Adrian Felix from Daily Business Review recently discussed Street Law's Legal Diversity Pipeline program and its role in helping law firms reexamine their firm's participation and investment in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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"Diversity is critical to the future of the legal profession. The nation’s demographics have become increasingly diverse over the past two decades, thus having a legal industry that is reflective of the community and the people it serves engenders confidence and trust from the public.
Additionally, having lawyers of diverse backgrounds, brings different perspectives, experiences and opinions to the table, thereby, leading to better collaborative and innovative solutions and better problem-solving models, than those obtained by legal teams who share the same or similar backgrounds. Although outside the legal industry, the Gucci’s “blackface” sweater controversy in 2019 provides a prime example of an issue that could have been avoided had the company’s design team been more diverse.
Last, law firms that recognize the value of and embrace diversity, in their employees and within the culture of the law firm, are better positioned to thrive during economic shifts and service corporate clients (many of whom are beginning to demand their law firms be more diverse).
The most important way(s) to improve diversity within the legal industry is for law firms (and businesses) to do a better job at recruiting and retaining diverse attorneys long-term. In that regard, the legal industry has made significant improvements over the years of developing and supporting a sustainable pipeline for diverse attorneys, through such programs as:
- Year Up, a program dedicated to closing the ‘Opportunity Guide’ by instilling young adults with the skills, experiences, tools, and support through different training and internship opportunities that will empower and create a path for them to succeed in today’s professional world.
- Street Law, a global, nonprofit organization committed to developing classroom and community programs that educate young professionals about the law and government. Street Law’s Diversity Pipeline Programs partners legal professionals with high school law classes to broaden students’ knowledge and interest in the law and legal careers.
- Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair, the largest annual LGBTQ+ legal conference in the country dedicated to supporting diversity in the legal profession and offer opportunities for candidates to network with law firms, government agencies, organizations, and legal departments.
- ABA Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP), a program designed to provide judicial internship opportunities to law students that associate with unrepresented racial and ethnic groups within the legal industry, students with disabilities, gender and sexual orientation, or those that are economically disadvantaged.
- Southeastern Minority Job Fair (SEMJF), one of the oldest and largest legal interview programs in the country that connects employers and diverse students from over 50 law schools in the Southeastern United States."
Head shot of article author Adrian K. Felix