  LFOA will help fill that gap.   

            LFOA’s programs encourage community building and inclusiveness, seeking to reverse local and national trends that disfavor the working poor and communities of color.  LFOA does not engage in any political activities.  Specifically, LFOA does not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.  LFOA may engage in legislative lobbying as permitted by law, to further its exempt purposes of increasing diversity in the legal profession and increasing pro bono legal services in underserved communities.