The MOU between NYSBA and NBA Women Forum: A Mission to Empower Women in the Legal Profession

Last week, the Women Forum of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and the New York State Bar Association, NYSBA, through its Women-in-Law Section signed a Memorandum of Understanding, (MOU) in a bid to achieve its common goal of empowering women in the profession by exchanging information as it relates to women’s rights and mentoring women lawyers amongst others.

What will the MOU involve?

The Memorandum of understanding (MOU) – will involve the joint implementation of initiatives to advance and empower women in the legal profession and all women under the law, for success. The MOU between the two associations was signed last Thursday during a virtual ceremony.

“It is my honour to continue to expand upon NYSBA’s ambitious plan to connect and create relationships with bar associations and legal organizations around the world,” said NYSBA President Scott Karson. “During these uncertain times, I believe that alliances such as this are more important and meaningful than ever.

“The NBA Women Forum and NYSBA’s Women in Law Section will work together to advance women in the profession, recognize the importance of women’s issues around the world, and exchange information and materials as they relate to women’s legal rights,” Karson said.

He said the NYSBA is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation, adding that since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

Paul Usoro, President Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) congratulated Chairperson, NBAWF, Oluyemisi Bamgbose and her team for making the occasion happen.

Usoro explained that Nigeria, which has the largest economy and population in Africa is a good place to have the collaboration, especially as it has population of women and children.

He assured that the prospects for commercial and transactional law practice are great and the collaboration will benefit the two associations.

“Nigerian lawyers number over 125,000. The profession used to be largely male dominated but that has changed now. In recent years, Nigeria has had a female Chief Justice and is one of the best the country has produced. The federal court of Appeal is preceded over by a female justice and she took over from another female justice.

“The profession has continued to encourage gender balance. Oluyemisi Bamgbose, the chairperson of NBAWF is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. She has the intellect and drive. In the past couple of months, she has proved that women are not only behind the men to support them but are also in front of them. She has piloted the forum to a point where we are all signing the MOU today.

“The NBAWF was domant for some years but when I came into office, I revived the the it because I know women play a viral role in productivity and efficiency. The NBAWF look forward to learning a lot from the Women in Law NYSBA,” he said.

Terri Mazur, chairperson Women in Law, NYSBA said it was such a honour to participate in the MOU signing, adding that NYSBA is excited and proud about this.

Mazur said the collaboration the association expects from the MOU is quite exciting as it looks forward to working with NBAWF.

” Issues affecting women are discussed here. Gender equality issues, domestic voilence and several other issues have been addressed over the years. We have grown tremendously in a space of two years. We are pleased to add Nigeria to our International membership.

“We wish you advance women issues all over the world. We also develop educational and informative programmes for women. Some of these programmes are educational advancement programmes in legal profession, programmes for women mediators, arbitrators and women judiciaries. We have several awards which recognises women lawyers that are exceptional and women who have made contributions in addressing issues around women,” she said.

Oluyemisi Bamgbose, Chairperson, NBAWF said NBAWF is one of the fora inaugurated by NBA in December 2006 to empower female lawyers but sadly the forum had not been active for some years.

Bamgbose however disclosed that the
forum was revived by Paul Usoro, the current NBA president who in September 2019 inaugurated the new leadership of the NBAWF.

She said the resuscitation of the forum was done along with Usoro’s vision to increase active participation of women in NBA and to empower and equip women in the legal profession.

She said the aim of the forum is also in line with the sustainability development goal to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls globally.

“With this forum, we have been able to establish a working group to tackle domestic voilence and work-life balance as it partains to female lawyers. We promote mentorship programmes for female lawyers. Today is a very significant day and we believe the outcome of this MOU will be very impactful and long lasting,” Bamgbose said.

The incoming NBA president of the association Olumide Akpata, gave credit to Paul Usoro and his team for reviving this very important forum.

Akpata said the opportunities of such great collaborations potend a lot.

He assured that under his watch everything must be done to ensure his women colleagues take centre stage.

“This is also important for me. I will support the NBAWF and I am sure those elected with me will ensure this is done. One thing that is important for our women is capacity building and we will achieve this,” Akpata said.

Editor’s note: Developing women lawyers sends a message that they are valued and the association is willing to invest in them as people. Times are uncertain as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic — creating opportunities for women in the legal profession to adjust and thrive has become even more pertinent. Empowerment simply counts.

More photos from the ceremony


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