PCM Sponsors Texas A&M BLSA Scholarships and Awards Dinner

By Michelle Connell, CFA | 4 min read

Portia Capital Management is passionate about supporting minority and disadvantaged youth and helping them move beyond their economic circumstances. In keeping with this mission, it has been our pleasure to sponsor the Texas A&M Black Law Students Association scholarships and awards banquet for two years.

The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) is an organization that exists to “promote the professional needs and goals of Black law students; to foster and encourage professional competence; to focus upon the relationship of the Black attorney to the American legal system; to instill in the Black attorney and law student a greater awareness of and commitment to the need of the community; to utilize their expertise to initiate a change within the legal system that will make it more responsive to the needs and concerns of the Black community; and to do any and all things necessary and lawful for the accomplishment of these goals.” The Texas A&M Black Law Student Association works to realize the goals listed above in the local legal community and to “inspire minority youth about the possibility of a legal career.”

It has been a true privilege of mine to support this organization as they encourage and inspire more minority students to join the legal profession in an effort to close the gap among minority groups represented in the Texas State Bar.

In the U.S., nearly 40 percent of the population is minority, or non-white. In Texas, about 30 percent of the population is of a minority race. Even in 2019, people of non-white racial and ethnic backgrounds are still playing catch up when it comes to equal opportunity in education and careers. In the legal profession, minorities represent a growing segment of attorneys in Texas, but the disparity remains.

In 1993, just eight percent of attorneys licensed in Texas were minorities. From 2000 to 2010, the State Bar of Texas minority population grew twice as fast as the rate of the state of Texas minority population. Over the last 10 years, the number of racial/ethnic minority attorneys in Texas has increased by 69 percent. Despite this growth, minorities represent just 21 percent of the State Bar in 2019, and just six percent of attorney members of the State Bar of Texas are Black/African-American.

Statistics also show that a vast majority of minority attorneys in Texas work in smaller firms than their non-minority peers. In 2011, 71 percent of racial/ethnic minority attorneys worked in firms with five or fewer attorneys, while only 60 percent of all private practitioners work in small firms. Forty-four percent of minority attorneys are sole practitioners, compared to 36 percent of all Texas State Bar attorneys.

Though there has been much growth in minority representation in the legal profession, there is still more progress to be made. The NBLSA and local chapters are doing great work to encourage this progress and growth and it is an honor to support the Texas A&M BLSA chapter.

One year ago, I met Sara Vargas, Texas A&M BLSA President and Enrica Martley, Vice President at a local Starbucks. The two were studying for their second year exams. It has been a true privilege to encourage these young women on their journey to successful legal careers. From Portia Capital Management, we wish all 2019 BLSA graduates the very best as they become agents of change for the legal profession in Texas and beyond.

Statistics from the Texas State Bar.

About the Author

Michelle Connell, CFA is the President and Owner of Portia Capital Management, LLC., the only registered investment management firm in the Dallas/Fort Worth area owned by a female Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). The CFA designation is considered the highest designation in the investment management profession, and fewer than three percent of all CFAs in Texas are women. Ms. Connell is also one of highest-rated finance professors in the United States, currently serving as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas and instructing CFA candidates through the CFA DFW Society. For her clients —  including the underserved markets charities, foundations and high-net worth women — Ms. Connell crafts personalized solutions that include conventional products as well as rare access to alternative assets, including private equity, private debt and real estate, and allows investment portfolio creation with greater downside protection and more consistent returns. Through her philanthropic initiative, “Portia’s Children,” 10 percent of the firm’s profits are donated to charities working to improve the lives of children of single-parent homes.

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