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5 Ways the ABA Is Advancing DEI in the Profession

The American Bar Association, the largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the world, has just four goals that define who we are and what we do as an Association.  ABA Goal III memorializes our unwavering dedication to eliminate bias and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the Association, legal profession, and Justice System.  In 2018, the ABA created the ABA Center for Diversity and Inclusion in the Profession to strengthen its work in advancing Goal III.  Housed within the Center are nine distinct diversity entities charged with advancing different areas of DEI inside and outside the ABA e.g., women, disability, LGBTQ+, race and ethnicity, pipeline, and social justice. 

Here are just five examples of the Center’s work to advance DEI:

  1. We helped increase DEI within law firms by recruiting 188 general counsels of Fortune 1000 companies that agreed to require that law firms providing them legal services share their DEI data via the ABA Model Diversity Survey.  The survey enhances the companies’ ability to assess the diversity of a law firm when deciding which firm to retain and incentivizes law firms to improve their DEI efforts.  
  2. We engaged community colleges interested in creating a pre-law pathway program by providing guidance and resources via the Community College Toolkit.
  3. We facilitated open and ongoing dialogue between women lawyers of color and white women lawyers through the Guided Conversations Project to foster a greater understanding and respect for one another and build allyship to promote racial equity. 
  4. We moved the disability DEI needle by recruiting more than 350 law firms, corporations, courts, bar associations, law schools, and other legal employers to sign the Pledge for Change: Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession and commit to the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement of lawyers with disabilities in the legal profession.
  5. We raised awareness of trans issues by providing a 26-page toolkit for lawyers, judges, and others in the legal profession, with clips, resources, and ways to take action, along with discussion prompts, facilitation tips, and thematic questions. For a closer look at the toolkit, check out the webinar Trans Awareness for Legal Professionals: Why It Matters and Tools to Help.

To learn about the Center and its entities, visit Interested in getting involved? Contact [email protected].