Vol. 40, No. 1

State Bar of California offers diversity DVD free to bar associations, legal services offices

by Marilyn Cavicchia

A seasoned African American lawyer, widely thought to be the logical choice for an important leadership position, is passed up in favor of a less qualified white lawyer—and is then expected to mentor him.

A baby boomer-aged female managing partner confides that throughout her career, she’s known that any small lapse in judgment, of the kind that would be no problem for a male lawyer, would spell disaster for her.

After a hiring interview, a partner refuses to discuss the qualifications of a candidate who is transgender, instead cracking jokes about whether she is actually a man.

All of these scenarios and more take place at a law firm that, on paper, is deeply committed to diversity. All are fictionalized—appearing in a new film called “Walk the Walk”—but were drawn from interviews with a number of lawyers working in house, in the public sector and public interest settings, and in large and small firms.

“Walk the Walk” is a follow-up, 20 years later, to a series of films on diversity in the profession that were produced by filmmaker Abby Ginzberg and writer and appellate attorney AJ Kutchins. In order to assess how much progress had been made since then, the two—with the encouragement and support of the State Bar of California—conducted interviews that were then used as material for fictionalized scenes and dialogue.

The state bar, through its Center for Access & Fairness, is offering a complimentary copy of the film to other bar associations as an additional tool to help fight bias and discrimination.

The free offer applies to any bar association to present as MCLE or any legal services office for viewing by the staff or board. The State Bar of California is also selling copies of the film to law firms, corporations, government entities, law schools, and nonprofits other than bar associations and legal services offices.

Patricia Lee, the bar’s special assistant for diversity and bar relations, notes that because of the talent pool available in California, both onscreen and behind the camera, the quality of the acting and of the production values is very high.

For more information or to receive a free DVD, facilitator guide, participant materials, a focus group report, and sample MCLE evaluation form, email Lee or call (415) 538-2240.