Spotlight on TaLona Holbert: Finalist for Chambers ‘Future Leaders – Minority Lawyers’
Stroock and its lawyers have been shortlisted for five Diversity & Inclusion Awards from Chambers USA this year. In this article, we profile TaLona Holbert, a finalist in the “Future Leaders — Minority Lawyers” category. Click here to see our other finalists.
In just her second year as a BigLaw associate, TaLona Holbert has already performed what is often a career’s worth of diversity and inclusion work.
TaLona is an accomplished pro bono counsel, volunteer and mentor, and she plays a leading role in Stroock’s inclusivity efforts. She’s also helping to shape fair-housing and other efforts through work with the New York City Bar Association, and she’s racking up a pile of honors in the process.
Meanwhile, her online networking is aimed in part at starting a movement.
In a widely shared LinkedIn post, TaLona raises awareness about the struggles attorneys of color face in dispelling stereotypes and being regarded as equals and professionals. The post aims to popularize the hashtags #SeeMe and #IBelong to help effect change in the legal industry.
“It can be hard for an attorney of color to be forthcoming about some of the experiences they encounter on the ascent in their careers,” she says. “If you’re one of the ones forging the path, I think it’s important to be transparent about the things you’ve encountered and let the next group stand on your shoulders moving forward.”
At the Office
TaLona is currently the Class of 2017 representative for Stroock’s Associates Committee. Through this leadership position, she works to ensure that diverse views are included in law firm decisionmaking.
She also remains active in Stroock’s Attorneys of Color Affinity Group, which she helped to lead during her first year as an associate.
In October, TaLona organized a Stroock fundraiser that provided over $8,500 to the True Colors Fund, which supports homeless LGBTQ youth. The fundraiser was a joint effort between Stroock’s Attorneys of Color and LGBTQ affinity groups.
TaLona also helped organize Stroock’s summer intern program with Legal Outreach, which prepares high school students from underserved communities in New York City to compete at high academic levels, build confidence and pursue higher education.
She met a high school sophomore through the program, and TaLona is now the student’s formal Legal Outreach mentor. The two now meet several times each month — recent outings include dinner at a French restaurant and a trip to see “Shen Yun” at Lincoln Center, in addition to academic work.
NYC Bar and Pro Bono
TaLona serves on the NYC Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Committee, which works for diversity and inclusion in the legal industry by addressing issues facing lawyers of color.
She’s also on the Housing & Urban Development Committee, which reviews legal and policy issues with an emphasis on affordable housing preservation and development.
TaLona is also a committed pro bono lawyer.
She regularly works with the Goddard Housing Clinic/CAAAV Housing Clinic to provide legal services to underserved New Yorkers regarding housing issues. CAAV specifically aims to serve the city’s low-income, pan-Asian immigrant and refugee communities.
She also regularly works with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Name-Change Project, which assists low-income transgender clients with name-change petitions.
Another regular pro bono client is Her Justice, which provides free legal services to low-income women in New York. TaLona recently secured an order of protection and full custody for a domestic abuse survivor.
Another of her pro bono partners, Safe Horizon, assists victims of domestic violence. TaLona recently helped to win a motion to quash a subpoena that sought intake records about a domestic abuse victim from Safe Horizon.
She also recently partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center on a brief to the Tennessee Court of Appeals seeking to alter the state’s parole policy, which, she argued, effectively equated a “life with parole” and a “life without parole” sentence.
TaLona is a recipient of the Top Ten Under Ten Alumni Award from Adelphi University. The award recognizes professional and community achievements less than 10 years out from graduation.
She was also the subject of a feature story in Adelphi’s alumni magazine, which documents her struggle from foster care through her undergraduate years and finally earning a full-tuition scholarship to law school.
TaLona recently spoke at Adelphi’s scholarship dinner, discussing her experiences as a former foster youth and how she hopes to forge a pipeline as an attorney of color.
She has also won first place in the 2017 New York University School of Law National Immigration Moot Court Competition, where she wrote a brief and gave several rounds of oral arguments regarding immigration rights.
She was also awarded Cardozo Law School’s 2017 Jacob Burns Medal for outstanding academic and professional achievement.
Congratulations to TaLona on this well-deserved recognition!
“Inside Look” is a new feature profiling Stroock and its lawyers.