California Lawyers Association

An Exciting Partnership to Change the World

image of Heather Rosing and Jim Hill
Heather Rosing and Jim Hill

May 2019

By Heather L. Rosing, President
and Jim Hill, Chair

Attorneys across the country join Bar Associations for different reasons. Many CLA members have joined one of our 16 terrific Sections because they want to advance professionally, make contributions to their areas of practice, and participate in cutting-edge programs and publications. Others went to law school and are active in Associations like CLA to contribute to social justice and advocate for forward thinking policy.  High on the list of concerns is the continuing lack of diversity among lawyers and judges and the challenges to Californians in accessing critical legal services on fundamental issues such as education, housing, and immigration.
 
California’s lack of diversity in the legal profession is particularly glaring given the make-up of the state’s population.  And, if we do not have diverse lawyers, we will not have a diverse bench, meaning that our population will be unable to see others like them when they appear in our courts. This leads to a breakdown in confidence that our legal system will in fact be fair for all. This problem has been recognized by policymakers, as evidenced by a May 14 informational hearing of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and the Asian Pacific Islander, Black, and Latino Legislative Caucuses of the California Legislature. The title – “How Can California Increase the Diversity of the Legal Profession and the Judiciary?” – asks the question that is on many of our minds. CLA, with our almost 100,000 members and leaders, is highly motivated to contribute to the dialogue.
 
One of the ways CLA is looking to amplify its efforts in the area is by partnering with an organization called California ChangeLawyers.  In 2015, this 501(c)(3) organization formerly known as California Bar Foundation (CBF) separated from the State Bar.  In 2018, after a thoughtful process to examine its mission and brand, CBF became known as ChangeLawyers. A statewide foundation, ChangeLawyers is deeply invested in the idea that lawyers are changemakers who can lead the charge in effectuating equity and inclusion in today’s world. As discussed on its new website, ChangeLawyers harnesses the power of future lawyers, judges, and activists to create a more diverse legal profession, a fair justice system, and a better California. CLA, as the largest statewide voluntary bar association in the Country, is well-positioned to partner with ChangeLawyers on these critical issues.
 
ChangeLawyers and CLA are natural partners in a shared mission – to increase access to justice for all Californians and to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession.  This is done through the promotion and support of diverse college and law students, the awarding of scholarships, the funding of fellowships, the support of legal services organizations, work on pipeline programs, and much more. The rich history and experience of both organizations means that, together, we can effectuate meaningful and impactful change. Please stay tuned for more about this exciting partnership and how you can become involved!

Attorneys across the country join bar associations for different reasons. Many CLA members have joined one of our 16 terrific Sections because they want to advance professionally, make contributions to their areas of practice and participate in cutting-edge programs and publications. Others went to law school and are active in associations like CLA to contribute to social justice and advocate for forward-thinking policy. High on the list of concerns is the continuing lack of diversity among lawyers and judges and the challenges to Californians in accessing critical legal services on fundamental issues such as education, housing and immigration.

California’s lack of diversity in the legal profession is particularly glaring given the makeup of the state’s population. And, if we do not have diverse lawyers, we will not have a diverse bench, meaning that our population will be unable to see others like them when they appear in our courts. This leads to a breakdown in confidence that our legal system will, in fact, be fair for all.

Policymakers recognize the problem, as evidenced by a May 14 informational hearing of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and the Asian Pacific Islander, Black, and Latino Legislative Caucuses of the California Legislature. The title – “How Can California Increase the Diversity of the Legal Profession and the Judiciary?” – asks the question that is on many of our minds. CLA, with our almost 100,000 members and leaders, is highly motivated to contribute to the dialogue.

One of the ways CLA is looking to amplify its efforts in the area is by partnering with an organization called California ChangeLawyers. In 2015, this 501(c)(3) organization formerly known as California Bar Foundation (CBF) separated from the State Bar. In 2018, after a thoughtful process to examine its mission and brand, CBF became known as ChangeLawyers. A statewide foundation, ChangeLawyers is deeply invested in the idea that lawyers are changemakers who can lead the charge in effectuating equity and inclusion in today’s world. As discussed on its new website, ChangeLawyers harnesses the power of future lawyers, judges and activists to create a more diverse legal profession, a fair justice system and a better California. CLA, as the largest statewide voluntary bar association in the country, is well-positioned to partner with ChangeLawyers on these critical issues.

ChangeLawyers and CLA are natural partners in a shared mission – to increase access to justice for all Californians and to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the profession. This is done through the promotion and support of diverse college and law students, the awarding of scholarships, the funding of fellowships, the support of legal services organizations, work on pipeline programs, and much more. The rich history and experience of both organizations means that together, we can effectuate meaningful and impactful change. Please stay tuned for more about this exciting partnership and how you can become involved!

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