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Jamaican-American lawyer to head NJ law group

New Jersey lawyer Carolyn Chang being sworn in as president of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey in November.
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The Association of Black Women Lawyers (ABWL) of New Jersey has a new president.

New Jersey lawyer Carolyn Chang was elected for the post and sworn in as the head of the organization last month. Having spent more than two decades with the club and holding various titles, she is now eager to take on her new duties and says this appointment is a high point in her career.

“Taking on the role of president of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey is a tremendous amount of responsibility, however I have been involved in the organization for more than 25 years therefore this may well be a culmination of service to the organizati­on,” said Chang.

Her previously held titles with the group included South New Jersey representative, treasurer, and most recently vice president. Fully working her way up to the top, she is now going to head the association, and is ready to start working on her agenda. At the top of her list, is giving back to the Caribbean community.

“One of the first things I would like to tackle is related to providing more services to the Caribbean and migrant community. Services include hurricane relief efforts, which would positively impact several Caribbean islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Chang. “In addition to providing disaster relief efforts abroad, the association is also about educating the community regarding their legal rights. In the age of Trump, we would like to co-sponsor seminars with other Affinity Bars on immigration issues, such as ‘Know Your Rights.”

Achieving this feat took a lot of hard work and dedication, added Chang. She immigrated to the states with her siblings at 14 years old. She always knew she would study law, but adjusting to her new life took some time and that is something she knows immigrants encounter often and why she wants to ensure their assimilation.

“It should not be unusual for someone with my immigrant background to have as one of my goals service to New Jersey’s immigrant communities, especially Caribbean communities,” said Chang. “It makes sense for me to want to advance the issues which are important to the communities from which I came. Surely, it is important to give back to my own people who have given me so much of my core values.”

Chang added that she and several members of the group who are also of Caribbean descent, express a high interest in assisting other immigrants, and positioning them on a path to success just as they found.

“It is important that we give back to our communities. I attribute my work ethic and drive to the values instilled in me during my childhood in Jamaica,” she said. “I understand that it is upon the shoulders of so many others that I stand and this brings a responsibility to help others.”

As president of the association, Chang will be responsible for making policies for the board, implementing educational programs for the state, providing assistance for attorneys and students interested in studying law, and fund-raising to provide scholarships for law students with their annual fund-raiser. But another duty she is adding to her agenda is going abroad to help the Caribbean. Next spring the group will be taking their skill sets to her native home to provide some counsel for residents.

“The association will visit Jamaica for our annual retreat where we will conduct several continuing legal education seminars on issues relevant to the Jamaican community, such as illegal detention without charges, and the silence surrounding sexual assault of children,” said Chang. “It is my hope that these seminars will shed some light on the issues and begin a dialogue between lawyers of color here in the United States and lawyers in Jamaica.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 4:55 pm, December 6, 2017
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