April 2, 2019
By Heather L. Rosing, President
and Jim Hill, Chair
From our January 2018 launch, the California Lawyers Association (CLA) has been deeply committed to the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion. A prominent component of our mission statement is to promote diversity of all types in the legal profession so that the attorneys in the State of California are best able to serve the population and help achieve justice for all.
Currently, our 16 Sections and our California Young Lawyers Association are actively reviewing applications from members to serve on their executive committees. This annual transition in section leadership causes us to reflect with pride on CLA’s organizational commitment to diversity. We were recently reminded that, early on in our existence, the board passed a resolution prioritizing diversity as a consideration in CLA’s leadership and staffing our many volunteer committees.
CLA’s Appointments Policy specifically addresses diversity in the appointments process. It provides that “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.
CLA’s policy further addresses the importance of participation of diverse members in CLA’s activities and outreach into the communities we touch: “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.”
As CLA’s inaugural president and chair, we have personally observed our board’s commitment to soliciting 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 leadership positions within CLA. CLA provides equal access to all applicants and complies with all applicable anti-discrimination laws in our appointment process.
On a broader level, CLA has an active committee on diversity, equity and inclusion, and many of the individual sections likewise have such efforts and subcommittees. The participating CLA leaders are not only refining our internal policies, but liaising with organizations across the state to discuss how CLA can contribute to the dialogue on diversity and, in particular, support diverse students who are considering entering the profession of law.
CLA is excited to continue on with our efforts in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, and we welcome participation from all of our members.