Congratulations are in order!
The new presidents of the American Bar Association and National Bar Association are both Black women!
According to The Global Legal Post, Deborah Enix-Ross is a senior legal adviser with Debevoise & Plimpton who has a longstanding relationship with the American Bar Association (ABA). She has served in a variety of ABA capacities, as chair of the House of Delegates, International Law Section member, and founder of the ABA’s Women’s Interest Network, her commitment runs deep. She has also served as an ABA representative in the International Bar Association.
Now The University of Miami School of Law alumnus has been named the new president of the ABA, recently sworn in by retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer at the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago. Enix-Ross will replace former president Reginald Turner, committing to continue his mission of “promoting public understanding of the judiciary.” The veteran legal professional has planned to use her time as president to “focus on civics, civility, and collaboration,” emphasizing the role of lawyers as community role models. Her hope is to bolster those values within the ABA and enhance the association’s work in society, including as election poll workers.
“Lawyers must lead the way in promoting…the cornerstones of our democracy, to restore confidence in our democratic institutions, in the judicial system, and to protect the rule of law…Our differences are aggravated by incivility in public discourse,” Enix-Ross said while addressing the ABA House of Delegates.
In her new role, Enix-Ross will become only the fifth Black ABA president and the 11th woman president in the organization’s 144-year-history. She plans to usher the association into a new era, one marked by robust investment in public service. Her mission is quite similar to another new Black woman bar association president, Lonita K. Baker.
Baker is a Louisville, Kentucky attorney and the new president of the National Bar Association, one of the country’s oldest and most extensive networks of majority Black attorneys and judges, WDRB news reports. Baker is also a social justice advocate, respected community leader, and attorney for the family of Breonna Taylor, the young woman unjustly murdered by Louisville police.
The Louisville native was recently sworn in as the 80th president of the National Bar Association by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards during the organization’s annual conference in Memphis. Baker said the moment was a full circle moment since she got her chops working under Judge Edwards in law school.
“Judge Edwards was actually my advanced trial practice professor when I was in law school. So he’s been a mentor to me even before I became an attorney. And then we’re both public defenders again some years apart, but he was able to mentor me through my time at the public defender’s office and just always been a positive reinforcement throughout my legal career,” said Baker.
As both women step into their appointments, they simultaneously make history, marking the first time that two Black women helm the country’s most influential bar associations. Enix-Ross and Baker each took time during their ceremonies to remind members of the powerful history of civic action in the associations, particularly in the areas of social and racial justice, as well as the organizations’ impact on the community and society at large.
"As a Black attorney, our past presidents and leaders go as far back as Fred Gray, who was the attorney for Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.," said Baker.
“The ABA, through its incredible breadth and influence, has the power to change and inspire the legal community as no other organization can,” echoed Enix-Ross.
Congratulations President Baker and President Enix-Ross.
(l to r) Deborah Enix-Ross & Lonita K. Baker, Esq. Photo Courtesy of Arnold Adler/ABA Journal/Christopher Fryer/Louisville Business First