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Diversity conference addresses issues

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The Marion County Bar Association and Indiana Lawyer partnered to raise awareness and provide best practices regarding diversity and inclusion in the legal and business communities during the first Diversity in Practice conference. "Diversity in Practice: Building a Culture of Inclusion" was in Indianapolis Sept. 27 and 28 and featured keynote speakers Edward James Olmos, noted actor/director and civic activist, and Roderick Palmore, executive vice president and general counsel for Sara Lee Corp., as well as educational breakout sessions. Also several individuals and entities were honored.

Speakers challenge attendees In his speech "We're All in the Same Gang," Olmos said, "You still think there is an African race. You still think there is a Caucasian race. You still think there is a Hispanic race. You still use race as a cultural determinant. I can't even tell you how wrong that is. You all use it, and you're all professionals! There is only one race: the human race." He said the nation's educational system has a "huge, huge" problem in that it teaches only Western European origins as U.S. history. Olmos said he wasn't advocating doing away with traditional history but simply augmenting it to reflect the various influences from throughout the world. "We are not a melting pot," said Olmos, who said the U.S. is more like a "big salad" in that people never stop being who they are. Olmos challenged the luncheon attendees of 350, "How many of you can go home today and never again use race as a cultural determinant?" Palmore addressed the reality of diversity in the legal and business communities with statistics that showed women and minorities still occupy a low percentage of equity partnerships and noted more than three-quarters of minority associates depart law firms. "So what? Why should we care," asked Palmore. "Is this an old axiom of the talent rising to the top?" He countered there is a "social fatigue" regarding the issue of diversity. The law firms Sara Lee uses express a sincere interest in diversity, but Palmore said the firms hadn't even used their own data to develop a strategy to tackle issues. "Accountability and standards must be set and applied," said Palmore. "The best talent means diverse teams." A team of like minds, backgrounds, experiences won't have as many ideas as a diverse team, said Palmore, who used an example of a black woman who came up with the idea of the tag-less T-shirt for Hanes, which was then under the Sara Lee umbrella.
Diversity in Practice Awards Awards recognizing progress and contributions in promoting diversity were presented in eight categories. The following were honored during the luncheon: · Attorney: Roderick H. Morgan, Bingham McHale · Corporate: WellPoint · Government: Marion County Public Defender Agency · In-house Legal Department: Eli Lilly & Co. · Judiciary: Hon. Frank Sullivan Jr. · Law Firm: Bingham McHale · Law-related Not-for-profit: Indianapolis Bar Association · Law student: Jasmine T. Parson, Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis
Conference a success "We are extremely pleased with the first Diversity in Practice conference. The feedback I have received already has been very positive; attendance was strong; and all of our keynote speakers fit perfectly into the format and message of the event," said Chris Katterjohn, publisher of Indiana Lawyer. "I would be remiss if I didn't credit former Indiana Lawyer Publisher Glenda Russell for championing the idea of the conference and bringing it to the company. She did the initial work of forming the committees and establishing the conference's general outline. It was unfortunate that she moved on before she could see it through, but I know she would be pleased with the outcome." The Marion County Bar Association was pleased with the event as well. "The Diversity Conference was an absolute success. Ideas were shared openly and freely. Participants received information that will assist their organization with effectively addressing diversity issues. Corporations, law firms, governmental agencies, attorneys, and law students all offered a multitude of comments and compliments regarding the quality of the speakers and presentations," said Jimmie McMillian, Marion County Bar Association president. Check out Indiana Lawyer's Web site, theindianalawyer.com, for photos from the event.
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  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

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  5. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

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