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California Lawyers Association

Initiatives Toolkit: Issues to Consider re: Creating Section Diversity Plans

For a PDF version of this document, click here.

1. What is the section trying to achieve? What are the section’s specific goals?

  • Increase diversity in that segment/practice area of the bar in general;
  • Increase diversity in the section in general;
  • Increase participation and engagement of diverse members in section activities;
  • Create a pipeline from law school to practice;
  • All of the above.

2. What policies currently exist?

CLA Appointments Policy specifically addresses diversity in the appointments process in Sections 2.1 – 2.3.

Specifically, it is the policy of the Association to encourage the opportunity of all its members to participate in activities of the Sections and CYLA, and to achieve a diversified membership and diversified leadership.

The policy defines diversity as follows: geography, type of practice, size of practice, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation and length of time in practice.

The policy further addresses participation of diverse members:

The Association values diversity and broad-based representation in its appointments. The recruitment and selection of applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, outlooks, ideas and geographical diversity brings qualities essential to the legal profession and to the services the Association provides to its diverse members and to the public.

The Board is committed to the active solicitation and encouragement of members with a broad array of backgrounds and life experiences, including members with skills or attributes that are underrepresented in the legal profession, to submit applications for appointments to all Association sponsored entities. The Association provides equal access to all applicants and complies with all applicable anti-discrimination laws in its appointment process.

3. What other guidance is needed or advisable?

  • CLA’s Diversity Committee is working on a set of diversity policies that will further address leadership pathways, diversity in educational panels and diversity in publications and is a resource for sections;
  • Ellen Miller, CLA’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives, is a resource for sections (Ellen.Miller@calawyers.org);
  • Other sections may also have suggestions on what has worked or what hasn’t worked.

4. What efforts or programs currently exist to support the diversity goals?

For Law Students:

  • Does the section offer a diversity fellowship program or internships?
  • Does the section partner with student diversity/affinity/identify groups?
  • Does the section speak at law schools? For Lawyers:
  • Does the section attend or partner with diversity bar associations to encourage awareness or create a pipeline?
  • Does the section offer other outreach programs?
  • Does the section offer educational programming that addresses diversity?
  • Does the section publish articles and resources that addresses diversity?
  • Does the section offer a mentoring program that includes a diversity component?
  • Does the section have a leadership outreach committee that encourages diverse attorneys to participate and engage in section activities? For the Section Executive Committees:
  • Does the section have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer or lead Ex Comm member?
  • Does the section have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee?

5. What efforts or programs need to be established to support the diversity goals?

If none of the above are offered, could these efforts or programs support the section’s diversity goals?

6. How will the section obtain demographic data to support its diversity goals and how will the section measure success?

  • Do leadership applications, CLE or article submission forms need to be modified to capture important information and address that diversity is a goal?
  • How will the section track this information in general?

7. What other systems need to be in place to create success?

  • Does the section have access or information about diverse lawyers who can participate in section activities?
  • If not, what outreach can the section do to encourage diverse lawyers to participate?

8. What timelines are reasonable for each goal?

  • 12-36 months are reasonable timelines per goal to establish an effort or program and measure success.

9. How will the section share and report on success?

  • Will there be an annual diversity report published?
  • Will an article be placed in section publication(s)?
  • What else can be done to share success?

10. Creating a Diversity Plan

Once these issues have been addressed, they can easily be summarized in a section diversity plan:

  • Include timelines to demonstrate accountability;
  • Plans institutionalize the efforts for future section leadership, provide baseline data and help prevent unnecessary duplication.

11. Next Steps:

Ellen Miller is available to assist:

  • Drafting section diversity plans;
  • Facilitating section discussions or planning sessions;
  • Working with and/or providing guidance to section diversity committees;
  • Reaching out to external bar associations and other diversity stakeholders.

She can be reached at Ellen.Miller@calawyers.org or 916-873-6809.

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