Diversity Conference

Luis A. Perez, Chair

Officers for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year:

  • Luis  A. Perez, Chair
  • Chidi James, Chair-Elect
  • Carole H. Capsalis, Immediate Past Chair
  • Sheila Costin, Treasurer
  • David D. Masterman, Secretary

Number of members of the Diversity Conference:  809

Special Activities/Programs/Achievements during the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year:
  1. 2018 Law School Mentor/Mentee Initiative – VSB Annual Meeting

For the fifth year, the Diversity Conference invited law students from each Virginia law school to attend the 2018 VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.  Under this Initiative, Deans of each of the respective law schools in Virginia select two of their outstanding students whom they feel reflect their schools’ respective diversity goals and excellence in studies. Each of the law students were paired with at least one practicing attorney from the Diversity Conference who served as mentor to the student at the Annual Meeting. The students were invited to participate in all Annual Meeting events.  The Law Student Mentees attended many of the showcase CLE sessions, the presentation of the Dunnaville Diversity Achievement Award, other plenary programming, sports activities, law school alumni breakfasts and various networking opportunities with their mentors.  This year, the students and their mentors were presented to the Virginia State Bar membership at the Diversity Conference opening reception on Thursday afternoon where they were welcomed by the VSB President, Len Heath, the Incoming President, Marni E. Byrum and had the opportunity to meet with many members of the Bench and Bar. Sixteen dynamic law students attended the Annual Meeting under this initiative this year and they were enthusiastically welcomed by members of the Bench and Bar in attendance at each of events in which they participated.

  1. Diversity Conference First Annual Forum on Diversity in the Legal Profession

The Diversity Conference held its First Annual Forum on Diversity in the Legal Profession on November 9, 2018, at the University of Richmond School Of Law. It was a great program where we had a presentation from the Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo C. Powell on the impact of diversity in the administration of justice in Virginia; a presentation on implicit bias and how it affects our day to day decision-making process and the practice of law, presented by TV celebrities Judges Dana and Keith Cutler; and a presentation on best business practices and how diversity and inclusion can be a business asset, presented by a panel of government, business and law firm employers. The program was well attended and the reviews very positive.  We are already looking forward to our second forum to be held on September 20, 2019 at the William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia.

  1. Showcase CLE  Immigration: Contradictory or Complementary to the Rule of Law?”

On Friday morning, June 14, 2019 at the annual meeting the Diversity Conference presented a showcase CLE on the topic Immigration: Contradictory or Complementary to the Rule of Law?”This program explored certain hot topic issues in immigration law today from a balanced and politically neutral point of view. The speakers covered the intersections between immigration law, implementation of those laws, and the moral basis of decisions relating to the enforcement of those laws. A panel of experts in the field of immigration law which included Jacob Tinger, adjunct professor at the University of Richmond School of Law and managing partner at the law firm of Tingen and Williams; Lisa Johnson-Firth, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and principal at the Immigrants First Law Firm; George Fishman, Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security; and Davinson M. Douglas, Dean, William & Mary at Law School, engaged in thediscussion of issues that have been part of the daily news cycle for months, such as DACA, border detention policies (including family separation), refugees, and tensions between federal and state or local law, such as “sanctuary cities”, and whether the interpretation, implementation and enforcement of immigration regulations and policies relevant to these topics are contradictory or complementary to the rule of law. The event took place at one of the ballrooms at the Hilton Ocean Front and was well attended.   

  1. Diversity Conference Welcome Reception

On Thursday, June 13, 2019 the Diversity Conference hosted for the first time a welcome reception at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting open to all meeting attendees. The event was a big success and the attendance exceeded all expectation. This was a great opportunity for the law students to meet and socialize with members of the bar, VSB council members, Judges and bar leaders and for the attendees to learn more about the Diversity Conference mission and programs. It was a family friendly event, with popcorn, hot dogs and nuggets for the children as well as other adult favorites.

  1. 2019 Clarence M. Dunnaville, Jr. Achievement Award – presented at the VSB Annual Meeting

The Diversity Conference presented the Clarence M. Dunnaville, Jr. Award at the 2019VSB Annual Meeting on Friday, June 14, 2019 to Michael Hu Young immediately following the conclusions of the Immigration: Contradictory or Complementary to the Rule of Law CLE at the Hilton Ocean Front. This award honors a member of the Virginia State Bar for setting an example that fellow members can emulate to meet the Conference’s goal of fostering, encouraging and facilitating diversity and inclusion in the Bar, the judiciary and the legal profession.    

  1. 2019 Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute

The Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute (HTI), took place the week of on July 7 -12, 2019 at the University of Richmond. A record number student attended from all area of the Commonwealth. Named for legendary civil rights attorneys Oliver Hill and Samuel Tucker, HTI reaches future lawyers at an early age (high school) to provide them with exposure and opportunity to explore the legal profession, at no cost to the participants.  Students in this year’s HTI participated in various activities to include, among other things, a networking reception, sessions on closing and opening statements, and evidence, a mock trial, and an etiquette dinner. As in past years, the continued success of HTI was made possible with a grant from the Virginia Law Foundation and, for the second year as a funded Conference, from the budget of the Diversity Conference. The Young Lawyers Conference co-sponsored the Institute and members of the Diversity Conference and the Young Lawyers Conference are serving in several volunteer capacities for the week long program.  The Diversity Conference thanks and appreciate the tremendous efforts of HTI co-directors Wesley Allen and Courtney Frazier. 

  1. Rule of Law Day/Students’ Day at the Capitol Programs

The Diversity Conference co-sponsored the Rule of Law/Student Day at the Capitol. This year the program was split into two days on April 23 and April 24, 2019. The Diversity Conference provided sponsorship and volunteer participants for the Law Program.  Diversity Conference board members Latoya Asia, Alicia Roberts served on the planning committee for this year’s Program.  This program included collaboration with the Virginia Law Foundation, Virginia Bar Association, VSB YLC, Rule of Law Project, and the academic community in the Richmond Public School area. Using a partnership with teachers, lawyers, judges, and students, the program seeks to provide students with an enriching and interactive experience about the importance of the rule of law in their daily lives and helps students better understand the need to preserve and protect the rule of law as the foundation for the rights and freedoms we enjoy in the United States.

  1. Diversity Conference First Annual Forum on Diversity in the Legal Profession

The Diversity Conference held its First Annual Forum on Diversity in the Legal Profession on November 9, 2018, at the University of Richmond School Of Law. It was a great program where we had a presentation from the Virginia Supreme Court Justice Cleo C. Powell on the impact of diversity in the administration of justice in Virginia; a presentation on implicit bias and how it affects our day to day decision-making process and the practice of law, presented by TV celebrities Judges Dana and Keith Cutler; and a presentation on best business practices and how diversity and inclusion can be a business asset, presented by a panel of government, business and law firm employers. The program was well attended and the reviews very positive.  We are already looking forward to our second forum to be held on September 20, 2019 at the William & Mary Law School.

H.  Virginia State Bar Special Committee on Access to Legal Services Projects

The Diversity Conference did partner with VSB Access to Legal Services Committee on some pro bono initiatives. Through our member volunteers we assisted in the translation of the Free and Low Cost Legal Resources in Virginiaguide into Spanish. Another project will involve increasing language access on the committee’s Virginia freeLegalAnswers.org website.  There is currently no way for non English speaking clients to interface with bilingual attorneys. The Conference will engage its bilingual members to work directly with Access director Crista Gantz on the freelegalanswers.org language access initiative.    

I. Publicity 

The Diversity Conference is present on social media on Twitter and Facebook: http://twitter.com/vsbdcand https://www.facebook.com/dcvsb/.  Additionally, it has completed its second year publishing its Invictus newsletter, first published in June 2017, available on the VSB’s Diversity Conference website. Board member Chris Fortier chairs the publicity matters.  

J.  Virginia Lawyer Magazine August 2018 issue.

The Diversity Conference was featured in the August 2018 issue of the Virginia Lawyer magazine.  

Diversity Conference Board of Governors FY 2019-2020

The Diversity Conference Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the following slate of nominated candidates to serve as officers for the 2019-2020 year. These candidates were approved by unanimous vote at the Diversity Conference’s Annual Meeting and luncheon held at the VSB Annual Meeting on Friday, June 14, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

  • Chair, Chidi James
  • Chair-Elect, Sheila Costin
  • Treasurer, Alicia Roberts
  • Secretary, David D. Masterman
Updated: Jul 12, 2019