2021 BASF/JDC President Values Education and Service
in Uncertain Times
The following are excerpts from Marvin K. Anderson’s remarks at his Dec. 8, 2020, installation as the 2021 president of the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Justice and Diversity Center.
I am proud and honored to have been elected to serve as the 108th President of the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Justice and Diversity Center.
Let me tell you a little bit about my background. I was born in Chicago in the late 1950s and raised in a public housing project on the West Side of Chicago. I am the second of my parents’ nine children. I attended the local public grammar and middle schools in my neighborhood. I owe everything to my parents, especially my mother, who sacrificed and saved and gave her all to keep her children alive and to teach them the value and importance of getting an education.
I liked school. I like learning. One day my older brother interrupted my eighth grade English class to announce I had been awarded a scholarship to attend a boarding school in New England. I attended Milton Academy for four years where I made some great friends and served as president of the Boys School my senior year. I attended Stanford where I majored in political science and spent a year abroad in England studying British government, politics, history, and art.
After college, I knew I had an interest in being a lawyer, but I really did not know any lawyers or know very much about the practice of law. So, I took a year off, moved to New York, and got a job as a paralegal with a Wall Street law firm before attending Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C., where I met my best friend and now husband, Terrance Mayfield.
We moved to San Francisco in the mid-1980s. I cut my teeth as a litigation attorney defending securities and insurance matters with excellent lawyers at the former Pettit & Martin law firm. In the early ’90s, I worked as a solo trial lawyer, and several years later, I accepted an offer to join what is today the AT&T Legal Department.
Service to Others is the ‘Greatest Gift’
Looking forward to 2021, allow me to state the obvious: we live in an uncertain and perilous time. A deadly pandemic. Assaults on our democratic norms. Racial injustice. Food, employment, and education insecurity. The stress from it all is palpable and potentially lethal. Take a breath. Take a deep, long, lung-filling breath and let all that stress out.
We will continue to work for diversity, equity, and fairness. We will continue to fight against injustice, ignorance, and intolerance. We will continue to lift up our voice, and our legal toolkit, to represent the underprivileged in this great city.
Now take a moment and reflect on the great work of you and your Bar Association to come together for positive change.
We will build on that work in the year ahead. We will continue to work for diversity, equity, and fairness. We will continue to fight against injustice, ignorance, and intolerance. We will continue to lift up our voice, and our legal toolkit, to represent the underprivileged in this great city. We will continue to be a strong ally not just for our friends at San Francisco Superior Court, but for our clients, pro bono and non-pro bono, who need the courts to be there ready, willing, and able to ensure access to justice.
I strongly believe that service to others is the greatest gift one can give to another human being, and to the community at large. This value proposition is a core tenet of the BASF mission statement, which states, and I quote:
The Bar Association of San Francisco champions equal access to justice and promotes humanity, excellence, and diversity in the legal profession.
We provide legal services to disadvantaged and underserved individuals in San Francisco. We create opportunities for legal service in the community and encourage participation by our members.
We advance professional growth and education, and elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and respect in the practice of law.
We cultivate diversity and equality in the legal profession, provide a collective voice for public advocacy, and pioneer constructive change in society.
Four Goals for 2021
In 2021, as part of the president’s initiative, I have four goals. The first is for you and your family to stay safe and follow all health and safety guidelines as a top priority to fight the pandemic. Wear a mask or face-covering in public. Always maintain six feet of social distancing. Wash your hands frequently. Use hand sanitizer.
The second goal is to ask that you renew your commitment to action – compassionate sustained action – to provide pro bono legal services to the needy through the volunteer attorney opportunities available through the Justice and Diversity Center. Go to www.sfbar.org/jdc for more information.
The third goal is to ask you to double your efforts to diversify the legal profession by supporting the pipeline work of Destination Law School and sponsoring the cost of an LSAT review course for an economically disadvantaged college student. The aim here is to increase the number of diverse graduates going into law school. If your resources permit, consider sponsoring a full Bay Area Minority Law Student Scholarship. As you may have grasped by now, I am passionate about education, particularly when it comes to encouraging graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider pursuing a legal education and joining the legal profession.
The fourth goal is to invite your participation in a three-part speaker series on Racial Justice. The officer-involved deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and too many others stunned all of us and sparked anew a movement to eradicate racism and racial injustice. A focused discussion on race and Racial Justice in America is long overdue. Stay tuned for more information in 2021.
Thank You for Your Support
In closing, I would like to thank AT&T and the AT&T Legal Department for supporting the work of your Bar Association and JDC for many years through its sponsorship of a Minority Law Student Scholarship, a JDC fellowship, the JDC annual gala, and the Women’s Impact Network – No Glass Ceiling 2.0 Conference. Special thanks to Isabelle Salgado with AT&T for her service on the BASF board and her continuing work with the Women’s Impact Network.
Thank you for allowing me to represent you as the president of BASF and JDC. Thank you for being members and supporters of BASF. I look forward to working with each of you in the year ahead.
Marvin K. Anderson is an attorney at AT&T Services Inc. and the 2021 president for BASF and JDC.