UHLC's Black Law Students Association honors Jim Lemond '70, the school's first African-American graduate

Kourtney Collins, president of the University of Houston Law Center's Black Legal Students Association, left, with Jim Lemond '70, and BLSA vice president Zakiya Carter

Kourtney Collins, president of the University of Houston Law Center's Black Legal Students Association, left, with Jim Lemond '70, and BLSA vice president Zakiya Carter

Oct. 26, 2016 – The University of Houston Law Center's Black Law Students Association celebrated a local legal legend at its recent annual scholarship banquet at the Crowne Plaza Houston near NRG Stadium.

Jim Lemond, a 1970 alumnus of the Law Center, was the school's first African-American to graduate. His birthday fell on the day of the banquet.

"It was a complete surprise to find out that the BLSA leadership knew it was my 73rd birthday and brought a cake, candles and a gift for me," Lemond said.  "It was great that my son Scott Lemond '94, my daughter-in-law, Connica '01, and grandson, Sebastien, were present to enjoy the event, too."

Lemond also said he considered the recognition by BLSA to be one of the most special honors he has received over his lengthy legal career. 

"It was an honor for the Black Law Students Association to be able to celebrate Mr. Lemond," said Kourtney Collins, BLSA president. "He paved the way for each and every one of us. He had the courage to attend and successfully earn his law degree from a predominantly white institution during one of the most racially tumultuous times in U.S. history.

"He is living proof that the best way to succeed is to allow the obstacles you face to be your motivating force and to never allow your greatness and talent to be discounted."

Meredith J. Duncan, the Law Center's George Butler Research Professor of Law, served as the keynote speaker. Duncan emphasized the significance of minority students having a pipeline to the legal profession.

"Law schools and the legal profession are suffering from a lack of racial and ethnic diversity, and the legal profession has a unique responsibility to take affirmative, well calculated measures to diversify our profession," Duncan said. "An effective means by which to increase the pool of qualified diverse law school applicants is for the legal profession to take an interest in and commit to the creation and maintenance of robust and bountiful pipeline programs."

Duncan said pipeline programs can be informal or formal efforts like the Law Center's Pre-Law Pipeline Program. She suggested that pipeline initiatives should be designed to increase diversity in the legal profession by capturing minority, socio-economically challenged, or otherwise disadvantaged students early enough in their education to help them acquire the training and information necessary to become well-qualified law school applicants and legal professionals.

Sponsors for the banquet included the law firms of Bracewell, Vinson & Elkins, Haynes and Boone, Jackson Walker, Andrews Kurth, and Porter Hedges.

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