Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Former Los Angeles Attorney Among Recipients of State Bar Diversity Award
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Retired Los Angeles attorney Alfred Jenkins has been selected as one of three recipients of the California State Bar’s Fifth Annual Diversity Awards, the organization said in a release late yesterday.
Jenkins, who will receive an Individual Attorney Diversity Award along with San Francisco attorney Bill Lann Lee, told the MetNews:
“I’m honored, of course. I was pleasantly surprised. There are probably dozens of other people who are more deserving of it than I, and hopefully I will inspire others to themselves engage in being one of the thousand points of light.”
His nomination demonstrates that one person can have an impact on diversity, he added.
The Diversity Awards recognize “outstanding efforts and significant contributions ensuring the full and equal opportunity of all persons for entry and advancement in California’s legal profession.” They will be presented at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Monterey Marriott Hotel, as part of the State Bar’s annual meeting.
Jenkins, 70, was admitted to the State Bar in 1977 and spent 15 years working for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office before retiring completely from the practice of law in 1993. As an attorney, he did not practice apart from the D.A.’s office and spent the bulk of his extra time—nights and weekends—offering free bar exam tutoring services to African-American law students from his Los Angeles home.
Having himself received tutoring that helped him pass the bar exam, he began tutoring African-American law students just as he was starting his law career. He has continued helping students ever since, tutoring 72 people who took the most recent bar exam.
“Basically what my program entails, other than encouragement, is letting people know that it is in fact possible for people to pass the bar exam, and that if one prepares adequately with a proper attitude and mentality one can do this,” Jenkins explained.
He said he never earned a nickel from helping students, and plans to continue helping them “forever.”
Jenkins graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in 1972 with a degree in mathematics, and received his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1976. Prior to becoming an attorney, he worked as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft.
Lee, 57, is a partner in the San Francisco office of Leif Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and formerly served as asst. attorney general for civil rights in the Clinton administration.
The Bar is recognizing Lee for leading a wide-scale effort as the chair of the Bar Assn. of San Francisco’s diversity task force, which prepared a 50-page report analyzing data on hiring and advancement for specific minority groups, including African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics. The project involved the work of 80 attorneys and led to pledges by 85 law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies to try to meet the hiring and advancement goals.
“I’m very honored to receive the award, which I understand to be an award not only to the diversity task force of the Bar Association of San Francisco, but also for the 16-year effort that BASF had made on behalf of diversifying law firms in San-Francisco,” Lee told the MetNews.
In addition to Lee and Jenkins, the State Bar will honor the California Assn. of Black Lawyers with the Diversity Award in the bar association category. The efforts for which CABL’s is being recognized include raising thousands of dollars for law students displaced by Hurricane Katrina and advocating minority judicial appointments through contacts in Sacramento.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company