B. Diversity and Inclusion: Definitions and Personal Actions

The following points are intended to facilitate a discussion to develop a deeper consciousness about diversity and inclusion, and to invite personal actions to support diversity and inclusion.

  1. Discuss the meaning of diversity and inclusion. Diversity means difference. Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs. Inclusion is the capacity to include difference. Inclusion involves promoting and sustaining a sense of belonging, valuing and empowering differences, and respecting the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, ways of living and working. Inclusion requires deliberate action. It does not matter what your intentions, feelings, beliefs, or aspirations are as an individual or as a group if there is no action to support them.
    1. What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?
    2. What does diversity and inclusion mean to you within the context of your role as a lawyer?
    3. Do you see diversity and inclusion as sources of value for your professional life? If so, provide examples of how diversity and inclusion have added value. If not, why not?
  2. Read the American Bar Association’s Report: Diversity in the Legal Profession: The Next Steps[1] and discuss the ABA’s rationales for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession:
    1. Democracy Rationale (page 9)
      1. Why do lawyers and judges have a unique responsibility for sustaining a political system with broad participation by all its citizens?
      2. How does a diverse bar and bench create greater trust in the mechanisms of government and the rule of law?
    2. Business Rationale (page 9) – Given that business entities are rapidly responding to the needs of global customers, suppliers, and competitors by creating workforces from many different backgrounds, perspectives, skill sets, and tastes, how are culturally and linguistically proficient lawyers better able to serve their clients?
    3. Leadership Rationale (page 10) – Given that individuals with law degrees often possess the communication and interpersonal skills and the social networks to rise into civic leadership positions, both in and out of politics, why is it important that law school enrollment become more broadly inclusive?
    4. Demographic Rationale (page 10) – The legal profession is about 90% Caucasian and has always been the majority in representation.
      1. What are the issues for the legal profession given the population shift of Caucasians becoming a racial/ethnic minority by 2042?
      2. What are the opportunities and challenges to advancing diversity and inclusion for attorneys in the following groups: large law firms, government agencies/judiciary, corporate general counsel offices, medium-size and small firms and solo practitioners, minority-owned firms, women, LGBT, and disabled attorney-owned firms?
  3. Discuss some of your own personal actions to support diversity and inclusion. In addition to system and organizational initiatives, diversity and inclusion comes about through individual acts of inclusion. There are daily opportunities to make a difference in your own and someone else’s life. Every human interaction is an opportunity for an act of inclusion. The list below provides a few ideas for personal actions:
    1. Witness your own diversity sensitivity and be aware of its impact on others;
    2. Make a conscious effort to learn about others who are different than you;
    3. Engage in a range of experiences with others who are different than you;
    4. Listen actively for other frames of reference and do not prejudge;
    5. Seek to understand and adapt to different styles when working with others;
    6. Become flexible to change the way you do things to meet the needs of others;
    7. Embrace diversity as a resource to benefit business and co-workers;
    8. Encourage and capitalize on the diverse contributions and strengths of your team members;
    9. Practice inclusive behaviors in groups and intervene sensitively when exclusionary behaviors occur;
    10. Get involved in organizations that promote diversity and inclusion;
    11. Challenge prejudice and injustice;
    12. Increase your awareness of the personal attitudes and beliefs about members of your own and others’ social identity group;
    13. Learn about different styles of conflict resolution and monitor your own preferred conflict management style and be aware of its impact on others;
    14. Step up and manage conflicts over differences when they ariserather than avoiding them; and
    15. Advocate to treat people fairly and to accommodate differences in all spheres of life, i.e., personal, social, professional and the wider community.

RESOURCES:

Books/Publications/Websites:

ABA’s Diversity in the Legal Profession: The Next Steps: http://tinyurl.com/mt5gd2b.

CLI’s Beyond Diversity: Inclusiveness in the Legal Workplacehttp://www.legalinclusiveness.org/.

Harvard Implicit [Bias] Association Test:  https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit.

ABA Commission on Women in the Profession’s From Visible Invisibility to Visibly Successful: Success Strategies for Law Firms and Women of Color in Law Firms (2007-2008): http://tinyurl.com/burpuqa.

ABA Commission on Women in the Profession (Women of Color Research Initiative) Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Fortune 500 Legal Departments (2011-2012) Embracing the Opportunities for Increasing Diversity into the Legal Profession: Collaborating to Expand the Pipeline: http://tinyurl.com/k89vp23.

Moving Diversity Forward: How to Go from Well-Meaning to Well-Doing: http://movingdiversityforward.com/?page_id=635.

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) 2009 Diversity Best Practices Guide: http://www.nalp.org/uploads/DiversityBPGuide09.pdf.

“The Next IQ: The Next Level of Intelligence for 21st Century Leaders” by Arin N. Reeves. 

“What If I Say the Wrong Thing” 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People by Verna A. Myers: http://movingdiversityforward.com/?page_id=17.

Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP) Mentoring Resource Center can be found on the CAMP website: http://mentoringcolorado.org/mentoring-resources/mentoring-literature.

“Microinequities: When Small Slights Lead to Huge Problems in the Workplace”, by Eric Huton, Diversity Inc (May 22, 2003).

Nicola M. Pless and Thomas Maak, Building an Inclusive Diversity Culture: Principles, Processes and Practice, JOURNAL OF BUSINESS ETHICS 54, 129-147 (2004): http://diversity.cofc.edu/journal-articles/building-an-inclusive-diversity-culture.

On Being a Black Lawyer: http://www.onbeingablacklawyer.com.

National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms: http://www.namwolf.org.

ORGANIZATIONS:

American Bar Association (ABA): Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity http://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity.html
Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA) http://apaba-colorado.org/
Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (ALFDP) http://alfdp.com/
Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI) http://www.centerforlegalinclusiveness.org/
Chief Justice Commission on the Legal Profession http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Supreme_Court/Committees/Committee.cfm?Committee_ID=35
Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP) http://mentoringcolorado.org/
Colorado Bar Association’s Committee for Balanced Legal Careers http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/21185/dpadm/2020-Law-Firm-Initiative-Committee/
Colorado Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Bar Association (GLBT) http://www.coloradoglbtbar.org
Colorado Hispanic Bar Association (CHBA) http://www.chba.net/
Colorado Indian Bar Association (CIBA) http://www.coloradoindianbar.org/
Colorado Pledge to Diversity Legal Group
Colorado Women’s Bar Association (CWBA) http://www.cwba.org/
Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee (DILP) http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20105/CMIP/Diversity-in-the-Legal-Profession/
Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) http://www.hnba.com/
Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) http://www.lcldnet.org/
Mile High Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) http://www.milehighala.com/
Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) http://www.mcca.com/index.cfm?
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) http://www.napaba.org/napaba/showpage.asp?code=home
National Association for Law Placement (NALP): Diversity & Inclusion Section http://www.nalp.org/diversity
National Bar Association (NBA) http://www.nationalbar.org/
National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) http://www.nativeamericanbar.org/
Nextions http://www.nextions.com/
Sam Cary Bar Association (serving African-American attorneys) (SCBA) http://samcarybar.net/
South Asian Bar Association  (SABA) http://www.sabanorthamerica.com/
South Asian Bar Association of Colorado https://www.facebook.com/saba.colorado
Spanish-Speaking Lawyers Committee http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/21383/CSPAN/Spanish-Lawyering/
The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) http://theiilp.com/

CONFERENCES: 

ALFDF Conference: http://alfdp.com/conferences/upcoming-conferences/.

CLI’s Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit: http://www.centerforlegalinclusiveness.org/initiatives/legal-inclusiveness-diversity-summit/.

Law School Diversity Professionals: http://law.fiu.edu/eighth-annual-meeting-of-law-school-diversity-professionals/.

MCCA’s Academy for Leadership and Inclusion: http://www.mcca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&PageID=2278.

National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations: http://ncwba.org/.

NALP’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit: www.nalp.org/events.‎

OPUS X Conference: An Ongoing Discussion about Race & Ethnicity in Large Law Firms: http://opusxconference.info.


[1] The American Bar Association’s Report: Diversity in the Legal Profession: The Next Steps provides the foundation for a facilitated discussion to increase awareness about diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. The report states that despite efforts thus far, racial and ethnic groups, sexual and gender minorities, and lawyers with disabilities continue to be vastly underrepresented in the legal profession. The legal profession is less racially diverse than most other professions, and racial diversity has slowed considerably. The overarching message of the ABA report is a diverse legal profession is more just, productive and intelligent because diversity, both cognitive and cultural, often leads to better questions, analyses, solutions, and processes.

Comments are closed.