Editors’ Note: This month, in celebration of the pioneers who paved ─ and continue to pave ─ the way for civil rights and equality in America, we are featuring a Q&A miniseries with MoFo attorneys of color to discuss what Black History Month means to them.
Mia Akers is an associate in the Litigation Department of Morrison & Foerster’s Los Angeles office.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means celebrating the contributions and rich history of Black people in our society, which are often forgotten, and celebrating my identity as a Black woman. Each year, this month is an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices those before me have made, allowing me to stand where I am today, and to analyze the ways I can use my voice to continue to help advance the lives of Black society. I also love participating in a number of Black History Month events with family, friends, and the broader community.
Can you share a favorite MoFo moment that reinforced your belief in the firm’s commitment to diversity?
Getting selected for the Keith Wetmore 1L Diversity Fellowship was a proud moment for me in which I felt strongly about MoFo’s commitment to diversity. The fellowship, targeted toward first-year law students who are members of historically underrepresented groups in the legal profession, offers Black law students a pipeline to enter Big Law and access a predominantly white institution. As a Diversity Fellow, I had the chance to be more intimately involved with MoFo’s diversity initiatives, while receiving foundational legal training and opportunities early on in my career. Now, as an associate, I am excited to see how the program grows and evolves over time.
How do you see the legal industry shifting or growing over time in terms of diverse representation? Where do you see more room for growth?
It is my hope that Big Law firms and the legal industry in general work hard to not only increase the number of underrepresented lawyers in law offices across the country, but also create robust policies and programs to retain diverse talent. There are so many Black people, and other people of color, who should be represented in this profession, but are often shut out because of institutional racism, micro-aggressions, and implicit bias. I hope to see the legal industry combat these issues head-on and find innovative solutions to achieve more diverse representation.