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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Successful Black Lawyers Share Lessons Learned and Provide Mentorship in New Compilation Book

Evangeline Mitchell, editor of 'Lessons From Successful African American Lawyers'

Cambridge, MA — In America, there is widespread acknowledgment of racial injustice and disparities, systemic racism, and anti-Blackness. During this unprecedented time, many are all learning more about hidden American history and the deliberate role the law has played in undermining Black freedom and progress. There is an urgent national outcry for justice as we consider ways to re-examine and re-imagine the legal system and the impact that the law has had and still has on Black lives. Now, there is heightened interest in creating transformative change – and many African Americans are exploring the possibility of becoming lawyers, and in gaining a better understanding of the role lawyers can play in the fight for the full liberation of Black people and for true equity and social justice.

Unfortunately, due to historic educational, social, and economic barriers, the vast majority of Black people in this country do not have family members, friends, or associates they can go to for advice on what it takes to become lawyers. There remains a tremendous need for credible advice from people with backgrounds similar to theirs, an understanding of and sensitivity to the Black experience in America, and who have successfully navigated the path from law school hopeful to a full-fledged lawyer. Lessons from Successful African American Lawyers: Practical Wisdom for Those on the Path to Lawyerhood (available at SuccessfulBlackLawyers.com) is a brand new resource thoughtfully compiled to address this problem.

The book was edited by Evangeline M. Mitchell, an attorney who has worked in the trenches for several years independently producing articles, books, programs, and resource websites, as well as organizing national events specifically for the purpose of empowering African American aspiring lawyers. According to Attorney Mitchell, “We all know that mentorship is critical for success – but it’s difficult to find mentors who have time or are willing to take the time to really pour into you. It’s even harder if you’re Black and among the very first in your family to have doors of educational opportunity opened to you. Growing up, I never saw, knew or met any Black lawyers – or any lawyers for that matter. Sadly, my experience is common in the Black community. This puts us at a distinct disadvantage.”

Understanding that void in mentorship because of her own difficult experience of having to navigate law school without having the benefit of advice or guidance before embarking on her journey, she contacted the numerous lawyers she has worked with or were connected to throughout the years to ask them to contribute to this book project. “I reached out to just about every lawyer I knew and many others. I sent out e-mails to hundreds and hundreds of people. Many of those who agreed to participate were in the same position of not knowing any lawyers and not having mentoring before choosing this path so they clearly understood why this project was so important, and they all selflessly took time out of their busy schedules to contribute. Through this collective compilation effort, so many in our community can now benefit tremendously through learning from those who have already been where they want to go. They explain to them how they made it and what it really takes – so they can make it too. They share the obstacles and the pitfalls to avoid, and solid practical success strategies.” It is Mitchell’s belief that many talented people with incredible potential quit too soon because they don’t get this insight and perspective. They get off the path simply because they have no encouragement or help in navigating the challenges that those traveling this road must necessarily overcome.

In this book, readers have the benefit of the wisdom of a multitude of “mentors” – 55 diverse Black lawyers from across the country – who attended law schools in different decades (from the 1970s to the 2010s), different types of law schools (from local, regional to national law schools, HBCUs to Ivy Leagues), and pursued different career paths (from solo practitioners to civil rights lawyers to government lawyers to corporate counsel to large law firm partners). They all share their personal and professional profiles, their background stories and reasons for going to law school, as well as the lessons learned from their experiences through their giving advice on everything from applying to law school, succeeding academically in law school, passing the bar exam, finding a job and advancing in one’s career, creating one’s own opportunities, navigating the additional challenges of race as a Black law student and lawyer, and much more.

According to Howard University pre-law student Brittany Goddard, “It appeals to the demographic of students who desire to go to law school but have no one to reach out to for help or resources, so this was extremely helpful. I am in love with all of this content. This has given me so much confidence moving forward now with my law school process!”

Jasmine Brown, a current third-year law student at Northeastern University School of Law shared, “I think that it added necessary and currently missing information and advice to the Black community. I gathered so many things to think about. I loved that it provided access to some of the legal giants and success stories that we talk about but rarely have the ability to take to coffee.”

What’s really special about this book is that it not only shared the profiles and lessons learned from the lived experiences of so many remarkably “successful” Black lawyers, but it revealed that what these lawyers have achieved is not all that makes them truly successful. In a book filled with a wealth of countless anecdotes and innumerable pearls of wisdom from those who have received numerous honors, awards and accolades, it is that common spirit to give back and serve others that is demonstrated through all of the lawyers who contributed. That is what Attorney Mitchell – who persevered throughout the years to see this book idea come to fruition – hopes will be the biggest takeaway. She wants those who read it to understand and take on that same spirit of “lifting as we climb” and that shared sense of social responsibility that many African Americans possess. This is the first volume in what she plans to be a series.

The Kindle e-book and paperback copies are now available on Amazon.com. For a limited time, the full-color pdf e-book will be available for free to download on the book’s website. If you are an aspiring lawyer, please visit SuccessfulBlackLawyers.com for more information and to claim your complimentary book.

For press inquiries, contact Hope’s Promise Publishing LLC at hopespromisepublishing@gmail.com or 832-649-0304

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