New Book Club Will Focus on Diversity and Inclusion Topics

February 17, 2021   |   Stewart Poisson

Happy Black History Month to all of you. I hope that everyone is doing well and steering clear of COVID-19 as we see some local courts allowing jury trials to move forward.

In 2020, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee presented many meaningful and powerful discussions through member webinars and CLEs. This year we are pleased to offer NCAJ members another avenue to further these conversations with a new book club focused on Diversity and Inclusion topics. This ongoing, quarterly program is designed to open discussion within the organization and to further Diversity and Inclusion in our practices and at NCAJ.

The first book we will read is “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein. This book was designated as one of 10 finalists on the National Book Awards list for the best nonfiction book of 2017. Discussion of the book will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, 2021 via Zoom. Click here to register. Join your peers as we delve into our first book of this series and begin an intentional focus to help us discuss this important topic.

Those interested in hearing Rothstein speak before the book club discussion can attend a lecture presented by Legal Aid of North Carolina and the Durham Eviction Diversion Program on March 18. Find details here. The Duke Gothic Bookstore is selling copies of the book at a 25% discount with free shipping. Email or call 919-684-3986 to order.

And continuing our strong member programming, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee is offering a free CLE that qualifies for an hour of mental health/substance abuse CLE credit: Recognizing and Responding to Lawyers with Mental Illness, on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Click here to register.

Committee Update

I am the fourth Diversity & Inclusion Officer to serve the organization since the position was created as a part of the Diversity Plan adopted by the NCAJ Board of Governors in 2017. So far this fiscal year, NCAJ has offered free monthly Diversity & Inclusion programming to NCAJ members. This programming seeks to highlight topics designed to promote diversity and inclusion within the organization and within the practice of law. Programs since June 2021 have been:

  • Improving The Administration Of Justice By Eliminating Racial Inequality In The Criminal Justice System:  A Joint Presentation with the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, NC CRED, and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of NCAJ.
  • Race in the Courtroom:  How to Confront Peremptory Strikes that Appear to Be Based on Race
  • Trailblazers: A View from the Bench (featuring three Black female district court judges from across the state)
  • Cultural Changes for Justice
  • How Civil Practitioners Can Help Fight Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System
  • Trial by Fire: A Conversation with New Lawyers
  • Introduction to the Disability Rights Movement
  • Immigration Consequences of Criminal Offenses on DACA Eligibility

We held the Second Annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference on Oct. 2. The conference was virtual and was attended by close to 75 people. The speakers were excellent, and topics included Race & The Law, Implicit Bias and Workplace Diversity & Inclusivity. Click here to view a prior blog post on the conference.

Moving forward, my focus for the remainder of the fiscal year as Diversity & Inclusion Officer will be to firm up the job description for my position and to recommend ways for NCAJ to truly weave a focus on Diversity & Inclusion into the fabric of who we are and what we do. I look forward to seeing many of you at book club on April 14!