ABA honors Tiered Community Mentoring Program for diversity

Issue September 2011

The American Bar Association honored the Massachusetts Bar Association's Tiered Community Mentoring Program with the 2011 ABA Partnership Award at an Aug. 5 awards luncheon in Toronto. The program was selected because of its commitment to diversity.

"The MBA is thrilled to be selected for such a prestigious honor that recognizes this unique program," MBA Past President Denise Squillante said. "Tiered Community Mentoring aims to build a more diverse legal profession by empowering young people to consider careers in the law."

The program -- a collaboration among the MBA, Suffolk University Law School, Boston University Law School, Roxbury Community College, UMASS Boston and New Mission High School -- aims to reach urban high school students by building a diverse mentoring network. The program matches tiered groups, comprising a high school student, an undergraduate student, a law student and an attorney.

The program began in October 2009 and was the brainchild of Norfolk and Family Court First Justice Angela M. Ordoñez, who said the innovative mentoring structure creates opportunities that would not otherwise exist.

"Many students write themselves out of a career in law because they have never met a lawyer," Ordoñez said. "This program not only acquaints students with lawyers, but it provides mentor relationships that open up the doors of possibility. Once these students learn the details of careers in the law, it becomes an attainable goal."

The ABA Partnership Awards Program salutes bar association projects that seek to increase the participation and advancement of underrepresented constituents, including attorneys who are women, ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or disabled -- and to attract students from these groups to the legal profession.

The MBA is one of three award honorees. The other recipients are the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and the Mecklenburg County Bar Association.