WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The heads of five national legal associations have written an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, asking the incoming president to bring unity and inclusion to not only his inchoate administration but to the nation as well.
The letter, in its entirety reads:
“As the leaders
of national legal associations, including the National Association of Women
Lawyers, Ms. JD, the LGBT Bar, the National Asian Pacific American Bar
Association and the National Bar Association, we urge you and the members of
your incoming presidential administration and Congress to find common ground
and lead the nation towards unity and inclusion.
and as lawyers, regardless of our party affiliation, we cherish the rule of law
and the peaceful transfer of power to a new administration after each election.
At the culmination of this challenging and contentious election season, we call
upon you to lead the nation towards unity and inclusion. We also call upon you
and our newly elected Congress to preserve and expand the hard-fought rights
that have been established for all of our citizens, not to diminish them.
"The work of
our organizations continues to be critical, as we amplify the collective voice
of women and men of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual
orientations. You, along with Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, all agree
that we must come together as one united people. Actions supporting inclusion
and justice for all are essential to achieving that goal. We call on you to
make diverse appointments to leadership positions on your transition team, to
key positions in your administration and at every level of government, and to
the federal judiciary. We owe it to ourselves, as well as to those who came
before us and those who come after to work together.”
Newsline asked Leslie
Richards-Yellen, president of the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL),
the motivation behind the letter. Richards-Yellen, who has practiced law for 32
years and currently serves as director of inclusion for the prestigious
international law firm Hogan Lovells,
told Newsline, “One of the best
times to influence an administration is in the beginning” and that NAWL as well
as the co-signers of the letter were seeking to preserve the progress women and
minorities have made in achieving the obtainment of high legal offices."
Asked if there were specific concerns that prompted the letter, Richards-Yellen said “just given the discourse
during this election” NAWL wanted to ensure that the equality and rule of
law prevailed as it pertained to protecting the rights of women, minorities and
members of the LGBT community who have fought so hard over the years to achieve
In her eight years at NAWL, including one as president, Richards-Yellen said this was the first
time her organization had communicated with an incoming president, but it was
not the first time an administration had been petitioned.
“When Attorney General Eric Holder stepped down,” Richards-Yellen
said, “NAWL wrote a letter to President Obama expressing our desire to see a
woman appointed as attorney general. We were very pleased when he did that” referring
to the appointment of former New York attorney Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
Organizations such as NAWL, Ms. JD, the National Asian
Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the LGBT Bar Association say their mission is to see more women and minorities represented
in the legal field, which brings up the issue of unofficial quotas.