Chinn: Diversity Efforts Can't End with Successful Job Fair

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iba-chinn-scottOn Friday, July 27, 2012, the Indianapolis Bar Association held its 5th Annual Diversity Job Fair. By all measures it was a success. And let me give you both tangible metrics and intangible ones. On the numbers, we were pleased that 27 employers participated, more than 60 students were interviewed, and 15 organizations contributed sponsorships of the event.

This was truly a national job fair in the sense that the students were from all over the country and from coast to coast. And the diversity among employers was impressive as well – representing boutique firms, large firms, and public interest and government employers. We’ll see later how many students were hired as a result of the fair, but we know that some students were offered jobs even on the day of the interviews.

I don’t have room in this column to recount the less tangible measures. But it starts with recognizing the hard work of the Diversity Job Fair Committee. Brita Horvath chaired the 11-member committee this year and they did an inspired job. IndyBar staff member Caren Chopp ably supported the committee as always. The result was a series of events that should make the IndyBar and the City proud.

The welcome reception on the Thursday evening before the interview day was a great event. The students were greeted by federal and state judges, members of the bar and IndyBar leadership and staff. It was held at the Skyline Club, which we might take for granted, but whose views of the City make quite an impression on students unfamiliar with Indianapolis. I talked to one student from Oregon after seeing her gazing out the tall widows. Committee member Shelley Jackson summed it up in her remarks by speaking of the excitement we all felt about the possibilities engendered by the fair.

At the Friday luncheon, we heard from Thea Kelly, Senior Counsel with Dow AgroSciences – a great business employing so many people and professionals in our community. Ms. Kelly spoke of her time in law practice in Indianapolis and of being the first African American female lawyer at Dow. Her remarks were inspiring, touching, funny and, above all, real.

The IndyBar Diversity Job Fair won’t by itself create the kind of diverse and inclusive environment that so many of us want to see promoted in our legal community. But being part of it this year put me in mind of what we would lose without it. First, we would lose the student-employer connections. That would result in some students that would otherwise get jobs with the participating employers missing out on those opportunities. Second, perhaps less tangibly but just as important, those employers and the rest of us participating in the fair would not get to interact with an important part of the hiring market and would miss an opportunity to add to best practices in promoting diversity in hiring. And finally a reservoir of dynamic energy directed toward diversity in our legal community that is being filled up today by your participation would be empty. It is the last point that is so easily seen in the work of the Diversity Job Fair Committee and in the contributions to the events by Thea Kelly, the sponsors, employers and students.

As a postscript to the fair, let me observe that we can’t put the issue of diversity on the shelf until next year. On the heels of the successes of the fair, IndyBar leadership attended the annual meeting of the American Bar Association and its affiliate groups the first week of August in Chicago. A good bit of the programming and few other special events were on the subject of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and IndyBar representatives attended all of those sessions, coming away with more information, inspiration, and ideas.

Our work continues.•


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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues