ELPO Law Diversity Program Receives Statewide Recognition

by Ashley Carter

The Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) held its Annual Convention last week in Lexington, KY. During the convention, the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) awarded the 2023 Nathaniel R. Harper Award to English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP (ELPO Law) for its Legal Diversity Pipeline Project. The award seeks to recognize those individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to changing the face of the Kentucky Bar by promoting full and equal participation in the legal profession through the encouragement and inclusion of women, minorities, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community and/or other underrepresented groups.

The Award is named for Nathaniel R. Harper, one of the first African-Americans to be admitted to the practice of law in Kentucky. Because African-Americans were excluded from law schools in the Commonwealth at the time of Harper’s admission, he established the Harper Law School in his law office, where he trained and helped produce several African-American lawyers. It is Harper’s pioneering spirit and sense of responsibility to pave the way for others that the Award seeks to honor.

ELPO Law’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion is reflected in the Legal Diversity Pipeline Project. Created in 2017, the project’s goal is to help mentor high school students and diversify the field of law by ensuring that students of diverse backgrounds consider law as a career option. The project works to bring a variety of legal professions into high school classrooms, making representatives from the legal field available to discuss what educational paths students should pursue if they would like to pursue law as a career.

“We are thrilled that the Legal Diversity Pipeline Project is the recipient of this year’s Nathaniel R. Harper Award and that the KBA believes that the Project’s efforts have honored Hon. Harper’s important legacy,” says Rebecca Simpson, attorney and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee chair of ELPO Law. “We want and need more minorities, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community and other underrepresented groups to join the legal profession so we can better serve the legal needs of our community. It is our hope that through the Pipeline Project, more young people from diverse backgrounds will choose to enter the legal profession thereby making us a stronger, more representative, and better Bar Association.”