September is here and the 2021-2022 bar year is officially underway. This year’s theme is “Embracing a Legacy of Black Legal Excellence.” The WBA has a rich history, a wealth of tradition and a distinguished legacy, which I hope to continue. To do this, we must leverage the tremendous talent and significant resources of our members—as well as those available to us here in the nation’s capital. This will position us to build capacity, create member value, and pursue mission-focused programming to preserve the WBA’s history and embrace its legacy. In my view, the WBA’s legendary past should serve as the guide for charting its illustrious future.
Consistent with the overall theme for this year, we will focus attention this month on the excellence of our amazing members. Each week we will spotlight WBA members who have demonstrated excellence in his or her practice, through leadership in the legal community, as well as service to the WBA. If you would like to nominate a member for one of these “Profiles in Excellence,” please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to provide the member’s name and a brief explanation of why he or she should be featured.
This month, we will also launch a podcast called “The Legacy Series.” Our first episode will focus on the original members of the WBA—our founders: Ulysses Simpson Games, George E.C. Hayes, Charles Hamilton Houston, Isaiah Lisemby, Louis Rothschild Mehlinger, Charles E. Robinson, and J. Franklin Wilson. We will also highlight women who were early and dedicated WBA members, including Ollie May Cooper and Isadora Augusta Jackson Letcher.
I encourage all WBA members to demonstrate the spirit of excellence established by our founders by volunteering for one or both of the community service and public outreach activities planned for this month. On Friday, September 17, we will teach Constitution Day lessons on voting rights to DC area high-school students. And on Saturday, September 18, we will staff the STAY DC pro bono clinic to help Ward 7 DC residents navigate the current eviction crisis. Registration links for both of these opportunities to serve are located below.
Considering the membership-focused theme for this month, we are planning to host several events intended to bring members together and strengthen our membership base. The first will be a Membership Meet-Up on Saturday, September 11 at PJ’s Coffee in Bowie, Maryland. Come out to enjoy afternoon coffee and beignets with the WBA from 2-4 pm. I have been informed by the National Bar Association’s Regional Director that the annual “Chillin’ and Grillin’” cookout and membership drive is scheduled to return this year on Saturday, September 25. We will also hold a virtual WBA open house for lawyers working in the federal government with the goal of increasing our ranks with new and returning members from this important segment of the DC legal community. Recognizing the importance of our Law Students Division, WBA leaders are also planning to visit with the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at each law school in the District to encourage the next generation of lawyers to join the Division and explore the benefits of WBA membership.
Finally, we are in the process of aligning membership dues payments with the bar year calendar, which runs from September to June. Please be on the lookout next week for details about how to officially transfer to the WBA’s new membership management system and, if applicable, renew or initiate your membership in the WBA. Also stay tuned for the unveiling of our new, rebranded website. We are also pleased to release our 2021-2022 Sponsorship Brochure, which not only details all the opportunities available for law firms, corporate law departments, vendors, and individual donors to support the WBA financially, but also explains the value proposition for doing so. Please take a moment to view the Brochure at the link provided below, and consider how you can assist in our efforts.
In closing, I wish everyone a very happy and safe Labor Day weekend. I look forward to a successful bar year in which we continue to embrace the WBA’s legacy of Black legal excellence.
Onward and upward,
Kendra Perkins Norwood
Washington Bar Association
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