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. As an adoptive parent, I have to say this situation was as shameful as it gets. While the state government opens its wallet to the Simons and their friends, it denied payments to the most vulnerable in our state. Thanks Mitch!

  2. We as lawyers who have given up the range of First amendment freedom that other people possess, so that we can have a license to practice in the courts of the state and make gobs of money, that we agree to combat the hateful and bigoted discrimination enshrined in the law by democratic majorities, that Law Lord Posner has graciously explained for us....... We must now unhesitatingly condemn the sincerely held religious beliefs of religiously observant Catholics, Muslims, Christians, and Jewish persons alike who yet adhere to Scriptural exhortations concerning sodomites and catamites..... No tolerance will be extended to intolerance, and we must hate the haters most zealously! And in our public explanations of this constitutional garbledygook, when doing the balancing act, we must remember that the state always pushes its finger down on the individualism side of the scale at every turn and at every juncture no matter what the cost to society.....to elevate the values of a minority over the values of the majority is now the defining feature of American "Democracy..." we must remember our role in tricking Americans to think that this is desirable in spite of their own democratically expressed values being trashed. As a secular republic the United States might as well be officially atheist, religious people are now all bigots and will soon be treated with the same contempt that kluckers were in recent times..... The most important thing is that any source of moral authority besides the state be absolutely crushed.

  3. In my recent article in Indiana Lawyer, I noted that grass roots marketing -- reaching out and touching people -- is still one of the best forms of advertising today. It's often forgotten in the midst of all of today's "newer wave" marketing techniques. Shaking hands and kissing babies is what politicians have done for year and it still works. These are perfect examples of building goodwill. Kudos to these firms. Make "grass roots" an essential part of your marketing plan. Jon Quick QPRmarketing.com

  4. Hi, Who can I speak to regarding advertising today? Thanks, Gary

  5. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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