CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Young Black Lawyers of Charlotte, YBLC, is launching this month with its first free meet and greet event at the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Uptown.
The lawyer exclusive event will be from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Founding members Tyra Pearson and Lashieka Hardin met at UNC School of Law and are currently attorneys in Charlotte. The women say a lack of Black representation in the field led them to create a nonprofit with the goal of networking and supporting Black lawyers under the age of 40.
Pearson is an associate at McGuireWoods LLP, and the president of YBLC. She says in professional settings she is often the only or one of only a few Black people in the room.
"We feel that impostor syndrome when we look around and are like, 'are we supposed to be here?' Yes, we are," Pearson said.
According to the American Bar Association Journal, the lawyer population has grown 6.6% from 2012 to 2022. The population of active Asian and Hispanic lawyers has grown in that decade. However, the Black lawyer population remains the same, at 5%.
"I'm disappointed when I hear those stats. To be honest, I don't like them," Pearson said. "But at the same time, that's why I wanted to do this."
Pearson says the YBLC events will give lawyers the opportunity to unbutton their jackets and know they can be themselves in this field.
"We have to have a community where we can come together and we feel safe, and I want Black attorneys, or Black students, or students that are aspiring to be lawyers, to know that there is going to be a place for them," Pearson said.
Attorneys Jada Bianca Anderson, Jasmine Gardner, Alisha Harris, Kaleigh Darty and Darrett Drayton make up the founding board of YBLC.