Minneapolis (6-03-03): -- The Hennepin County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee has recognized the law firm of Blackwell Igbanugo P.A. with the 2003 Diversity Award. Of the 20-partner firm, Jerry Blackwell notes, "We’re half male and half female, half white and half people of color." And two of the attorneys are also over the age of 65.
The Diversity Award, presented at the HCBA’s annual meeting, is given to a legal employer who displays an outstanding commitment to diversity in the legal profession. In making the award, the committee also noted that Blackwell Igbanugo P.A. is the second largest black-owned law firm in the country.
While the firm believes that, in this age, diversity is "good business," the firm has not focused on its minority status as the principal facet of its make-up. Instead, Blackwell and Herbert Igbanugo emphasize the quality of its team, attorneys of color and white. They point to experienced attorneys, each of whom is affirmed in his or her efforts, and all with a record of quality work and significant verdicts.
Still, the "diversity issue" is an important one, and it "makes sense" to offer a diverse workforce. The firm regularly serves as outside counsel to large corporations. The in-house counsel they work with are often women or minorities who would hesitate to work with law firms that did not take diversity seriously.
Blackwell has long been involved with diversity issues in the legal community, helping to establish the Twin Cities Committee on Minority Lawyers in Large Law Firms as well as the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.
The mission of the Hennepin County Bar Association 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 serves a membership of 8000 legal professionals.