Diversity is defined by the King County Bar Association to refer to the inclusion of individuals who self-identify with those groups historically discriminated against, and which continue to experience the effects of such, and/or who are under-represented in the legal profession including on the basis of disability, gender, race/ ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. (KCBA Board of Trustees, 4/20/11).
Diversity thrives in every area in which attorneys practice law in King County, including the judiciary, in numbers that are, at minimum, proportional to the diversity of King County’s general population. (KCBA Diversity Committee, 1/6/12).
AREAS OF FOCUS
Minority Law Student Scholarships
Started in 1970 when the King County Bar raised $10,000 for minority law student scholarships, this program has grown today to scholarship awards of over $150,000 annually, divided between the University of Washington and Seattle University Schools of Law. As one of the largest providers of minority law student scholarships in the state of Washington, the King County Bar’s cumulative scholarship grants are in excess of $2.5 million through June, 2019. Current and past recipients are honored each fall at a minority bar scholars reception.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon
From modest beginnings in the mid-1990s at the Plymouth Congregational Church, the King County Bar’s annual luncheon honoring the legacy of Dr. King now attracts over 800 lawyers, judges, and civic leaders each year and is the bar’s signature diversity event. The event features nationally known keynote speakers, including in recent years Donna Brazille, Andrew Young, Henry Louis Gates, Yamiche Alcindor, and Eugene Robinson, who inspire the local legal community to remember and act on Dr. King’s message that all individuals are entitled to justice and equality under the law. Learn more at www.kcba.org/mlkluncheon.
LSAT Preparation Grant Program
The King County Bar offers financial support to diverse undergraduate students and recent graduates taking the Law School Admission Test. The grants secure commercial preparatory courses as well as fee waivers from the Law School Admissions Council for participants. Learn more at www.kcba.org/lsatprep.
Minority Bar Association Partnerships
The King County Bar works in coalition with over a dozen minority bar associations in Washington State on various projects including diversity conferences and judicial forums. KCBA also provides insurance coverage and training resources to minority bars that host pro bono legal service clinics for members of their communities. Recent pro bono partners have included the Asian, Korean American, Loren Miller, Middle Eastern, and Q-LAW/GLBT bar associations.
KCBA Building a Book of Business
Based on the premise that those minority attorneys who are successful within law firms are more likely to stay, this program helps minority associates in private practice improve their chances for success. In a closed-door seminar, successful minority lawyers instruct participants how to effectively market themselves and acquire new clients for their firms. No more than fifteen young attorneys are selected for this program annually. The program concluded in 2016.
Future of the Law Institute
Established in 2001, the Future of the Law Institute (FLI) was a year-long program for minority and economically disadvantaged high school students interested in learning more about a career in the law. FLI provided students with substantive legal workshops, career counseling, a mock trial, and opportunities to meet with legal professionals. Students were eligible for scholarships when they continue on to higher education. Over 800 students participated in this program before it concluded in 2015.