I have been fortunate to be a member of the Arizona Black Bar (ABB), formerly known as Hayzel B. Daniels since 2005. Hayzel B. Daniels was the first African-American to be admitted to the bar in Arizona and later the first African-American judge. Over the past 13 years, it has been rewarding to meet so many attorneys in various areas of practice. I have worked over 20 years in criminal prosecution as a deputy county attorney, so ABB has given me a chance to meet attorneys who practice in so many different areas of law, as well as members of the bench. Some like myself work in government, while others were in law firms and in-house counsel. However, we share a common goal – to make our legal community the best and to serve the community we live in. In addition to the camaraderie of attorneys it has afforded me the opportunity to work with law students in developing their legal careers. The impact on them and the contributions made in the community have been phenomenal.
Several areas of service that come to mind are the various moot court competitions, community forums, and scholarship banquets. The first moot court was a team competition involving law students, who competed as a team in the regional competition. The students who excelled were able to compete at the national level. It was a real joy watching the enthusiasm of the students and mentoring them as they advanced to the national competition. Our team did exceptionally well and succeeded in placing third.
Another moot court competition involved high school students. Similar to the law school competition, the high school students competed as a team locally. Those who were successful during the local competition, could have the opportunity to compete nationally. I think back when I first because interested in going to law school it was back in eighth grade. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to work with students at that age. It is never too early to encourage high school students in a career development. It is important to be a positive example as you never know what impact you can have on a young person and the next generation. The encouragement at this age may be all the spark they need to go forward and pursue a career in the law.
Our community forums and panel discussion serve to educate and inform on a variety of issues. We have been able to discuss interactions with police, self-defense, and furthering post-secondary education.
While serving as the secretary from 2011- 2017, I began working with the worked on the scholarship committee. Each year ABB hosts the Hayzel B. Daniels Scholarship Award banquet. Although the name of the organization changed some years ago to ABB, the character and level of commitment did not. The scholarship banquet is a way to remember Judge Daniels and honor him for the endurance he had and work he accomplished. The scholarships are for a bar prep class.
Around 20 years ago, bar prep classes used to be around $1,000, but today the same class can cost between $2,500-$4000. Many law students are already graduating from law school with a heavy debt load, the additional costs for a bar review class can add undue stress and worry. That’s where the annual banquet and Foundation was established. This has been a way to help raise funds to sponsor scholarships to deserving graduates. By easing this burden, recent graduates can concentrate on studying and passing the bar, and not struggle on how to pay for the review class.
Last year at the annual scholarship banquet ABB presented with the Community Service Award. This award is given annually to an attorney who exhibits community involvement I was truly humbled. Serving the community is one of the most important aspects of ABB that honors the legacy of Judge Daniels as well. He left a firm foundation and we just need to continue to build on it. There is always something to be done that can improve the community and impact the people of which we serve. We want to continue doing our part to help make a difference. Frankie Jones