Video Interview: Octavia Carson, Founder, Community Fund for Black Bar Applicants

Video Interview: Octavia Carson, Founder, Community Fund for Black Bar Applicants

The Community Fund for Black Bar Applicants was founded by Octavia Carson, J.D. a 2020 law school graduate. Its mission is to provide at least $500 to 100 Black bar exam applicants across the United States each year. This mission stems out of a desire to diversify the legal profession and raise the percentage of Black attorneys in the United States from 5% to 20% by 2024.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Octavia to discuss how the disparate impact of COVID-19 on Black 2020 law graduates prompted her to found the fund. A video of that conversation is below. For more information about and to donate to the fund, please visit​ today.

Octavia Carson, Founder, Community Fund for Black Bar Applicants.

Octavia Carson is a Judicial Law Clerk with the Board of Immigration Appeals. They started the Black Bar Applicant Fund to assist black bar applicants with bar exam expenses and help raise the percentage of Black attorneys in the U.S. They graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2020. They were born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan. While in law school, Octavia served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Tomas Jefferson Law Review and was previously the president of the Black Law Student Association. Octavia interned with WilkMazz, Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and Higgs, Fletcher, and Mack LLP. They also mentored diverse high school students interested in pursuing law through the Crawford Legal Institute Mentorship Bond. Octavia is the first person in their immediate family to attend a four-year university, Central Michigan University, and the first to attend law school.

Selected Bibliography

Alex Poinsett, The ‘Whys’ Behind the Black Lawyer Shortage: Disproportionate Bar Exam Failure Rates Raise Suspicions of Racism, Ebony, Dec. 1974.

Jerols S. Auerbach, Unequal Justice: Lawyers and Social Change in Modern America (1976).

George B. Shepherd, No African-American Lawyers Allowed: The Inefficient Racism of the ABA’s Accreditation of Law Schools, 53 J. of Legal Education 103 (2003).

Adjoa Artis Aiyetoro, Truth Matters: A Call for the American Bar Association to Acknowledge Its Past and Make Reparations to African Descendants, 18 Geo. Mason U. Civ. Rts. L.J. 51 (2007).

Dan Subotnik, Does Testing = Race Discrimination?: Ricci, the Bar Exam, the LSAT, and the Challenge to Learning, 8 U. Mass. L. Rev. 332 (2013).

Jordan L. Couch, Grading the Test: Why the Bar Exam Falls Short, and What Should Replace It, Washington State Bar News, Sept. 2020.

Heather Murphy, She Was Going Into Labor. But She Had a Bar Exam to Finish, N.Y. Times, Oct. 13, 2020.

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