Diverse in diversity thinking

November 19, 2009
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When the word diversity first comes to mind, you may think of people of different ethnicities, races, or gender. And that’s become the problem because “diversity” has become a bit stagnant in what people think makes up a diverse population and workforce. As the years have passed since diversity became a hot topic in the legal community and what firms look for to achieve, diversity has expanded to include religion, sexual orientation, and people with disabilities.

The American Bar Association just released its report from its second national conference in June on the employment of lawyers with disabilities. The ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law first conducted this conference in 2006.

The timing of this report comes just before Indiana Lawyer's Diversity in Practice event Friday. The event and awards recognize and celebrate those who have excelled in their committment to diversity in all its aspects.  

In the 99-page report from the ABA conference, participants attempt to persuade law firms to recruit, hire, and promote attorneys with disabilities as well as why attorneys with disabilities are needed in the profession. There are plenty of interesting personal stories from attorneys who are blind, in a wheel chair, or have Tourette syndrome about how law firms or other attorneys have reacted to their disabilities.

It’s true that people with disabilities make up a small percentage of the legal profession – only about 2 percent of 2007 law school graduates reported that they were disabled. A study conduced by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association this year found that around 2 percent of attorneys from the AmLaw 200 firms that responded to the survey identified themselves as disabled.

But as one speaker pointed out, everyone faces the possibility they may become disabled due to an accident or illness. Graduates with disabilities are also somewhat less likely to get jobs in private practice, according to the report.

One main reason for the conference was to encourage legal employers to sign a “Pledge for Change” and implement and promote disability diversity. The ABA says it’s important to promote disability diversity with the same level of diversity based on race, ethnicity, and gender.

The point of having a diverse workforce is to include people of differing backgrounds. This report helps to remind us that we shouldn’t consider only certain categories or the same two or three when thinking diversity. We need to be diverse in our thinking when considering diversity.

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  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well