Black lawyers must be ‘conscience of the nation,’ association president says

By | August 31, 2017

Juan Thomas was a senior in college, a bit adrift and unsure where life might take him next, when he woke up to the news one morning that Carol Moseley Braun had beaten serious odds to win the 1992 primary for Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat. The Aurora native decided then that he would return to his home state to help her become the first black woman senator.

“It gave me a sense of purpose and direction,” Thomas said.

Twenty-five years later, after several forays into politics, Thomas feels a new, weighty purpose as president of the National Bar Association, the nation’s largest and oldest network of black lawyers and judges.

The Chicago attorney has taken the helm of the 92-year-old organization during what he believes is a time of national crisis — “a crisis of consciousness, a crisis of character and a crisis of competence,” he said.

One of Thomas’ first orders of business as he began his one-year term in early August was to announce that chapters will provide pro bono legal services to peaceful counterprotesters arrested at white supremacist rallies. That offer does not extend to those who resort to violence. (Chicago Tribune)

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