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March 1, 2011
Local bars apply for diversity grants

A new Bar grant program to encourage local voluntary bars to have diversity programs has received 30 applications.

Board of Governors members Arnell Bryant-Willis and Dori Foster-Morales, co-chairs of the Special Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, reported at the board’s January meeting that the grant requests totaled $56,000. The Bar has budgeted $50,000 this year for grants to local bars for diversity-related programs.

Foster-Morales told the board that the committee would carefully evaluate the requests and hoped to be able to grant the entire $50,000.

Passing out the money is only the first step, she added. “We want the committee and the Bar to get out and go to the programs,” Foster-Morales said. “We want feedback. What was the program like? Was it effective?”

She added the committee hopes that at least one of its members and one board member can be at each funded local bar event.

At its February meeting, the committee reviewed the grant requests and approved most of them. For a few, the committee contacted the local bar sponsors for additional information. The committee now expects to spend the full $50,000 appropriation.

Among the programs tentatively approved:

• The Tampa Bay and Central Florida Bankruptcy Bar Associations will provide transportation for minority law students at FAMU’s College of Law to attend a panel discussion on insolvency law during the 2011 National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges 85th Annual Conference to be held in Florida.

• The Clearwater Bar Association is holding a two-hour CLE-diversity symposium following its monthly luncheon meeting. The seminar features the Pinellas County Human Rights director as moderator and panel/audience discussions on diversity and inclusion. With the grant funds, CBA members and judges will be able to attend the symposium free of charge.

• The Third Judicial Circuit Bar Association, its Young Lawyers Section, the Josiah T. Walls Bar Association, and the Third Circuit Association of Women Lawyers will co-sponsor the seven-county, North Florida area’s first diversity initiative, which will include a CLE with a panel discussion to increase knowledge and awareness of diversity and cultural competency.

• The Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association’s Townhall Meeting during Black Caucus Week in Tallahassee will highlight the importance of a diverse judiciary and will explore ways to increase the numbers of minorities on the county, circuit, and federal benches.

• The Florida Muslim Bar Association will provide a continuing education seminar for judges in the 15th, 17th, and 11th circuits on the unique cultural and religious practices of Muslim lawyers and litigants with examples of actual problems attorneys and American Muslims have encountered in the court system.

[Revised: 08-13-2014]