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HCBA Recognizes Commitment to Diversity
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NEWS RELEASE:  May 28, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS: The Hennepin County Bar Association’s (HCBA) Diversity Committee recognized two individuals (a lawyer and a nonlawyer) and a law firm for their outstanding commitment to diversity in the profession at the HCBA annual meeting on May 20.  Awardees were Nekima Levy-Pounds, with the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and Lisanne T. Weisz, d
irector of legal recruiting & professional development at the Lindquist & Vennum firm, who received awards recognizing a lawyer and a nonlawyer respectively.  The Minneapolis law firm of Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi received the law firm award. Recipients were all recognized at the HCBA annual meeting on May 20.

Nekima Levy-Pounds’ outstanding commitment toward increasing diversity in the legal profession is being recognized with this year’s award for an individual attorney. As professor and founding director of the Community Justice Project, the University of St. Thomas School of Law’s award-winning civil rights clinic, Levy-Pounds fosters and inspires up-and-coming lawyers to improve the lives of the members of under-served communities and youth in the Twin Cities. Challenging laws and policies that hold back communities of color, she has become a well-known leader in the local civil rights movement.

She is co-chair of Everybody In, chair of the Minnesota Advisory Commission to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, member of the board of directors for Catholic Charities of Minnesota, member of the Senate File 2725 Work Group, past adviser to Senator Al Franken, member of the FBI Civil Rights Advisory Group, and contributing writer to MinnPost, the Star Tribune and Twin Cities Daily Planet.


Lisanne T. Weisz
, director of legal recruiting and professional development with Lindquist & Vennum, received the association’s first-ever diversity award for a nonattorney. Weisz was instrumental in initiating Lindquist & Vennum’s membership in Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, where she volunteers for a number of the organization’s events throughout the year. She has continually placed an emphasis on diversity in all aspects of the firm’s endeavors.

In particular, Weisz was recognized for her outstanding leadership role in the Minnesota Minority Clerkship Program. She has participated in every aspect of the program that provides summer clerkships for first year minority law students – from conducting screening interviews with first-year law students, working with the Selection Committee to hire students for the program, and by hosting the interviews at Lindquist & Vennum.

As an employer, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi has demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity through a variety of initiatives. The firm has been extremely supportive of its employees engaging in community efforts to advance diversity. Many of the flagship legal diversity pipeline programs in the Twin Cities have been led by the efforts of Robins’ attorneys. The bar association’s Minnesota Minority Clerkship program was created by then Robins’ attorney (now judge), Marta Chou, and is now led by Robins attorney and program alum, Christine Yun Sauer. Robins also worked with Chou to develop Class Action, a legal education program for Minneapolis Public School students. In addition, Robins has hosted high school interns through the Achieve Minneapolis STEP-UP program since 2004.

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The mission of the HCBA is to serve the needs of a diverse membership by advancing collegiality, professionalism, ethical conduct, and competence in the legal profession.  The association strives to ensure the fairness and accessibility of the legal system by promoting public understanding and confidence in our system of justice and by working along with the courts to improve the administration of justice.  The largest of Minnesota's 21 county bar associations, the HCBA has over 8,000 legal professionals.  

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