Commission on Racial Equity in the Law
New Jersey State Bar Association President Kimberly A. Yonta created the NJSBA Commission on Racial Equity in the Law in the summer of 2020. The idea was to gather a panel of leaders from the profession who would take an incisive study of the legal system to identify methods of addressing root causes of inequities in the profession and in the law.
“The murder of George Floyd, the disparate impact of COVID-19 and numerous other events have put the nation’s structural inequities into sharp focus,” Yonta said at the time. “This is an inflection point after centuries of oppression and inequality. To meet the urgent needs of this moment, the NJSBA must champion specific strategies that break down the barriers of systemic bias and discrimination.”
The Commission’s work was to identify those strategies and look specifically at ongoing anti-Black racism in the legal system and in the practice of law. That work, under the leadership of Commission Co-Chairs Carolyn V. Chang and G. Glennon Troublefield, continued through Yonta’s term as well as the term of 2021-2022 President Domenick Carmagnola. In April of 2022, the Commission delivered a comprehensive report to the Board of Trustees, offering recommendations on addressing inequities within and outside of the justice system.
“Legal issues of ongoing anti-Black racism in New Jersey’s legal system and in certain segments of the practice of law continue to reveal themselves,” the report states. “Systemic racism exists and eradicating it from our justice system is crucial to ensuring public confidence in the system to which we, as lawyers, have pledged our professional lives. The NJSBA must be a leading and consistent voice in helping to achieve these goals.”
A critical recommendation in the report was that the Board convert the Commission into a Special Committee on Racial Equity in the Law. The special committee’s mission is to continue to examine the impact of racial inequalities and anti-Black sentiment in the practice of law and administration of justice and make suggestions to the NJSBA Board of Trustees on ways to mitigate those inequities.
Feedback on the report can be sent to Paula Saha, Senior Managing Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Member Engagement at [email protected]
A list of educational resources– readings, films and more – compiled by COREL’s education committee for those who are interested in learning more about the intersection of racial equity and the law.
Special Committee on Racial Equity in the Law
Click here to see a list of current members and leadership of the NJSBA Special Committee on Racial Equity in the Law
NJSBA creates Commission on Racial Equity in the Law July 8, 2020