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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. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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