Welcome from the President
“We’re in This Together.” We’ve heard over and over the last few months. In what turned out to be the last in person MWLA event of the 2019-2020 year, we had a surprise special guest attend – Jalila Haider, Advocate, High Court, Balochistan Bar Council (Pakistan). Jalila was one of the recipients of the US Department of State’s International Women of Courage Award. Jalila and the other award recipients had the choice to go anywhere in the United States for a few days. Her choice was Mississippi.
Jalila came to Mississippi because she wanted to visit somewhere that would be most similar to her homeplace. Jalila was pleased to see so many women attorneys together socially and to discover that MWLA exists. She does not have that opportunity in Pakistan – an organization of women lawyers is not allowed there. Tying Jalia’s visit and insight, we are taking a spin on 2020’s popular theme. “At Least We Can Be Together.” Since we are in Mississippi and not Pakistan, we have that freedom.
When we are lonely, down, excited, or quarantined, no matter what, we, as Mississippi Women Attorneys, can at least be together (maybe virtually). I’m delighted to have the opportunity to serve as President this year. We are making strides to continue with the founding principles of MWLA and to incorporate our Pledge in to all aspects to best serve our membership and community. This will surely be a different and challenging year. Let’s work together to make it productive and successful. We’re hoping to have some fun and fellowship along the way.
OUR DEDICATION TO DIVERSITY
As an organization, the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association has been fortunate to have a diverse group of members and to have, and continue to have, persons of color in our leadership. While we have made great efforts in the past, it has not been enough. We want to hear from you. We want to learn. We want to do better.
At this time, it is ever so important that we focus on what we can do to better ourselves and our unique Mississippi community. We’ve been working behind the scenes to make the upcoming year a special one. Some of the things we have done and are planning to do moving forward are:
- Amplify Black and other minority voices through diversifying speaking opportunities and offering educational information on the necessity of diversity and equality;
- Ensure that the Day of Leadership 2021 serves as a platform for actual diversity training. Our plan as an organization is to provide a platform to show different perspectives and what we all can do to improve as an organization and as individuals;
- One of our core goals has always been to promote and encourage the success of our members, in part to combat stereotypes and negative messaging so too often faced by women lawyers. Moving forward, we pledge to find ways to not only celebrate the accomplishments of our members, but also our member’s families and loved ones. Our belief as an organization is that a shift in perspective equals a shift in perception. We want to highlight any special moments in families of all diversities to help change the
narrative of people of color. Look for those spotlights on our social media platforms.
- Continue our community outreach and actively work to combat racial inequality in the criminal justice system by sponsoring and volunteering during expungement clinics hosted throughout the State;
- Continue to promote literacy and serve all in the community by supporting the Mississippi Book Festival and continue our partnership with Big House Books;
- Encourage law firms and all agencies with legal divisions to review their diversity and inclusion policies and practices, as well as encourage minority representation on firm committees;
- Dedicate a specific chair role to diversity inclusion to have a finger forever on the pulse of the needs of our diverse community;
- Support our members to actively pursue reforms that will improve our legal and judicial system to one that is just and fair for all.
Most of all, we as an organization pledge to continue the dialogue that is occurring in our nation around racism and our role in fighting it. Our foot is on the gas pedal. If you have ideas, please reach out to us. While we may not have the answers, we care and want to be a part of the solution in the fight against injustice for all Mississippians.