The Bar Foundation Board of Directors announces the awarding of a grant to Mountain State Justice for a newly designed internship for minority low income students who are interested in becoming lawyers. In the photo above, Bren Pomponio, Mountain State Justice Litigation Director, receives a special donation from the Jackson Kelly law firm presented by Ellen Cappellanti, the firm’s Managing Member and the Bar Foundation’s Immediate Past President. As stated in the grant application, “Mountain State Justice seeks funding to support pipeline recruitment and support for the next legal leaders of color in West Virginia. While many of the clients we seek to serve are Black and other people of color, we recognize the substantial racial disparity in the legal field and especially within our own walls. This lack of representation can only be remedied with true commitment in the legal community to supporting young people as they explore their options as early as high school, with equitable opportunities that provide the same financial support as other options that they might have.” “Mountain State Justice is engaging with community leaders and organizations including the local and state NAACP chapters to facilitate paid internship opportunities for younger Black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) at MSJ. The internships will be focused on outreach and recruitment at the high school and undergraduate collegiate level in order to help spark interest in law and social justice work at a younger age for communities that statistically lack exposure to the field.” To support this unique opportunity, the Bar Foundation grant was awarded in December, 2020, in the amount of $5,500, to pay for one internship with the challenge for Mountain State Justice to pursue funding in the amount of $5,500 to pay for a second internship for 2021. Ellen Cappellanti, on behalf of the Jackson Kelly law firm, made a commitment for a donation of $1,000 to reach that $5,500 goal for the second internship. Additionally, a second Bar Foundation $5,500 grant will be awarded for a similar internship in the 2021-22 academic year beginning in July, 2021, in order for the internship program to be ongoing. The Bar Foundation Board of Directors urges lawyers and law offices to consider making donations to Mountain State Justice to support this innovative initiative to increase the involvement of BIPOC students as future leaders in the legal profession and the justice system. Thanks to You for your interest in this worthwhile effort!
BLACK HISTORY MONTH February is Black History Month. As stated on the history.com website—“Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.” (Incidentally, Nelson R. Bickley, Jr., retired Charleston attorney and a longtime Bar Foundation Fellow, is a direct descendent of Carter G. Woodson. The Bar Foundation has maintained a commitment to diversity and inclusion, especially relating to African Americans, since its inception in 1988. There have been three African Americans who have served as Bar Foundation President—Cheryl Henderson (Huntington), Joe Long (Bluefield) and Ken Gray (Morgantown) and every year, the Board of Directors has included at least one African American member. In addition, almost every class of Bar Foundation Fellows has had representation from African American judges and lawyers, an African American (Ken Gray) has been selected as the Lunch and Laughs With Legends honoree and each session of the Lawyer Leadership Institute has included an African American judge (U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger) or lawyer (Elliot Hicks-Charleston) making a presentation to the younger lawyer future leaders who are in attendance. The Bar Foundation Board of Directors has made grants to programs benefitting the African American community and will continue its long standing commitment to diversity and inclusion in meeting its mission of improving the administration of justice.
PRESIDENT’S DAY HOLIDAY Today, February 15, our nation celebrates the President’s Day holiday. Originally designated as a day to honor George Washington, the first United State President, it has become recognized as the day to celebrate all Presidents. Enjoy the President’s Day holiday!