Navan Ward, an attorney with Montgomery, Ala.-based firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., recently accepted a national First Place Award of Achievement from the American Bar Association on behalf of the Alabama State Bar Young Lawyers Section (YLS). The award was presented in recognition of an outstanding program developed by the bar’s YLS to address the shortage of minorities in the legal profession and increase diversity in the bar.
Hoping to reach young people to expand the appeal of law as a profession, the YLS developed a Minority Pre-Law Conference, which provides high school juniors and seniors a better understanding of the American civil and criminal justice systems through educational seminars, an interactive panel of speakers from the legal profession, and hands-on activities like mock trials.
Ward served as chair of the conference committee. Conference co-chair is J.R. Gaines of Montgomery (Gaines Law Firm, LLC).
The Minority Pre-Law Conference was held twice, once in Birmingham, Ala., and once in Montgomery, and featured a panel of minority attorneys from both cities representing various areas of law practice. Students were able to talk with the attorneys and ask questions, and learn about what an attorney’s daily work experiences might involve. Breakout sessions paired students with the attorneys, where they could ask more specific questions about a career in the legal profession.
“The goal of this program is building confidence in our system of justice, in our judiciary, and in the lawyers and judges who provide legal services to all Americans despite barriers of language and culture,” Ward said. “If lawyers and judges can achieve diversity, we believe our citizens will have more confidence in the ability of the legal and judicial system to help solve their problems.”
More than 400 students attended the Minority Pre-Law Conference.
The 4,700-member YLS is composed of lawyers who are 36 years of age and younger, or who have been admitted to the bar for three years or less. The section conducts various seminars and also sponsors service projects designed to aid the public in its understanding of the law and assist in solving legal problems.
Pictured are members of the ASB Award Winning Team, from left, Navan Ward of Montgomery (Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.), who chaired the YLS Minority Pre-Law Conference Committee; Immediate Past YLS Chair George R. Parker of Montgomery (Bradley Arant Rose & White, L.L.P.), who is holding the award; and J.R. Gaines of Montgomery (The Gaines Law Firm, LLC), Pre-Law Conference committee co-chair.