National Bar Association’s Associate Advancement Academy For Excellence

The National Bar Association (NBA), Arnold & Porter, and the Arnold & Porter Foundation are committed to addressing retention issues in the nation’s largest law firms (e.g., the AmLaw 200 law firms).  To that end, the NBA has entered into a partnership with Arnold & Porter and the Arnold & Porter Foundation (collectively, “A&P”) to develop and implement a program specifically intended to facilitate the retention and advancement of Black attorneys in AmLaw 200 firms.  As part of the partnership, NBA is proud to announce the development of the NBA Associate Advancement Academy for Excellence!  The NBA Association Advancement Academy for Excellence is a tailored career advancement experience for Black associates within the first 3 years of practice in an AmLaw 200 firm, developed with the support of NBA’s Minority Partners in Majority Firms Division, Young Lawyer Division, Commercial Law Section and Corporate Law Section.

About the NBA Associate Advancement Academy for Excellence

The NBA Associate Advancement Academy for Excellence (“NBA Advancement Academy” or “Academy”) is specifically intended to facilitate the advancement and retention of Black attorneys in the nation’s largest law firms.  The Academy, which will run annually from July 1st to June 30th of each year, includes educational, networking, mentoring, and pro bono/community service components tailored to advance the careers of Black attorneys within the first 3 years of practice in an AmLaw 200 firm. The Academy will cover a range of topics integral to successful advancement in law firm practice, including the following:

  • Anatomy of a Big Law Firm
  • Navigating a Law Firm and Capitalizing on Firm Professional Staff
  • Legal Research & Writing Skills
  • Accounting 101 & Corporate Basics
  • The Art of Business Development
  • The Clients: In-House Legal Perspectives
  • Building your Brand-Externally
  • Building your Brand-Internally
  • The NBA & Using Your Legal Skills to Benefit the Black Community
  • Wellness (physical and mental)
  • Doing Well While Doing Good (successfully integrating pro bono/service into firm practice and as a tool for training and building your brand)

Academy participants, (“NBA Associate Advancement Academy for Excellence Fellows” and “Fellows”), will participate in monthly educational and networking sessions, monthly mentoring check-ins with a law firm partner mentor and corporate counsel mentor, respectively, and various NBA events throughout the year.  In particular, Fellows will be expected to commit to the following:

  • Attend a monthly virtual professional development session
  • Mentoring check-ins with NBA law firm partner mentor and corporate mentor
  • Attendance at the following NBA Events:

The 2022-2023 cohort will include 20 associates, with no more than two associates from any one firm.

How to Apply

Applicant Materials

Each applicant must submit the following materials by May 15, 2023:

  1. NBA Associate Advancement Academy Application – Applicant Form
  2. NBA Associate Advancement Academy Application – Firm Support Certification 
  3. Statement from Firm Managing Partner, Office Managing Partner, or your Practice Group Chair explaining why the firm recommends you for the Academy (no more than 250 words)
  4.  Current Resume
  5. Letter of Interest detailing why you want to be a participant in the Academy

The application materials should be submitted as one pdf to: AAACADEMY@NATIONALBAR.ORG


For more information about the Academy, please contact us at

About the National Bar Association

The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges.  It represents the interests of approximately 66,000 lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students.  The NBA is organized around 23 substantive law sections, 10 divisions, 12 regions, and over 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world, including the Young Lawyer Division, Minority Partners in Majority Firms Division, Commercial Law Section, and Corporate Law Section.  The NBA has a relationship with several corporate sponsors.

Interested in serving as a mentor for the Academy?  Please click here to submit your information.


The academy has been a great experience so far! My favorite parts have been the Corporate Counsel Conference and the mentoring relationships. This academy has catalyzed networking with other Black attorneys, as you can automatically add the other fellows to your network as you get to know them. I’m excited to continue getting to know each other and grow in our careers together.

The Academy has been a surreal experience thus far. It has exposed me to the legal community in ways I never thought possible so early in my career. It has put me in rooms I would not have otherwise been invited to as a junior associate. This experience has made me realize my value in the legal profession as a whole. Thank you to everyone who made this Academy and experience possible. 

The NBA Associate Advancement Academy has proven to be a crucial program for younger associates of color who are still learning how to behave and operate successfully in a big law firm. My time as a fellow has provided me with tools to think critically about how to create value for myself while in a big law firm. 

For me, the most invaluable part of the Academy has been the ability to be in such an inclusive group of big law associates who understand the strains of performing at a high level while managing the constant fear of not belonging. As law firms continue to work on improving diversity and inclusion initiatives, it is good to know that there is a space that doesn’t require the added layer of code-switching to feel included. I am proud to have been one of the amazing individuals chosen to be a member of the inaugural class of the Academy. I look forward to sharing my experiences with other associates and seeing the good works to be performed by the NBA.

This is an incredible program that I am forever grateful to have participated in.  Our monthly sessions always left me feeling empowered and ready to tackle the next challenge.  I have also been blessed to have two world-class mentors, who have dedicated more time to me than their busy schedules allow.  Through meeting with my mentors, I have received one-on-one coaching on how to build my book of business while also learning how to continue growing as a lawyer. If you are a young and ambitious associate, you should absolutely apply for this academy!