MIAMI – On June 16, 2008, the Wilkie D Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association held its officers and directors installation. Michele Samaroo, born in London to Guyanese parents, was installed as president for a 1-year term.
Ms. Samaroo is currently with GEICO Staff Counsel.
South Florida Caribbean news recently had an opportunity to talk person-to-person Ms. Samaroo.
SFLCN: How long have you resided in South Florida?
Michele Samaroo [MS]: Since 1982.
SFLCN: What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish during your term?
MS: We have only had preliminary discussions regarding our plans for the year. The board will meet in August to finalize our agenda. On a personal level, I have two main objectives. The first is to find ways to unify the various minority bar associations. Our strength comes from a unified voice and unified action, not from competing with each other for members and financial support. We need to move away from splintering along “national lines”. We need to seek opportunities to support each other’s platforms and agendas for the good of the entire community, regardless of nationality.
SFLCN: What is the second objective?
MS: I would like to see our bar association become more involved in community-based programs, especially programs that directly impact children and youth. Too many of our young people are entering the juvenile system. We need to have programs that educate them about the impact of their choices.
SFLCN: What in your opinion is the greatest challenge minority lawyers face today?
MS: Our obstacles are not as obvious as they once were. However, if you look at the the power elite i.e. those who actually have hiring power, very few are lawyers of color. We must always keep in mind that we are required to be twice as good to get half as far. Without unity, nobody will pay attention to our complaints of prejudice or disparate treatment. Without an organization willing to fight for us, firms or government entities will know there are no consequences to their actions.
SFLCN: What would you do to bring more unity among Caribbean Nationals in South Florida?
MS: Whereas, it is important to maintain and celebrate heritage and culture we must remember we are part of a larger community. I would like to fully understand the needs of Caribbean Attorneys in South Florida, so that we may incorporate services or programs into our agenda to better serve them.
Ms. Samaroo can be reached at [email protected].