Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 6

FROM OUR PRESIDENT
We Can't Hit Pause
on Diversity
By Charles R. Lowery Jr.
W
hen I entered the
University of Michigan
Law School in 1976,
I was one of approximately
4,000 African American
students admitted to ABAaccredited
law schools that year.1
In 2023 more than 9,000 Black students entered
law schools across the country - the sixth year
in a row that enrollment numbers for students
of color were up, according to the ABA.
The number paints an optimistic picture of the
state of diversity in the legal profession, but the
undercurrent challenges facing minority students
once they leave law school - from firm
and corporate recruitment to retention and
promotion - tell a story not so different from
when I started practicing law in 1979. Today,
almost five decades since I left law school, the
legal profession remains the least diverse professional
field in the United States.
To continue to make progress on diversity, universities,
law schools, legal employers, and the
courts must redouble their efforts to promote
equal access and opportunity in the law. Much
has already been written about the many benefits
of bringing together lawyers from different
cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds -
from enhanced problem-solving abilities to
better business decisions to innovation. What's
more, diversity is critical to the rule of law, promoting
the public's perception of an equal and
fair judicial system.
Here at the D.C. Bar, we are guided by our motto
" Serving our members so they can serve the
community. " But for us to provide the best representation
for our clients, our profession should
reflect the communities we serve. These are not
empty words. Over the years our Bar has taken
6 WASHINGTON LAWYER
* MARCH/APRIL 2024
tangible steps to live up to our commitment to
help build and enhance diversity, equity, inclusion,
and accessibility (DEIA) in the law.2
Our most recent efforts include the Lawyers'
Toolkit for Diversity & Inclusion, created in 2021
by a D.C. Bar Communities working group. The
toolkit summarizes best practices in the legal
industry and provides guidance on diversity
and inclusion metrics to measure progress, recruiting
and retention goals and processes, and
mechanisms for creating a culture of inclusion
and belonging in the workplace.
In 2022 the D.C. Bar Board of Governors appointed
the DEIA Task Force to provide thought
leadership and make recommendations on improving
diversity. The task force has enlisted
more than a dozen experts on DEIA and formed
five working groups in the areas of recruitment
and pipeline building, equitable advancement,
inclusive culture and transparency, demographics
survey and data, and toolkit and resources.
The task force recognizes that strong DEIA programs
address racial, gender, ethnic, and religious
diversity, but it also seeks to call attention
to issues facing the LGBTQ community and
those with nonapparent disabilities.
To date, the DEIA Task Force has held more
than 30 structured discussions with various
stakeholders, including managing partners and
diversity leaders at law firms (both large and
small), general counsel, law school deans, and
the chief judges of the D.C. Courts.
Expected to submit its recommendations to
the D.C. Bar Board of Governors later this year,
the task force's report will focus on practical
DEIA strategies and tactics that have proven
successful for law firms, the courts, corporations,
government agencies, trade associations,
and law schools. Among the questions it seeks
to address are:
* Are work assignments made to ensure the
growth and development of diverse attorneys?
* Are diverse attorneys among those who play
meaningful roles in critical matters and on
teams?
* Do compensation systems encourage the
sharing of origination and management credit?
*
Is there succession planning that ensures
women and diverse attorneys will have the
ability to " inherit " client relationships?
* Is there an effort to ensure diverse attorneys
have pathways to leadership?
I am proud to have been a part of these two
initiatives, and prouder still of the Bar for not
shirking from the hard work required to meaningfully
move the needle on diversity, equity,
and inclusion in the law.
In the decades since I started working as a public
service attorney in Boston handling landlord-tenant
and public benefits cases, the legal
profession has made important strides to get us
closer to true diversity. However, this remains a
difficult task. Recent headwinds around affirmative
action have only increased our challenges.
But we must press on. The D.C. Bar should be
a leader in changing the face of the law and in
efforts to move our profession toward " walking
the talk " on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The
road ahead is not easy, but I invite you to stay
on this journey with me.
Connect with Charles at clowery@dcbar.org.
NOTES
1 Kidder, William C., " The Struggle for Access From
Sweatt to Grutter: A History of African American,
Latino, and American Indian Law School Admissions,
1950-2000, " Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal (2003).
2 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
Resources, dcbar.org/DEIA-resources.
Patrice Gilbert Photography
http://www.dcbar.org/DEIA-resources

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Notice to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Get to Know The Appellate Project
Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Taking the Stand
Worth Reading
Member Spotlight
On Further Review
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 4
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Notice to Members
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Get to Know The Appellate Project
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 36
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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