October 09, 2018

Diversity Initiatives

The ABA Fund for Justice and Education

The Center for Professional Responsibility promotes an environment that values diversity and encourages inclusion in the legal profession and among its membership.

Mission Statement

The Center for Professional Responsibility’s mission is to provide leadership and guidance to the legal profession and the judiciary by developing and interpreting standards of ethics, professional regulation, professionalism, and client protection.  The Center seeks to foster an environment of inclusion and to identify and remove barriers to the participation of lawyers of color, women lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) lawyers in the achievement of the Center’s mission.

News and Resources

Current Projects:

  • The Diversity Committee is collaborating with the Standing Committee on Professional Regulation to develop for chief disciplinary counsel and disciplinary adjudicators a survey designed to collect data regarding implicit bias in disciplinary charging decisions and adjudications.  In developing the survey, the Committee sought and received very helpful input from the CPR Diversity Committee and the ABA Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity.  The Professional Regulation Committee plans to use the confidential survey results to develop programming and toolkits to help disciplinary agencies and adjudicators better understand these issues and take action to successfully address implicit bias.  The Professional Regulation Committee looks forward to collaborating with these and other entities as it develops, disseminates, and promotes these tools.

Past Programs:

  • CLE in the City – Thursday, August 2nd, 1:15 PM–2:45 PM (ETHICS) Model Rule 8.4—Update, Discussion, and Best Practices in a #MeToo World - This timely and topical program will provide information and updates on Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4. Rule 8.4 covers attorney misconduct and 8.4(g) has been the topic of serious discussion and debate since its amendment in 2016. Speakers will provide an update on the state by state implementation of the rule and an examination of the various conflicts and constitutional issues regarding the rule, its implementation, its enforcement by regulators, its application, etc. The program will then transition into a discussion of Rule 8.4’s potential application to attorneys in the workplace in light of the nationwide awareness and dialogue concerning sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. The panel will also provide an overview of best practices and training for law firms revolving around a discussion on the ABA’s ongoing work to provide information and guidance on workplace bias interrupters. 
  • National Organization of Bar Counsel Meeting
    Thursday, August 2nd,
    , 3:45 PM - 5:15 PM
    Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence in the Regulatory Setting - Increasing globalization brings challenges and opportunities for regulators to recognize the role diversity plays in how we see ourselves, each other and the world, and the importance of interacting effectively across differences. In this session we will look at these concepts both internally, in the regulatory employment setting, and externally, with the attorneys, opposing counsel, complainants, and witnesses who come before us. Panelists will discuss the unique opportunities and responsibilities regulatory bodies have in cultivating and modeling diversity and inclusion as well as cultural competence within the legal profession. 
  • Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession & Interlaw Diversity Forum– Tuesday, June 12, 2018
    12:00 PM–2:00 PM & 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM 
    Diversity and Inclusion:  A Professional Responsibility?  (held at Clifford Chance & Eversheds Sutherland respectively) - After a compare and contrast presentation featuring staff experts from the Law Society of England and Wales and the American Bar Association about how regulatory arrangements in the U.K. and U.S. facilitate increased diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, lawyers, in-house counsel and other experts explore with discuss how they are seeing this play out in practice.  They will engage attendees in discussion about what in our countries’ professional regulatory frameworks encourages or enables increased diversity and inclusion and where they fall short.  Is there anything missing, such as proactive initiatives that could better do so? Some specific items that will be discussed are ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(g) that prohibits lawyers from engaging in discrimination and harassment, data on the required reporting in the U.K on gender pay gaps (including law firms), and views from other disciplines indicating that gender diversity at the board level of entities yields better quality of decision-making. 
  • Implicit Bias in the Legal Workplace: Moving from “Who Is Biased?” to “What Can We Do About it?” is available for download as part of the Free ABA Member CLE Series until mid-September, 2017.  Panelists discuss how implicit bias works and how it affects day-to-day decisions and the exercise of discretion in various aspects of the legal workplace.  Read related article
  • On August 8, 2016 the ABA House of Delegates approved a resolution by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility to amend Model Rule 8.4 to bring into the blackletter of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct an anti-harassment and antidiscrimination provision.   A list of co-sponsors and supporters as well as previous drafts and comments is available here. See video
  • Talking about the Elephant in the Room:  Working Toward an Inclusive Profession
    By Shannon Green (State Bar of Wisconsin Inside Track, July 2016 Vol. 8, #14)
  • Lawyering with Challenges: Disability & Empowerment
    By Stuart Pixley (The Professional Lawyer, Vol. 23, #1)
  • 41st National Conference on Professional Responsibility:  Should the ABA Put an Anti-Bias Mandate Into a Blackletter Model Rule? (May 29, 2015, Denver, CO.) Program materials
  • ABA Diversity Resources


Center For Professional Responsibility 
Diversity and Inclusion Plan

  • Goal 1:  Raise Awareness that ABA Goal III:  Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity is Critical to the Effectiveness of the Center
  • Goal 2:  Increase and Maintain Diversity in Center Leadership and Membership
  • Goal 3:  Increase and Maintain Diverse Participation in Center Educational Programs, Publications, and Other Initiatives

Jeanne P. Gray
Diversity Scholarship

The Jeanne P. Gray Diversity Scholarship program was developed to explore ways for the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility to build synergies with national diverse bar associations. The program was developed in memory of Jeanne and her over 30 years of dedication to the ABA and its Center for Professional Responsibility. Each year a national diverse bar association is invited to select a recipient to become a member of the Center’s family and help us explore ways to work more closely together. 

2018 Recipient
Annette Kwok

Annette Kwok is a member of Venable’s Patent Prosecution and Counseling Group. She counsels domestic and international clients on a variety of patent procurement and enforcement issues, as well as intellectual property strategy and licensing issues. As a registered Patent Attorney, Annette is experienced in the preparation and prosecution of patent applications in the areas of chemistry, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer products, and business methods. She also has experience in preparing validity, infringement, freedom-to-operate, and patentability opinions.

Prior to law school, Annette was a synthetic organic chemist with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute in the neurosciences group. She is a named inventor of several small-molecule pharmaceutical patents. In connection with her scientific research, Annette has published several articles relating to histamine H4 antagonists, histamine H3 antagonists, and human rhinovirus 3C protease inhibitors. Annette also attended a post-graduate program at the University of California, San Diego, on drug discovery and development, with a focus on computer-aided drug design.

Since 2010, Annette has served on various board positions of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area, including treasurer (2010-2012), president-elect (2012-2013), and president (2013-2014). She also served as the southeast regional governor of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association from 2015 to 2017. Annette is also a member of the DC Bar Foundation Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council, where she serves on the IOLTA subcommittee. She also is a graduate of the District of Columbia Bar’s inaugural Leadership Academy. In addition, Annette is a member of the American Intellectual Property Law Society, the American Bar Association, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Annette is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin.