The Massachusetts Bar Association and the American Bar Association President's Advisory Council on Diversity jointly sponsored an event at Hampshire College on April 20 to explore why college-age students of color do not choose the legal profession more often when making life career choices. The event was hosted by Greg Prince, president of Hampshire College and was held at the Red Barn.
Attending on behalf of the ABA were Kay Hodge, currently chair of the diversity council and former president of the MBA; current MBA President Carol DiMento; Janet Jackson, director of Diversity for the ABA; and MBA Executive Director Abigail Shaine.
Special guest speaker was Oliver Mitchell, assistant general counsel for Ford Motor Company. Discussion was facilitated by practitioners and judges from around the state including Springfield attorney Tiffani D. Hurst of the firm Hurst and Fogarty.
Students of color from Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College, Smith College, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst attended the program.
The dialogue centered on learning the students' perception of the legal profession and understanding how it could be shaped more positively.
The students related that the media had a central role in shaping their perception of the legal profession. They also mentioned that they did not have much occasion to come into contact with lawyers growing up. At the end of the day, they concluded that having the chance to have more personal exchanges with lawyers might cause more of them to consider law as a career option.
The ABA and MBA expect to follow this event with a larger all-day event at Hampshire College in October.