California Lawyers Association
Common Questions about CLA Appointment Policies and Procedures
Revised eff. 01/19/2023
How and when was CLA’s Appointment Policies and Procedures revised?
At the direction of CLA’s Board of Representatives (“Board”), CLA’s DEI Committee drafted revisions to the appointments policy that will ensure leadership roles within Section Executive Committees (“ExComs”) and CLA Committees are diverse moving forward. The policy was discussed and refined over the course of more than two years before being unanimously adopted by the Board of Representatives in January 2023. Click here to see the full text of the revised policy.
When do the revisions go into effect?
The revised policy went into effect immediately upon adoption by the CLA Board (i.e., January 19, 2023). The policy sets an ambitious but achievable goal of reaching compliance within five years of adoption (i.e., 2028).
What revisions were made to the Appointment Policies and Procedures?
In brief, three substantial revisions were implemented regarding criteria for appointment:
- The list of diverse characteristics and identities of the applicants was revised to prioritize diversifying qualities (see §4.2) with minor updates applied to the previous list of diversifying qualities (see §4.5);
- All Association leadership bodies (e.g., ExComs and Committees) will take affirmative steps to reach a goal of reflecting the racial and gender diversity in California’s population within five years of adoption of the revised policy (see §4.3); and
- Demographic information of all CLA leadership bodies will be tracked and evaluated annually (see end of §4).
How will diversity be measured?
The goal of the Appointment Policies and Procedures is to ensure that ExComs and CLA Committees achieve at least 50% gender parity and 50% racial parity; these are two separate benchmarks which will be measured independently. For the purposes of this policy one (1) person may qualify or be counted for more than one (1) enumerated benchmark (see §4.3).
The demographic composition of each ExCom and CLA Committee will be evaluated to establish a demographic benchmark in 2023 and will continue to be analyzed annually (see end of §4).
What if my ExCom or Committee doesn’t meet the demographic goals set by the Appointment Policies and Procedures?
Successful attainment with the policy goal will be evaluated annually offering ExComs and Committees insight as to how they are performing and how they may want to apply themselves in the next appointment cycle. The first year compliance is expected across ExComs and Committees will be 2028 (i.e., five years following adoption of the revised policy).
This policy does not intend to discourage or prevent committee service by anyone, regardless of race or gender. The goal is to have the Association leadership roles reflect the racial and gender diversity of California’s population.
How can my ExCom or Committee recruit more diverse participants?
The best way to recruit member leaders is by personal and direct outreach. Be intentional about seeking member leaders from diverse backgrounds. There are a variety of activities individuals and ExComs or Committees can undertake independently or in collaboration with CLA’s DEI Committee, including but not limited to:
- Become a member of one or several affinity bar associations across the state for opportunities to better understand and directly interact with diverse communities of practitioners.
- Attend events of affinity bar associations to make connections with diverse practitioners; follow up with them directly encouraging them to apply for appointment.
- If a webinar went well and included a diverse panelist, consider following up with them directly to thank them for their participation and encourage them to apply for appointment.
- Place an ad in the recurring publications of affinity bar associations and/or the dinner books of annual galas and dinners.
- If you are in a medium or large firm setting, join or interact with affinity staff coalitions to better understand and directly interact with diverse colleagues. When the time is right, connect with them directly to encourage them to apply for appointment.
- Review the bylaws of your ExCom or Committee to identify language which may intentionally or inadvertently limit participation by newer professionals and diverse individuals.
- For example, if more than 10 years of experience as a licensed practitioner is required, think critically about if/how that requirement serves the ExCom or Committee. Could the ExCom’s or Committee’s needs be satisfied without a minimum experience threshold or perhaps have a ceiling on the number of less experienced professionals who may participate?
- For example, if no more than one individual from a given law firm is permitted to participate on the ExCom or Committee at a time, that may limit opportunities to organically and conveniently network and recruit among your law firm peers. Could the ExCom or Committee conduct its business effectively with more than one individual from the same law firm? Are there alternative roles you could create or safeguards to implement for success and meaningful participation?
What if my ExCom or Committee meets the demographic goals early?
If your ExCom or Committee achieves the benchmarks set in the policy early (i.e., prior to 2028), that’s great news and something worth celebrating. However, due to regular turnover among ExCom and Committee participants, attainment of the demographic goals will continue to be a priority annually.
Why was the Appointment Policies and Procedures revised as it was?
CLA’s first Strategic Plan (adopted in March 2022) consists of six pillars, one of which is to “Champion diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the California legal community through training, advocacy, affinity bar partnerships and education to positively impact the future of the profession.” CLA’s DEI Committee was charged by the CLA Board to consider revisions which would not only align with and further the strategic plan, but also to make CLA a more inclusive and accessible organization to ALL California attorneys.
The DEI Committee believes it is important to first consider the diverse characteristics of individuals, in the interest of pursuing racial and gender diversity and inclusion, before qualities like geographic location, practice setting, etc.; the Board agreed unanimously.
The population of California licensees is changing each year with more than half of all new licensees identifying as women (since about 2015) and more than half identifying as persons of color (starting in 2019) per The State Bar of California’s 2022 Diversity Report Card. The benchmarks set in the policy will help CLA keep up with the direction of our legal community and demonstrate that CLA is the association where ALL California attorneys belong.
Are there resources or programs that my ExCom or Committee can review or attend to help us meet the demographic goals?
The DEI Committee will offer a CLA-wide workshop to explain the policy and answer questions. In addition, the DEI committee is available to attend any ExCom or Committee meeting to present, explain, and answer questions about the revised policy. To invite the DEI Committee to join you for a presentation or meeting, contact us at Initiatives@calawyers.org.