B.R.J. O'Donnell writes, "This spring, nearly 40,000 students will graduate from law school in America. For many who are about to become lawyers, it’s a milestone reached with the assistance of mentors who have helped them along the way. But that milestone can be more difficult to attain when aspiring lawyers don’t see themselves reflected across the profession.
There are, or course, plenty of reasons why many black students who aspire to be lawyers don’t wind up at the firms they work for during law-school summers. But part of the reason the law profession has such a hard time attracting and retaining black Americans may have to do with dearth of black lawyers to help model the experience.
Lisa James-Beavers, who earned her law degree from Villanova in 1988, was able to provide that model for Lisa Helem, who received her J.D. from the University of Michigan in 2009. The two share a hometown, a first name, a commitment to a legal profession that is more inclusive of black women—and 23 years of mentorship. The two Lisas have built two very different careers centered around the law—one as an administrative judge for the state of New Jersey, and one as the managing editor of The National Law Journal—but their connection has only strengthened over time."