Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 15

FEATURE
These anecdotal experiences reflect the ongoing implicit bias against
minorities. It is highly likely that the offenders did not intend to offend
and indeed may have been unaware that their actions and words caused
an affront. The legal profession certainly understands the power of
words but seems hesitant to fully embrace diversity and inclusion
beyond " checking a box. "

THE PROBLEM: IMPLICIT BIAS
" Implicit bias refers to the brain's automatic, instant association of stereotypes or attitudes toward particular groups, without our conscious
aware-ness, " 4 wrote Judge Mark W. Bennett, former chief judge of the
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa who has trained more
than 2,500 state and federal judges on implicit bias across the country.
In fact, " Experts believe that the mind's unconscious is responsible for
80 percent or more of thought processes. " 5 It is important to understand
that implicit bias is unconscious and, by its definition, affects the decisionmaking process.
This bias manifests itself in several key scenarios: hiring and retention,
quality of assignments, performance evaluations, and opportunities for
advancement. In particular, women and men of color, as well as white
women, reported that they must go above and beyond to get the same
recognition of their nonminority peers.
Judge Jill Cummins, who sits on the Montgomery County Circuit Court
and serves as co-chair of the Bar Association of Montgomery County,
Maryland's (BAMC) Diversity Committee, says that throughout her legal
education, practice experience, and appointment to the bench, she was
often told by colleagues that she was provided advancement because
she's Black.
While in private practice, Cummins recalls being told, " Wow, you don't
look like you sound, " after meeting in person for the first time with
clients she had previously only interacted with over the phone.
In the NAWL study, men of color and women of all races reported that
they have been mistaken for administrative staff, court personnel, or
janitorial workers. Women of all races reported pressure to behave in
feminine ways, while also being provided more administrative tasks than
their white male colleagues.
Judge Mark Scurti of the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City
faced a different challenge. Scurti, a gay cisgender male, recalls that
when he was serving on the Maryland State Bar Association, its board
of governors decided to hold its mid-year excursion in the Dominican
Republic. Scurti informed the group that the country criminalizes public
displays of homosexuality. Scurti was initially met with pushback from
older, white members of the group, so he had to educate the board on
the realities that LGBTQ people face. " People are more comfortable
talking to someone in their own communities, " Scurti says.

Jeff M. Schwaber, managing partner at Stein Sperling Bennett De Jong
Driscoll, PC, says his firm has taken steps to foster inclusivity, including
participating in the BAMC's Summer Scholars Pipeline Program and collaborating with a recruitment firm to find more diverse senior-level attorneys. Schwaber says the lack of inclusion is self-perpetuating because
many firms remain predominantly white, leaving minority attorneys
feeling more isolated. He
believes that law firm leaders
should first commit to " collective intentionality " to make
their firm culture more welcoming and inclusive.
Benjamin Vaughan, a senior
partner at Armstrong,
Donohue, Ceppos, Vaughan
& Rhoades, Chtd. and cochair of the BMAC's Diversity
Committee, says the legal profession " should reflect the community it serves. " His firm also
participates in the Summer
Scholars Pipeline Program and,
according to Vaughan, its hiring
and advancement of minority
attorneys is on par with nonminority attorneys. " The law profession ought to be a diverse
profession, " he says.
To interrupt implicit bias, law
firm leaders can commit to
not only hiring diverse candidates but also to changing
their firm cultures to make
them more inclusive. These
continued on page 33

Montgomery County Circuit Court

Beverly Funkhouser

JUDGE MARK SCURTI

THE SOLUTION: A CULTURE OF INCLUSION
While many law firms embrace diversity in the hiring process, they face
challenges retaining diverse attorneys because they have not created
inclusive environments.6 To solve this, firms can make small adjustments
to their basic business systems to interrupt bias, such as using metrics
to spot problems. For example, firms can track performance evaluations
to see if nonminority attorneys consistently receive higher ratings or
whether the same performance ratings result in different promotion
or compensation outcomes for certain groups.7 Additionally, having
minority senior attorneys and partners provides a positive example
and opens mentorship opportunities for young minority attorneys,
while also demonstrating that the firm is inclusive.

JUDGE JILL CUMMINS

MARCH/APRIL 2021

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

15



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021

Digital Extras
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Staying Put in Big Law feature
A Sisterhood of Latina Lawyers Sidebar
Increasing Diversity & Inclusion the the Legal Profession feature
Cultivate Mentorships sidebar
A Tribute to Judge June L. Green feature
Delicate Balance for Black Women Attorneys in Government Feature
Falling Short on Disability Inclusion feature
Elusive Justice in Violence Against Native Women feature
Worth Reading
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - Marcia Madsen
Member Spotlight - Simon Zinger
ABA Delegates Corner
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effecy
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 5
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Staying Put in Big Law feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - A Sisterhood of Latina Lawyers Sidebar
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Increasing Diversity & Inclusion the the Legal Profession feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cultivate Mentorships sidebar
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - A Tribute to Judge June L. Green feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 20
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Delicate Balance for Black Women Attorneys in Government Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Falling Short on Disability Inclusion feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Elusive Justice in Violence Against Native Women feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Member Spotlight - Marcia Madsen
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Member Spotlight - Simon Zinger
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 40
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - ABA Delegates Corner
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - The Pro Bono Effecy
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 50
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover4
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