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The ABA and I: How we met

Conisha Hackett
Conisha Hackett speaks for a resolution during the 2019 ABA Law Student Division Assembly in San Francisco in August.

Hi, my name is Conisha, and I am your Delegate for Diversity and Inclusion.

Now that introductions are out of the way, let me tell you a little bit about my pathway to this position. While I would like to start with the usual “once upon a time” fairytale beginning of my relationship with the ABA, that is further from the truth than the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

I knew nothing about the ABA. Well, actually I knew that the acronym stood for American Bar Association and that one day, I would have to join to practice law. But, honestly, that was it. 

I was first approached by this man wearing a Malcolm X hoodie in a resort in Cape Town, South Africa. The story goes a little like this…

Some friends and I had just returned from seeing the sights when this young man walks through the doors of the resort. While we are taught to assume nothing, I obviously assumed he was a law student and participating in the program. Earning two degrees in history, I was automatically intrigued by this hoodie. I mean he was handsome, but that hoodie… I needed one of those. 

I walked over and in my most professional southwest Mississippi accent, I asked, “Scuse me, sir. Can you please tell me where you got that hoodie?” The hoodie smiled (not the man), and I knew the young man would give me the link.  

Fast forward about six months. I still did not have a hoodie, but the young man wearing the hoodie had become a good friend and confidant of mine. During one of our long conversations—really my rants about the importance of inclusion in higher education—he tells me, “Hey, Conisha. There is this position you would be great for.” 

I immediately responded, “Really, Justin? I’m talking about real life issues we are facing and you want me to run for another position in yet another organization? Don’t you think that’s a bit disrespectful?”

Justin did not respond for about fifteen seconds. Dramatically I yell at him, “Justin, Justin, I know you hear me.” 

“I hear you. Are you done?”

I sigh deeply and say, “Yes, gone tell me ‘bout it, Justin.”

He guided me to the site to learn more about the position for the ABA Law Students Division Delegate of Diversity. This was the beginning of a brand-new courtship.

When the ABA and I began to court

On March 18, 2019, I received an invitation to join a team of awesome people who would be running on a slate to hold positions on the 2019 – 2020 Law Student Division Council. Knowing how difficult it would be to campaign in my individual capacity, I said of course.

We began immediately sending out emails to all law school SBA presidents and ABA representatives as well as liaisons. Some responded with questions, others responded with positive vibes. With these responses, I figured the ABA must be pretty cool.

During this process, I spoke with my hoodie-wearing friend almost every night. He was back at his law school in Florida and I at mine in Mississippi. Although we were both students, he had become my professor. The subject matter was everything service and membership in the ABA. I had so many questions about what I needed to do to win and what it would mean if I won. I wondered if I could actually serve as the Delegate of Diversity and Inclusion and whether I deserved to even be able to represent and work to include diverse and minority populations of people. Voting was over and the results were in…

 The entire slate had been elected, and we were ready to work!

Our relationship continues to unfold

Before jumping in too deep, the ABA LSD and I discussed expectations we each held. Of course, she wanted me to work earnestly putting the goals and needs of her first when acting in my official capacity. I wanted her to keep her word. Just as she had so vigorously promoted diversity and inclusion, I desired that she allow me to work toward these goals by including not only in number but in representation the perspectives of diverse people and minority populations.

Needless to say, we consented. We officially became a couple on August 9, 2019. This is the day that I stood in front of a room of about 200 SBA presidents and ABA representatives and took an oath to work with and on their behalf.

While the ABA and I have not yet decided what our future looks like, we do know that we have a lifelong commitment to one another. For now, the jury is out.

Conisha Hackett Conisha Hackett is a third-year law student at the University of Mississippi School of Law who serves as the Delegate of Diversity-Elect for the ABA Law Student Division. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in History from Tougaloo College and herMaster of Arts in History from Mississippi State University.