The Capital District Black Bar Association (“CDBBA”), predecessor to the recently formed and renamed Capital District Black & Hispanic Bar Association (“CDBHBA”), was formed in the early 1980’s by Bernard Bryan and Randy Treece to serve the needs of attorneys of color whose ranks were beginning to swell. As the number of African-American attorneys increased – approximately 90 – it was quite evident that their presence in traditional Bar associations was obscure. For more than two decades, CDBBA’s efforts centered on increasing the number of attorneys of color, promoting their presence in the profession of law, promoting professional and social interaction among its members, and lending a public voice on those challenging issues that confront the Capital District. Thus, from its inception, the CDBBA’s mission focused on providing a meaningful presence for local minority attorneys not only in the legal community but in all communities within the region.
CDBBA tackled the troublesome issue of retention at Albany Law School, which in the early 1980s was experiencing a significant problem in retaining matriculating students of color. CDBBA devised a mentoring program whereby members of this association were assigned to first year students of color to develop a rapport and help, if necessary, to develop solutions to their needs. Positive retention results eventually ensued and Albany Law School embraced our program to such a degree that it created its own mentoring system for students of color.
During the 1980s it was revealed that nationally, law school graduates of color had lower passing rates on the bar exam than other students. Therefore, CDBBA developed personal, hands-on techniques, by both classroom instruction and individual tutoring, to promote success in passing the bar exam. In addition to instruction by its members, CDBBA invited regional experts on this issue to lend guidance to the students and we further obtained grants and funding to help students meet their most pressing financial needs during the bar exam preparation period. Once again, a CDBBA program was recognized and replicated throughout the State.