The state's oldest women's bar association was honored last month at the New Jersey State Bar Association's Annual Meeting and Convention.
The state bar's Committee on Diversity honored the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey, Inc. as this year's winner of the Mel Narol Excellence in Diversity Award.
"The ABWL has been recognized because of the things it has done in the community and the legal community as a whole," said Joan Burke, who co-chairs the state bar association's Diversity Committee with Lora Fong and George Rios.
The award was presented at the 12th annual Diversity Luncheon during the NJSBA's Annual Meeting in Atlantic City at the Borgata Hotel.
Founded in 1975, the ABWL is a nonpartisan organization that promotes and encourages the participation of African-American women in the field of law.
In recent years, the organization has become known statewide for its community-based law day programs and its annual Scholarship Jazz Brunch, where it awards book grants and scholarships to female law students and recognizes and encourages the professional achievements of its members and others who have made significant contributions to the community.
The association also operates a mentoring program for young women at the Bordentown Female Juvenile Secure Care Facility; a court night program where Trenton high school students can interact and discuss topics of interest with attorneys and judges; and the Making Choices Not Taking Chances program, which is presented annually to high school students around the state.
Most recently, in 2009, the ABWL established the first American Inn of Court created by minority attorneys. The Anne E. Thompson American Inn of Court assists attorneys in improving their legal and networking skills while developing a strong sense of ethics.
The state bar association's diversity award recognizes individuals and organizations that have spearheaded inclusion and made strides for women and minority lawyers.