The Legal Aid Society Receives City Bar's Diversity Champion Award; Joint Efforts by Legal Aid Managers and Staff Are Recognized; Attorneys of Color Caucus at Legal Aid Begins Pilot Mentoring Project for Law Student Interns in the Society's Civil, Criminal and Juvenile Rights Programs in Brooklyn
FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012

Earlier this month, the City Bar Association recognized The Legal Aid Society's enhanced efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce by conferring the City Bar's "Diversity Champion" designation this year.  Accepting the award, Steven Banks, the Society's Attorney-in-Chief, said that this designation distinguishes the joint efforts of the Society's management and staff from those at other legal services organizations and will thereby help the Society to continue to make progress in recruiting, hiring and retaining diverse law students.  The award was presented by the Honorable Rolando T. Acosta, Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, who is a former Legal Aid staff attorney and manager and whose family was represented by the Society's Civil Practice in the Bronx when he was a young child. 

In recognition of the joint efforts of the Legal Aid management team, the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, the Attorneys of Color Caucus at Legal Aid (ACLA), and 1199 SEIU, the City Bar's designation is based on a number of the recent diversity initiatives at The Legal Aid Society, including revamped recruitment initiatives by managers and staff, innovative investigator and law student internship programs, "Awareness Month" events, and a new pilot mentoring program.  

Working with the Society's managers in Brooklyn, ACLA is leading the new pilot mentoring project for law student interns of color.  The goal of this project is to enhance our recruitment of diverse law student interns and staff attorneys.  ACLA pairs law students with mentors who are staff attorneys of color, who can provide participating student interns with support during their internships at Legal Aid and in the recruitment process.   

The City Bar's Diversity Champion award reflects the progress that has been made which is exemplified in the fact that two of the three leaders of the Society's Practices are persons of color and two are women, 40% of the Criminal Defense and Juvenile Rights borough heads are persons of color, diverse applicants made up half of the early offers for the 2012 Criminal Defense staff attorney class, and half of those hired for the 2011 Criminal Defense class consisted of diverse law graduates and attorneys.  

Banks observed that the continued joint efforts of managers and staff are necessary so that the Society can continue to make the progress that is needed to ensure a diverse workforce and thereby the Society can continue to be a leader in this area in the legal services community.