Goal IX Newsletter

Summer 2005, Volume 11, Number 3

Diversity in 2010 by: Daniel White

The 2000 Census revealed that roughly 10% of the lawyers in this country are people of color. Of that number, 4.6% are women. Go figure, ethnic diversity in the profession may be at an all time high. This number may look like a little like progress, but there are still far too few attorneys of color being recruited, hired, retained and invited to join partnership ranks. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we still have a long road ahead.

Daniel White

The statistical news from the Census Bureau could lead us to sit back and do one of two things: point the finger and lay blame for these outrageous numbers, or continue to strive toward the goal of growing a more diverse profession. But where and how do we begin to make steps toward a more diverse legal community?

First and foremost, we cannot afford to give up on the projects and undertakings that are currently growing and gaining the attention of local communities. Instead, continued efforts need to be made to find and allocate resources such as volunteers and dollars to these pro bono and diversity programs. Mentoring programs should be of particular importance because showing people of color in the early stages of their educations and careers that they can be a part of this profession and be successful at it is a sure way to increase diversity.

Second, there needs to be continued encouragement of our colleagues and counterparts in large and small firms alike to become active participants in this mission. Encouragement for participation should not stop at the partners, but rather should be a firm and community wide initiative.

There should also be focus on the new or proverbial “young lawyer” to get involved in this task. After all, fresh eyes often add a degree of insight that more seasoned ones may not see.

The result—after we as a legal community have pledged and committed to diversify…after we have made up our philosophical minds about this undertaking…what is going to be the factor of accountability that holds us to our word? Perhaps it will be the increasing number of students of color admitted, enrolled and graduated from our nations law schools. Maybe it will be an increasing number of attorneys of color being recruited by large and small firms. Whatever that factor might be, many of us will be curious to see the number that the Census Bureau delivers after the 2010 census. Our continued efforts to change the face of the profession will hopefully make at least a small blip on the diversity radar.

Diversifying the legal profession is a responsibility belonging to all those who call themselves a member of any Bar Association. By now we should recognize that a diverse environment to work, live, and learn in enables us all to succeed in this global community that we have created. More importantly, we should recognize that a diverse legal profession has the potential to provide a full range of legal services to communities of color so that their residents can enjoy equal access to the legal and judicial system.

Daniel White, P.S

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 special tabulation.

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