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Laurie Robinson Haden’s HBCU Tour Sparks Aspiring Lawyers

Laurie Robinson Haden's HBCU Tour Sparks Aspiring Lawyers
Photo Courtesy: Laurie R. Haden

In the spring of 2024, Laurie Robinson Haden, a prominent figure in the legal community, embarked on a transformative journey to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the United States. Her mission: to ignite a spark of interest in the next generation of lawyers and address the longstanding disparity in the legal profession. As the nation celebrates Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery in the United States, it is particularly poignant to note that nearly 200 years after Macon Bolling Allen became the first African American licensed to practice law in the United States, Black lawyers still comprise less than 4 percent of the profession. Haden’s tour was both timely and essential in this context.

The Legacy of Macon Bolling Allen

Macon Bolling Allen’s achievement in 1844 was monumental. Passing the bar in Maine, he paved the way for future generations of Black lawyers despite the pervasive racial discrimination of his time. Allen’s perseverance and success stand as a testament to the resilience and potential of Black individuals in the legal field. However, his groundbreaking accomplishment has not translated into significant representation; to date, the legal profession remains one of the least diverse professions, and the percentage of Black lawyers remains disproportionately low. Laurie is on a mission to transform the industry.    

Laurie Robinson Haden: A Catalyst for Change

At the helm of the 5,000-member-strong Corporate Counsel Women of Color, Laurie has long been dedicated to diversifying the legal profession. As the CEO of CCWC and a former senior executive at CBS Corporation, Haden has leveraged her platform to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal community. Her Pre-Law Tour is a reflection of her commitment to creating pathways for aspiring, diverse attorneys. From Howard University to the halls of Chicago State University, Clark Atlanta University and more, Haden is creating a movement with her ‘2024 My Life as a Lawyer Pre-Law Tour.’

The Tour: Engaging, Educating, and Empowering

Laurie Robinson

Photo Courtesy: Laurie R. Haden

Haden’s tour spanned several months, with stops at key HBCUs known for their strong pre-law programs and commitment to fostering leadership among students from underrepresented groups. At each campus, Haden hosted an interactive panel discussion and provided one-on-one mentorship. Her approach was holistic, addressing not only the academic and professional aspects of a legal career but also the personal and emotional challenges that diverse students may face.

Bringing Role Models to Campus

A significant feature of the tour was the inclusion of practicing female attorneys who joined Haden at each campus. These accomplished women served as role models, demonstrating to students that success in the legal profession is achievable and that there are people who look like them thriving in this field. Their presence underscored the message that with determination and support, students could overcome barriers and succeed in law.

Workshops and Discussions

The workshops were designed to demystify the legal profession, providing students with a comprehensive overview of what it takes to become a lawyer. Topics included the law school admission process, preparing for the LSAT, navigating law school, and succeeding in the bar exam. Haden and her colleagues shared their experiences, offering practical advice and strategies for success. The tour inspired Haden to write her second book, Preparing for a Career in the Legal Profession: For High School and College Students Interested In Becoming Lawyers.

Mentorship and Networking

Recognizing the importance of mentorship and professional networks, Haden facilitated connections between students and practicing lawyers. These relationships are crucial for providing guidance, support, and opportunities in a field where diverse professionals are underrepresented. By fostering these connections, Haden aimed to build a robust support system for aspiring lawyers from diverse and underrepresented groups.

Distribution of “It’s Time to Shine”

Haden also distributed copies of her book, “It’s Time to Shine,” to students at each stop. The book chronicles her law career and serves as an inspiring testament to how faith and fortitude can help one overcome tough hurdles. By sharing her personal journey, Haden aimed to motivate students to persist through challenges and strive for excellence in their legal careers.

Celebrating Juneteenth and Beyond

The timing of the tour coincided with the lead-up to Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom and emancipation in the United States. Haden highlighted the significance of this historic occasion, emphasizing that while individuals celebrate past victories, they must also continue to make strides toward equality and representation in all fields, including the legal profession. Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for true freedom and justice, and Haden’s tour is a call to action for the next generation to contribute to this legacy.

The Impact and Vision for the Future

The impact of Laurie Robinson Haden’s HBCU pre-law tour is already palpable. Students who participated have reported feeling more confident, informed, and inspired to pursue careers in law. By providing them with the tools, knowledge, and support needed to succeed, Haden is helping to cultivate a new generation of diverse lawyers who will contribute to a more diverse and equitable legal system.

Haden’s vision extends beyond the tour. She advocates for systemic changes within law schools, law firms, and legal organizations to create more inclusive environments. By addressing issues of access, retention, and advancement for diverse lawyers, she aims to ensure that the legal profession reflects the diversity of the society it serves.

Laurie Robinson Haden's HBCU

Photo Courtesy: Laurie R. Haden

Laurie Robinson Haden’s pre-law tour is a significant step toward addressing the racial disparities in the legal profession. Inspired by the legacy of Macon Bolling Allen, Haden is not only igniting interest in the legal field among diverse students but also laying the groundwork for lasting change. Her efforts, particularly in conjunction with the celebration of Juneteenth, are a testament to the power of mentorship, education, and advocacy in creating a more just and equitable society.

Published by: Nelly Chavez

 

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