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, director 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.
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.