“The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation..”
Celebrating our Past, Building Bridges to our Future
I am honored and excited to serve as the 2023 President of the Gate City Bar Association. I would like to thank all of our members, sponsors and partners that have supported Gate City throughout the years. We look forward to your continued support. If you are new to Gate City, we invite you to learn more about us, to become a member and to support our programs.
This year, we celebrate Gate City’s 75th anniversary. Our ten visionary founders created the Gate City Bar Association in 1948, during a time when Black attorneys were excluded from participating in the segregated bar associations that existed throughout Georgia. This year’s theme is “Celebrating our Past, Building Bridges to our Future.” The 75th anniversary gives us an opportunity to honor our founders and the path that they paved for us, and to celebrate the rich history and legacy of our organization. On February 22, 2023, we kicked off our celebration by highlighting Gate City’s unique history during our annual Black History Month Program and Past President’s Reception. We will continue that celebration with additional programs throughout the year.
We intend to fulfill the second prong of our theme, “Building Bridges to our Future,” by continuing our commitment to addressing the lack of diversity in the law student pipeline. According to the American Bar Association’s “Profile of the Legal Profession 2022,” the number of Black lawyers in the profession declined over the past ten years. Black lawyers were 4.7% of the of the profession in 2012 and just 4.5% of the profession in 2022. Perhaps even more disturbing is that, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, Black male undergraduate enrollment declined almost 15% between 2019 and 2021.
Gate City will continue to do its part to address these issues through our flagship pipeline programs as well as new initiatives. Our annual Youth in the Law Summit, co-hosted with Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and Fulton County Juvenile Court and now in its 16th year, is designed to expose minority middle school and high school students to laws that have a direct impact on their lives, to spark their interests in pursuing legal careers and to encourage them to become educated and informed citizens. Our annual Justice Benham Law Camp is a three-week summer program designed to expose minority high school students to the field of law. We are also partnering with students and other organizations to carry out new initiates aimed at encouraging elementary through high school students to attend college.
In addition to the programming aimed at carrying out our theme, Gate City will continue to serve our communities through programs such as our annual Community Law Clinic, our Young Lawyers Division’s community service initiatives and our bi-annual participation in AVLF’s pro bono Saturday Lawyers Program. Our commitment to our members’ professional development will also continue with our CLE programs, networking opportunities and leadership development academy, L.E.A.D. We will continue to develop and support Black law students through programs such as our annual Black Law Students Retreat and Summer Associate Program.
As you can see, we have much work to do. We encourage you join or renew your memberships and remain engaged during Gate City’s 75th anniversary year—a year of celebration and service.
In Service to Gate City,
Kevin Coleman, Jr.