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. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.