The nation’s oldest Black lawyers and judges association will host its 86th annual convention in Baltimore later this month.

The D.C.-based National Bar Association (NBA) will draw an estimated 1,200 Black lawyers, judges, educators and law students to Baltimore for the convention, which will be held at Hilton Baltimore in downtown July 31 through Aug. 4.

“It is significant because Baltimore is the birthplace of the first African-American magistrate on the Supreme Court. It is so significant that this is the birthplace of Thurgood Marshall,” said Sharon Y. Christmas-DeBerry, NBA regional director for Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia. “The theme of this convention is ‘Lifting as We Climb—Ensuring Justice and Equality’ and that is what he was all about, so it’s very fitting.”

The conference will include a joint town hall meeting with the American Bar Association on how the legal system can combat foreclosures and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. NBA will also continue its signature mock trial competitions and awards ceremony for the nation’s top “40 Lawyers Under 40.”

Participants will choose from dozens of seminars, roundtable discussions and panel presentations addressing various legal matters surrounding social media, globalization, project management and other issues. Speakers include high-ranking members of legal teams for TV One, Toyota, Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson and BET.

Most events are for registered participants, but several luncheons, an art exhibit hall and golf and tennis tournaments are open to the public.

Founded in 1925, the association has provided mentorship, legal education, networking opportunities and youth-targeted programs to attract more Blacks and minorities into the legal field, especially through its Crump Law Camp that introduces high school students to the judicial system.

The NBA and its members played significant roles in landmark social justice cases including Brown v. Board of Education and the Little Rock Nine school discrimination case. Internationally, the group worked to transform South Africa’s legal system following the end of apartheid.

Granville Templeton III, the immediate past-president for the NBA Baltimore affiliate, Monumental City Bar Association, said local members are “really excited” about the convention.

“A lot of participants in NBA like coming here because they had such fun last time,” Templeton said. The convention last came to Baltimore in 1995. “The planning committee is working hard to make this convention special,” Templeton added.

The chapter is finalizing plans for a public fundraising event that they will host during the convention.

For more information, click here to read the conference brochure

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO