BAKER TRIAL LAWYERS CAUCUS FOUNDED
By Carla Aikens; Carla D. Aikens PC, Detroit
I am proud to announce the launch of the James W. Baker Trial Lawyers Caucus, a group comprised of African-American MAJ members. We are starting things off with a virtual “kick-off” event in the coming weeks. For those not familiar with James W. Baker, he was the first African-American President of MAJ from 1968-1969 who left behind a legacy of fighting for justice.
Following the events of last summer, sparked by nationwide fallout after the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I approached MAJ President Donna MacKenzie and Executive Director Steve Pontoni to discuss the prospects of starting such a caucus to help MAJ become a more all-encompassing organization that better reflects the diverse clients and communities we serve. Not surprisingly for anyone who knows them, both Donna and Steve enthusiastically supported this initiative.
For any MAJ members who are also AAJ members, this new caucus closely aligns with the goals of the AAJ Minority Caucus, including in the areas of education, membership, public service, scholarship, and social events. We will also work closely to support the initiatives of other affinity caucuses within MAJ, including the Women’s Caucus, of which I am also a member.
Our hope is that the Caucus will be able to increase recruitment and retention of African-American members of the plaintiffs’ bar of the State of Michigan and also increase dialogue about issues that disproportionately impact us and our diverse clientele. I understand that these issues can be difficult to discuss and navigate, so I have been particularly encouraged by the support from MAJ that I have received.
I am aware that there were some challenges to starting this Caucus in the past, and I am grateful to everyone who has assisted in getting us to this point, including many AAJ members and staff. I am always looking to operate as efficiently as possible in everything that I do, so I welcome any questions or comments that you may have about the Caucus and/or its initiatives.
Thank you again, and I look forward to working with the entire MAJ membership as a member of this new Caucus.