OUR HISTORY AND PROGRAMS
"Just the Beginning" began as a celebration of the Integration of the Federal Judiciary on September 19, 1992, in Chicago, IL. The celebratory event entitled, "Just The Beginning - A Celebration of Integration of the Federal Judiciary" honored Judge James Parsons, the first African-American United States District Court Judge, on his retirement after devoting thirty-one years on the federal bench. Inspired by the events of that weekend, JTBF ® was founded as a not-for-profit organization of judges, lawyers, and other citizens dedicated to developing educational programs to inspire and foster careers in the law among students of color and from other underrepresented groups, from middle school through law school.
Today, JTBF continues this mission by offering pipeline programs directly aimed at inspiring young students and increasing diversity in the legal profession and judiciary. These programs include the Middle School and High School Summer Legal Institutes, an Advanced Summer Legal Institute, law student externships, law student scholarships, programming in schools that target under-served and minority high school and college students, and biennial conferences that bring together diverse legal leaders of local communities.
JTBF ® is a multiracial, nonprofit organization comprised of lawyers, judges, educators, academicians and other citizens that has served the legal community for nearly twenty years through education, mentorship and continual advocacy for diversity in the legal field. It is dedicated to developing and nurturing interest in the law among young persons from various socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds underrepresented in the legal profession and to supporting their continued advancement. By acting as a continual advocate for diversity and higher education, JTBF sustains a cycle of academic and professional achievement and role models for underserved communities with a high proportion of at-risk-students.
JTBF has partnered with the Chicago Area Law School Consortium, CLEO (Council on Legal Education Opportunities), Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, Chicago LegalTrek, Sidley Scholars, Scholarship Chicago, the Law School Admission Council and Chicago-Kent College of Law's PreLaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program, and a host of other pipeline organizations.