By Mark Bryant | Special to the OBSERVER

The Wiley Manuel Bar Association will be conducting this fundraising event for law student scholarships for the first time in two years. It will be held Thursday October 27  in Old Sacramento at the Firehouse Restaurant. 

Legal Fusion last had an in-person event in 2019. In 2020, it was held as a Zoom video conference only. In 2021, it was canceled because of the COVID pandemic.

WMBA has existed since 1977 when it was organized as the Sacramento Association of Black Attorneys. It was later renamed in honor of Justice Wiley William Manuel, the first Black justice of the California Supreme Court. 

The three main goals of WMBA are enhancing access to justice, impacting the diversity pipeline into the legal profession, and addressing the needs of the Black community in the Sacramento region, said President Ryan Harrison. “The demographics of lawyers in California need to reflect the demographics of California. This is fairness and public safety at stake.” 

The event will feature law school scholarship award winners being announced. In addition, community leaders will be honored for outstanding service. This year, the event will also feature live music instead of a keynote speaker. 

“Because we haven’t had this in two years, we want this to be more of a party atmosphere,” said Harrison. 

Congressman Ami Bera is also scheduled to attend and give a statement. 

There will be a cocktail hour at 5 PM. The program will begin at 6 PM with Bera speaking, followed by live music and continuing with the law school scholarship award winners. More award presentations and acceptance speeches will follow. President Harrison will wrap up the event with closing remarks. 

Harrison added that the main goal of Legal Fusion is to inspire youth to seek a career in the legal field.

“I want to see students–high school and college–intermingle with judges and lawyers, and I want to see them sell themselves to the legal profession. They will hit rough patches. What will see them through is the belief that this profession is for them. They will have a network to lean on to become successful,” Harrison said.