Microsoft, National Bar Association: It Takes a Village …

Microsoft, National Bar Association: It Takes a Village …

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Time and time again, the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” proves to be true. On Wednesday, Microsoft and the National Bar Association teamed up to demonstrate the importance of this maxim yet again.

Founded in 1925, the National Bar Association is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of minority attorneys, judges, law students, and paralegals. It has more than 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world.  Established in 1975, the Microsoft Corporation is a premier multinational technology corporation.

For the past 10 years, the National Bar Association has worked with Howard University to convene the Crump Law Camp, a two-week residential camp designed to introduce minority high school students to the opportunities and challenges of the legal profession.  Since it’s inception, the Law Camp has graduated more than 300 youth from over 40 states. 

Yesterday, Microsoft welcomed the National Bar Association and the law campers into the company’s Innovation and Policy Center located in Washington, D.C.

Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. government affairs for Microsoft, helped kick-off the days’ activities, which included conversations with Microsoft attorneys who spoke to students about their professional backgrounds; a networking lunch with members of Microsoft’s Law and Corporate Affairs Department; and a tour of the Microsoft Innovation Center, complete with hands on demonstrations of the company’s telepresence capabilities and special time in the X-Box Lounge.

“This program is incredibly important,” said Humphries in remarks to Politic365. “When we talk about technology, intellectual property, and you think about the future and … about this country becoming more of a majority minority … and you think about diversity, it’s so important, at a young age … to talk to [kids], and educate them” about the potential of technology to change their lives.

During the Microsoft Innovation Day with the Crump Law Camp, Humphries and his colleagues spoke to students about the myriad opportunities technology makes possible for them — from being a lawyer dealing with patents and transactions, to being the new innovators of tomorrow, creating new products and bringing those products to market.

Microsoft’s primary mission for the National Bar Association campers was exposure.  “Sometimes people don’t know what’s out there,” said Humphries, “and if you don’t know what’s out there, and don’t have the chance to get educated about the different opportunities that are out there, you tend to go the traditional route.”

Speaking fondly of the diversity at Microsoft, Humphries said that “the future is still in information technology as you look at careers, and the world has gotten more competitive.”  It is for this reason that he is deeply passionate about helping students of color realize the potential of technology in their personal and professional lives.

“You can be whatever you want,” he said, “and there is a place for you in technology.”

The 40 students taking part in Wednesday’s Microsoft day had the opportunity to better understand the importance of technology in modern society, but they also got a bird’s eye view of how the fields of technology and lawyering could combine to create some truly unique and exciting possibilities.

Daryl Parks, president of the National Bar Association, underscored the importance of this dynamic during yesterday’s event.  “The Crump Law Camp has to be a crown jewel and the National Bar’s pipeline project,” he said. “We bring young people from around the world to Washington, D.C., to teach them about opportunities in the law for people of color.

“And today is even more special,” he said, “because Microsoft, under Fred Humphries’ leadership, has opened its doors to allow these students to have a great view of technology’s effect on the legal profession, and opportunities in the legal profession for lawyers of color, so that they might consider entering into this fantastic world of technology when today you don’t really find many of us involved in technology as lawyers.”

The National Bar Association and Microsoft have adopted the ‘village to raise a child’ methodology with respect to paving a new path for the future attorneys, engineers and technologists of this country.  “Our company’s success, when it comes to innovation, is all dependent on people,” Humphries told the group. “It’s the ideas and creativity of people,” that drive the Microsoft brand.

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