Making a Difference… Community Spotlight with John M. Langston Bar Association of Los Angeles President Melvin L. Felton, II Esq.
Judicate West

We like to periodically shine a spotlight on organizations that are doing good work in the community. We recently connected with Langston Bar Association’s current president, Melvin Felton, who is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Sanders Roberts, to discuss the association’s mission and current initiatives.

What is the mission of the Langston Bar Association? 

To empower leadership, advance the professional development of its membership, and promote the administration of justice in the Black community and the community at large.

Why is the organization personally special to you? 

It has been a tremendous support system for me since I was a summer associate.  It has given me access to numerous excellent practitioners, clients, and is my main source for referrals across practice areas.

What are some specific ways that the Langston Bar is addressing diversity issues in our legal community and beyond?  What can others do to help? 

Through our mission, Langston promotes the development of our membership, which is mostly Black.  By our very existence, we support the most fundamental aspect of legal diversity, which is helping to create new lawyers and sustain those who are already in the profession.

Are there specific events/programs of the organization that you would like to highlight?

Each year we mentor law students and award more than $100k in scholarships.  We also provide evaluations for judicial candidates each year.  Moreover, we induct select lawyers who have been practicing for 35 or more years into our Hall of Fame.  We host events for summer associates at firms and numerous CLEs and other events targeting a wide range of practice areas.

Reflecting on global current events, any final thoughts to share? 

This year, our theme is “in service.”  It is derived from John M. Langston’s autobiography where he described an admissions officer offering him a place in an upcoming law school class, but only if he were to shun his Black racial identity and say he was from the Caribbean.  In declining the invitation, Langston said, “I will die as I lived, in the service of my fellow countrymen.”

In that spirit, we have pledged at least 300 hours in legal clinics that serve our community performing services we, as lawyers, are uniquely qualified to provide.  Thus far, we have provided more than 100 of those hours in a variety of legal clinics.