ABA YLD’s Diversity Plan
By J. Phenise Poole
J. Phenise Poole is the ABA YLD Diversity Director and an Assistant Vice-President and Counsel with Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) is proud to be identified as an organization committed to diversity. As a key indicator of the Division’s commitment to diversity, the ABA YLD created a model Diversity Plan and continues to strengthen its commitment to diversity. Our model Diversity Plan exemplifies the Division’s commitment to ensuring that diversity is promoted throughout the profession and the Division. I encourage you to review and familiarize yourself with the ABA YLD’s Diversity Plan. The Diversity Plan is available on the Division website at www.abanet.org/yld/diversityplan.pdf .
The ABA YLD Diversity Plan is designed to ensure that members and leaders encourage and assist the full and equal participation of young lawyers regardless of race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. The ABA YLD acknowledges and recognizes that our strength and success is due, in large part, to the diversity that our membership brings.
As a further commitment to diversity, the ABA YLD has developed a Diversity Team comprised of several ABA YLD committees, ABA entities, minority bar associations, and specialty bar associations. Among the Diversity Team’s goals are to educate and to inform the Division about diversity initiatives. In so doing, it encourages partnerships, builds relationships, and fosters open lines of communication between the ABA YLD and other organizations.
Not only is the ABA YLD dedicated to promoting diversity within the legal profession, it is also committed to providing a forum for members to highlight their differences and share their experiences through various committees. These committees include the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Committee, the Minorities in the Profession Committee, and the Women in the Profession Committee.
In addition, the ABA YLD partners with various entities within the ABA to ensure that the voices of young lawyers are heard and that the ABA YLD stays informed about diversity efforts within the ABA. These entities include the Commission on Mental and Physical Disability, the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and the Commission on Women in the Profession.
Finally, the ABA YLD believes that it is important to partner with minority and specialty bar associations across the nation that share the common goals of ensuring and promoting diversity in the profession. As a result, representatives from the following national organizations are part of the ABA YLD’s Diversity Team: the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association. To further build relationships between the ABA YLD and other young lawyers from minority and specialty bar associations, this year’s leadership is committed to attending meetings and conferences with the Division’s national bar association partners.
The ABA YLD realizes that many individuals remain underrepresented in the legal profession and that more work needs to be done to reach the goal of a truly diverse profession. Earlier this year, during the 2008 Spring Conference, the Division hosted a Diversity Summit entitled, “Diversity: The Next Generation.” Young lawyers from across the country representing state, local, minority, and specialty bar associations gathered together to discuss how we can all work together to ensure that our profession reflects today’s society and also welcomes and encourages inclusion.
Young lawyers recognize that the legal profession is changing and that commitment to diversity should be more than just a business case. More than ever, we realize that diversity in our profession is important because the face of our national community is changing. The ABA YLD continues to work to make sure that young lawyers play an active role in shaping the future of our profession and our national community.
The Diversity Team encourages each of you to become active participants in the division’s diversity initiatives. As we continue on the journey too ensuring inclusion and representation of all young lawyers, we recognize that our success depends on the active participation of our members. Together, we can work to promote diversity and inclusion not only within our Division, but also within our law offices, courtrooms, corporate boardrooms, and beyond.
For information about diversity in the profession and the ABA YLD Diversity Plan, contact J. Phenise Poole, ABA YLD Diversity Director, at phenise.poole@53.com , or visit the diversity page on the ABA YLD website at www.abanet.org/yld/diversity.html.

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