African Americans currently make up only 5% of all lawyers in the United States. There remains a need for greater representation of Black lawyers in American society in all areas of legal practice, as well as in other areas where legal training is important including politics, non-profit leadership, public policy, and business. Black communities are underserved when it comes to access to legal representation. Although this fact remains constant, there are many Black people interested in pursuing law school. However, there are numerous variables that play a role in the low numbers of African Americans getting into law school, as well as those getting through, going on to become lawyers, and achieving “success” beyond earning the law degree.
“One major barrier is the lack of mentorship. A person can only get so far simply based on being smart and working hard. People need people and relationships with people who care and are willing to share wisdom to help them get to the next level,” according to Evangeline M. Mitchell, an attorney who has been devoted to leading efforts to help aspiring Black lawyers for nearly two decades. She had the idea for and edited the compilation advice book Lessons from Successful African American Lawyers: Practical Wisdom for Those on the Path to Lawyerhood, which she admits doesn’t solve the complicated problem. However, she believes that it does address the issue and contributes to helping this difficult issue by providing what she calls “mentorship in a book.”
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 hundreds of lawyers she has worked with or was connected to throughout the years to ask them to contribute to this book project.
According to Attorney Mitchell, “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. The featured lawyers explain to the readers 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 provide solid practical success strategies.”
It is Mitchell’s belief that many talented people with law school aspirations with incredible potential abandon their goals and dreams prematurely because they lack confidence and aren’t sure which way to turn due to being in uncharted territory. They get off the path simply because they lack help in navigating the challenges that those traveling this road must necessarily overcome. This book gives them the type of insight and perspective that can help them persist and move forward.
In this book, readers have the benefit of the wisdom of “mentors” – 55 diverse Black lawyers from across the country – who attended law schools in different decades (from the 1970s to the 2010s), graduated from 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. They give 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 achieving success.
This book is only the first volume in an ongoing series that Attorney Mitchell intends to continue for years to come. For a limited time, in honor and celebration of Black History Month, the full-color pdf e-book will be available for free to download by request. If you are an aspiring lawyer and would like more information about this groundbreaking mentorship book, please visit www.successfulblacklawyers.com and submit a request for your complimentary e-copy. Kindle and paperback copies of the book are also available now on Amazon.com.
Hope’s Promise Publishing LLC