Trerod Hall and Amber Hamilton Gregg on JL Turner Legal Association

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Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with JL Turner Legal Association President Trerod Hall and Amber Hamilton Gregg, immediate past president, to discuss the association and its goals for the coming year.

AALM: Is there an interesting story behind the founding of your association?

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TH & AHG: In 1896 J.L. Turner, Sr. began practicing law in Dallas. Due to his race, Mr. Turner could not become a member in white legal organizations and faced several issues as a practicing attorney. In order to address these issues, several local African American lawyers met on May 4, 1952, and an organization called, “The Barristers’ Club” was formed. In 1956, the group voted to change the name to “The J.L. Turner Legal Association” to honor Mr. Turner, Sr., who had mentored the local African-American lawyers. In 1975, JLTLA was incorporated and issued a charter by the State of Texas.

AALM: What is the association’s main focus in the coming year?

TH & AHG: The association’s main focus is to expand the programming that we laid the foundation for this past year. We implemented the Inaugural JL Turner Legal Association Leadership Program, which is a pipeline to leadership program open to local Black Law Students Association members at SMU Law, TAMU Law and UNT Dallas Law Schools. We also re-established the LA Bedford Awards luncheon where we recognize attorneys, judges and organizations that are making great strides in our legal community and community at large. We look forward to making both of those programs memorable in the coming year.

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AALM: How would you encourage a young lawyer to become involved in their legal community?

TH & AHG: We encourage our young lawyers to join organizations such as JLTLA and the African American Lawyers Section (AALS) of the State Bar of Texas. We also encourage all our members to join the National Bar Association, of which JLTLA is an affiliate chapter. The National Bar Association has a young lawyers division that provides excellent resources and programming for members who have been practicing less than 10 years. There are also events that the equality committee and the minority participation committee of the Dallas Bar Association holds that young lawyers can attend.

AALM: How frequently does the association offer CLE events? How much do they cost?

TH & AHG: Fortunately, our CLE programming is free with membership. We offer CLEs monthly and bi-monthly throughout the year. Some of the CLE topics in the past few years have ranged on the topics of DEI best practices, In House Counsel perspectives, Courtroom Advocacy Skills training, and Meet the Judges best practices panel discussions, and Best Practices Federal Court Edition.

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AALM: In the past year, what CLE events seemed to be most popular?

TH & AHG: This past year the most raved about CLEs we hosted were regarding the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion and our Litigation Judicial Panel event “May It Please the Court.” Our members enjoyed hearing about the effects of the new law that was passed this year banning DEI initiatives in certain programming and enjoyed hearing from our local African American judges on how to be successful as a litigator in their courts. We also host brown bag lunch panels in courtrooms with local judges that our members frequent.

AALM: Does the association offer any mentorship opportunities?

TH & AHG: Absolutely! We have an outstanding mentoring committee that oversees our mentorship programming with our local Black Law Students Association chapters. We also partner with the African American Lawyers Section of the State Bar in our pipeline program by speaking at Law Day and Career Days at local elementary, middle, and high schools. We host mixers with the local law schools, participate in speed networking events and attend conferences where we can reach and network with the law school students. We are always open to having more people serve on the mentoring committee, anyone interested should email [email protected].

AALM: If someone wanted to move into a leadership role, what is your first word of advice?

TH & AHG: We encourage anyone interested in a leadership role with JL Turner to come to our monthly board meetings, which are held the second Tuesday of the month at 6:00pm. Make sure you have joined the organization and are a dues paid member. It is also helpful to serve on a committee and help with the programming of the organization to know the inner workings of our association.

AALM: As more students graduate, how is the association helping to integrate them into the legal community?

TH & AHG: JLTLA understands that feeling welcomed and included as a new attorney is vital to success in our legal community. That is why we host “Welcome to the Bar” mixers to provide a welcoming space for our newly licensed attorneys. We also attend and host a table at the Dallas Bar Association’s New Member Orientation. We want new attorneys to know that they have a network of attorneys and mentors that they can turn to as they navigate their new journey in our bar association.

AALM: Do you partner with any other associations in the local community?

TH & AHG: Absolutely! We have partnered with the local Black Law Students Associations, the Southwest Black Law Students Association, the Mexican American Bar Association, the L. Clifford Davis Legal Association, and the equality committee of the Dallas Bar Association to put on events and programming. Since our members share the same concerns and are affected in the same way on certain legal topics, it is vital to share resources and perspectives to advance our goals cohesively.

AALM: What is the main mission of your association?

TH & AHG: JLTLA is an organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life in our community through education, service and scholarship. The members of JLTLA provide scholarships to law students demonstrating financial or other needs, provide attorney mentors for law students, perform educational and other community outreach projects for North Texas area residents, and assist our members and the community to become more aware of African-American attorneys who practice in various areas of the law.

Attorney at Law Magazine

Attorney at Law Magazine is a national B2B trade publication for and about private practice attorneys. The magazine focuses on the industry, its events, happenings and the professionals and firms that drive its success. The editorial is a collaboration of interviews with professionals, industry expert penned columns and articles about advancing your legal practice through marketing, practice management and customer service.

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