New Year and New Goals for the Minorities in the Profession Committee

Jasmine McGhee

LaToya Powell

By Jasmine McGhee and LaToya Powell

The Minorities in the Profession Committee (MIP) is gearing up for another exciting year as one of the most active committees in the North Carolina Bar Association. This year will bring unique challenges for our members. Many of us are still adjusting to the “new normal” of living, working, and educating our children in a digital world due to a global pandemic. We’re also experiencing one of the largest social justice movements in modern history, which has deeply impacted attorneys of color and our allies. Recognizing these challenges, MIP remains more committed than ever to providing a safe, supportive space for our members.

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2020 Legal Legends of Color Honorees Announced


By Sharita M. Whitaker

The word “change” has various definitions, but my favorite expression of change is “to shift; to undergo transformation or transition.” We can certainly say that “change” is inevitable in all aspects of our lives. Thus far in 2020 alone, we have witnessed how COVID-19 and other events have caused many of us to adjust when, how, and where we work and interact with others. Also, the NCBA has had to shift its 2020 Annual Meeting in Charlotte to an online, virtual program. But “change” presents us with an opportunity to reflect on and learn from our experiences and the experiences of others in order for each of us to evolve for the better.

Although we are unable to celebrate together at the Annual Meeting in Charlotte, and we are adjusting to the change by celebrating in other (virtual) ways, we are proud to announce our 2020 Legal Legends of Color honorees: Judge Yvonne Mims Evans, Senator Dan T. Blue Jr., Attorney Anthony Fox, Professor George R. Johnson Jr., and the late Attorney J. Kenneth Lee. In order to be named a Legal Legend of Color, such person must be (1) a lawyer of color practicing (or one who has practiced most recently) in North Carolina for at least 15 years, (2) have had a legal career with a significant impact in North Carolina, (3) have demonstrated a high level of service to his/her local community and/or on an statewide basis, and (4) be a member in good standing of the North Carolina State Bar (active or inactive). These five attorneys have more than satisfied the criteria for being named a Legal Legend of Color, and, further, they have all effected significant positive change in the North Carolina legal community and beyond. We are honored to share snippets of their distinguished careers with you:

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MIP Committee Holds Interview Day

By Jane Paksoy

The Minorities in the Profession Committee’s 1L Summer Associate Program (1L SAP) held its Interview Day at Ward and Smith’s Raleigh office on Thursday, February 13. After a marathon day of interviews, eleven talented 1Ls were matched with participating firms and companies. Participating employers this year were Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP; Duke Energy Corporation; Jackson Lewis P.C.; K&L Gates LLP; Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company; Passport Labs, Inc.; Poyner Spruill LLP; Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, LLP; Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC; Ward and Smith, P.A.; and Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP. Click here for additional coverage and click here to access photos from the event.

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Join Us for The Sixth Annual MIP Minority Pre-Law Conference

By LaToya Powell

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, the Minorities in the Profession Committee (“MIP”) of the North Carolina Bar Association will host the 6th Annual Minority Pre-Law Conference: “Putting the Pieces Together: Is Law School the Right Fit?” This year’s conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina and will feature a keynote address from Duke Law alumnus and Durham County District Attorney, the Honorable Satana Deberry. The program is open to all minority middle school, high school, and college students, who are interested in attending law school.  And, most importantly, it’s FREE!

What is the MIP Minority Pre-Law Conference?

The MIP Minority Pre-Law Conference is a program designed to empower minority students with the knowledge and tools necessary to successfully navigate the journey of becoming a lawyer. Despite the increasing focus on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, law remains the least diverse profession in the nation. Students from underrepresented backgrounds may not have lawyers in their families or communities, which makes it difficult to see oneself as a lawyer. The lack of insight about the application process, LSAT, and financial aid also may deter some students. The Minority Pre-Law Conference provides students with valuable information, resources, and contacts to help them better understand their options and overcome these obstacles.

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Welcome Message from the Co-Chairs

Tawanda Foster Artis

Jasmine McGhee

By Tawanda Foster Artis and Jasmine McGhee

Dear Members of the North Carolina Bar Association,
We are honored and excited to serve as the co-chairs for the Minorities in the Profession (“MIP”) Committee for the 2019-2020 Bar Year.

This committee has a full and rich history in one of our state’s largest voluntary bar associations.  Since 1987, MIP has worked to spotlight and eradicate discrimination and institutionalized racism in the legal profession, to expand opportunities for racially diverse attorneys and law students, and to educate the community at large.  MIP’s focus on addressing issues unique to attorneys and other legal professionals of color and minority law students make it one of the most active and value added committees of the Bar Association.  Our dedicated membership commits their time and talents to our projects and events each and every year.  We thank you for your continued support of this committee and our endeavors.

We have established an ambitious schedule full of impactful programming and events for this year.  Our calendar includes ¡Adelante! Moving Forward on November 2, 2019, the MIP Pre-Law Conference on March 21, 2020, the 1L Summer Associate Program in early 2020, the Diversity & Inclusion Summit on May 15, 2020, annual Legal Legend of Color Awards Reception during the Annual Meeting, as well as other networking events and pro bono programs. We also welcome the opportunity to partner with other Divisions, Sections, and Committees of the Bar Association and interested groups are encouraged to reach out to us at any time!

We know none of this would be possible without the help our invaluable committee members.  We are grateful for the support of our members, our allies, the bar association leadership, and every member of the Bar Association.  We look forward to seeing you all at an MIP event soon.

Best regards,

Tawanda Foster Artis ( and
Jasmine McGhee (

Co-Chairs, Minorities in the Profession Committee

Legal Legends of Color To Honor Five Attorneys at NCBA Annual Meeting


From left, Charles Daye, attorney Janice Cole, former legislator H. M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr., Judge Sammie Chess and the late Julius Chambers will be honored as Legal Legends of Color during the NCBA Annual Meeting.

By Russell Rawlings

The Minorities in the Profession Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association will celebrate the fourth installment of the Legal Legends of Color Award in conjunction with the 2019 NCBA Annual Meeting in Asheville.

The LLOC Reception will be held at the Biltmore, headquarters for the NCBA Annual Meeting, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, June 21. Admission to the reception is included in Annual Meeting registration. Non-members and NCBA members who are not otherwise attending the Annual Meeting should email Amy Kemple.

Although this is a relatively new award for lawyers of color in North Carolina, the LLOC Reception has already established itself as a popular event. There is great interest surrounding the history of this honor and, especially, the announcement of each year’s recipients.

For answers to these and other questions, please continue to the following Q&A interview with Gwendolyn Lewis of Lincoln Derr PLLC in Charlotte, a member of the Minorities in the Profession Committee who presently serves on the NCBA Board of Governors.

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Racial Equity Institute Introductory Groundwater Training Set For May 9 At the Bar Center


By Niya Fonville

Imagine being asked “Hey girl, what attorney are you here for?” by a court official or having a client you have never met claim (in a phone consultation) that “all the N-word and Mexicans are taking over and I can’t get help.” Then imagine being expected to zealously advocate for clients and be confident in the judge’s decision in spite of these statements to you. Now imagine being a 25-year-old, newly minted attorney when these “conversations” take place.

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Increasing Diversity In the Profession: The Fifth Annual Minority Pre-Law Conference

By LaToya Powell

Increasing the presence of minorities in the legal profession is an important goal of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Committee (MIP).  According to the American Bar Association, law is the least diverse profession in the nation.  Nationally, eighty-eight percent of lawyers are white and roughly two-thirds are men.  Improving this lack of diversity starts with law schools.

On March 16, 2019, MIP will host the 5th Annual Minority Pre-Law Conference: Putting the Pieces Together, Is Law School the Right Fit?  This event will be held at the UNC School of Law and is designed for prospective law students from underrepresented groups.  The program helps to empower minority students who may be interested in law school but don’t have the information necessary to get started.

Prospective law students will hear from law school deans and admissions officers about why they should attend law school and how to navigate the admissions process.  They will experience life as a law student by attending a mock law school class and interacting with current law students.  They will hear from practicing attorneys about the various careers available with a law degree and attend a career fair with representatives from several law schools in North Carolina and surrounding states.

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