Since its inception in 1987, the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. (BWLA) has worked to foster civility, community and compassion within the legal profession. We do this through various mentoring, scholarship and community outreach initiatives. Although our efforts are generally focused in Chicago, every five years, it has been our tradition to host a national summit inviting judges, attorneys and law students from across the country for an opportunity to engage, encourage and empower one another and the next generation of lawyers. The theme of the 2023 National Summit March 30-April 1 was “Together, We Soar,” emphasizing that our potential is limitless when we work to uplift one another.

National Summit speakers and honorees included Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Obama Foundation and former special adviser to President Barack Obama; Janai Nelson, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Desiree Ralls-Morrison, general counsel of McDonald’s; Hon. J. Michelle Childs, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal; Danielle Gray, global chief legal officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance; Loretta Lynch, former U.S. Attorney General; Haben Girma, human rights activist and best-selling author; Hon. Ann Claire Williams, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (ret.) and chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, and many others. The event was hosted by BWLA in partnership with other women and local and regional bar organizations from across the country.

We celebrated the progress we have made in the profession but also engaged in courageous conversations, which are the cornerstone of mutual understanding, civility and respect. We will continue to push forward, together.