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August 25, 2023

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith RE: Diversity programs at law firms

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2023 — The American Bar Association is deeply troubled by the recent efforts of some elected officials and advocacy groups to attack diversity programs at law firms.

The legal profession needs to create a more diverse workforce. For example, just 6% of all lawyers are Hispanic, but they are 19% of the U.S. population. Similarly, just 5% of lawyers are Black, even though they are 13% of the population. Diversity also is good for business and something more clients are demanding.

Diversity, equity and inclusion programs help remove the barriers that block the recruitment and retention of legal talent from underrepresented groups. Efforts to open the opportunities in the legal field to underrepresented groups would be significantly damaged by the loss of diversity and pipeline programs.

Goal III of the ABA calls for the elimination of bias and enhancement of diversity. We stand committed to the promotion of full and equal participation in the association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the legal profession needs to review its programs and identify ways to comply with the law while promoting diversity, inclusion and equity in the legal profession. Now is the time for law firms, law schools and employers to rededicate themselves to creating a more diverse and inclusive environment.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.