San Francisco Attorney Magazine

Fall 2021

BASF President Anderson Reflects on a Time of Growth During Uncertainty

We raised our voice to take important stands on issues, expanding our presence as thought leaders in areas of social justice."

By Marvin Anderson

As we enter the fall of 2021, I am reminded of how we began the year.  At the beginning of my term, I said, “We will continue to work for diversity, equity, and fairness. We will continue to lift up our voice, and our legal toolkit, to represent the underprivileged in this great city.”  Thanks to all of our Association members, pro bono volunteers, and the hard-working staff of BASF and JDC, we have absolutely succeeded in continuing to support these goals. 

I am proud of the strides we have made as an association and a nonprofit to broaden educational opportunities, to increase access to justice to support all San Franciscans and to raise our voices on a number of societal issues. As I look back on this tumultuous year, we have much to be thankful for.  From the Racial Justice speaker series opening our minds and the Justice & Diversity Center’s (JDC)  free legal clinics opening up again to the record number of students attending our annual Career Fair, it’s been an exciting time. 

The Racial Justice speaker series is designed to challenge the systemic racism built into the landscape of our daily lives. The discussions we fostered on racial justice and reimagining policing have stoked additional conversation to advance our fight against injustice, ignorance, and intolerance throughout our membership. I am grateful the attorneys from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher were able to bring to you that initial presentation in May. The following speaker event in July, Voice of Change featuring activist and academic Rachel Cargle, brought a thoughtful conversation about unpacking white supremacy. We have one more on the agenda on voting rights on October 26, at 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. with New Georgia Project’s CEO Nsé Ufot. To register for this event, click here.

Educational programs that foster diversity in the legal profession are written into JDC’s mission statement and we have achieved several notable new heights in this area as well. In 2021, we launched the Diversity Legal Pipeline program as an extension of our Destination Law School program, achieving our goal of building out our infrastructure to facilitate demystifying the law school application process. This intensive two-day workshop was offered for 10 law school bound low-income undergraduates and recent graduates of color, providing them with information and experienced attorney advisory support to be successful in the application process. (Read more about the workshop here.)

I am thrilled to report we welcomed more than 730 students to our annual Diversity Career Fair, a record number even compared to pre-pandemic times. While this previously in-person event was forced to again be held online, we were able to leverage technology to expand our reach to students around the country.

Beyond law school students, our School-to-College program for grades 9-12 also inspires and educates diverse, underserved students in San Francisco. We have seen 73 students admitted to college this year through the support of our programming.

We raised our voice to take important stands on issues, expanding our presence as thought leaders in areas of social justice. We sent letters to government officials on a number of issues including immigration reform via BASF’s Immigrant Legal Defense Program, AB 256 (to extend the protections of the California Racial Justice Act (AB2542, 2020) to all Californians), as well as letters to Governor Gavin Newsom and Assemblymember Phil Ting, urging them to sign AB 1452 and its authorization of the “Be the Jury” pilot program.   BASF’s Criminal Justice Task Force gave AB 1452 its unanimous recommendation and our full organization stands in support. Economic hardship should not deter people from serving on juries; this bill will serve to inform us of future solutions to assure greater diversity in our jury pools.

As always, BASF strives to maintain the honor and dignity of the profession of the law and to promote the general welfare of the members by offering professional ethics and continuing legal education programs.  Our young lawyer division, the Barristers Club, has been particularly active to offer general CLE opportunities as well as programming focused in part on racial equity and diversifying the legal profession. Please visit the CLE calendar to review the upcoming programming.  

We are very thankful that during the pandemic, we were able to right-size our office space and move to our new location at 201 Mission Street in San Francisco while continuing to adapt and adjust according to the latest health guidelines and variant numbers. While it is unfortunate we are not yet able to gather in person again for this year’s Annual Membership Luncheon, I hope you will attend virtually as we welcome in the new 2022 BASF Board officers on December 16. 

It is a privilege and an honor to serve our membership and support the staff at BASF and JDC to make this all possible.

Thank you,
Marvin K. Anderson
President, Bar Association of San Francisco