Diversity: Let’s Broaden Our Perspective
Diversity is such an important topic. What does it really mean to be diverse and how can we as individuals and law firms address inequities in the practice of law?
I recently read what I think is a profoundly important article authored by Andreina Varela-Taylor entitled Diversity: More Than Ticking Boxes published by the CBA.
I wanted to share this article with our LiL readers because it provides a stark reminder that the work toward diversity and equality is nowhere near over. We all need to continue to work hard at developing awareness around diversity in the practice of law and otherwise. I really appreciated Andreina’s recommendation around more education in the legal profession particularly with respect to discussing the unique attributes and skills that are offered by embracing diversity. It is not simply grades that mark the potential of an amazing lawyer. It is everything they bring to the table, their successes, perspectives and failures. It is the trials of life that build strength and resilience. All of these are important attributes of a successful lawyer. Why you might ask? Because members of society, those that seek legal counsel, do not want a cookie cutter lawyer. Each client is different requiring different perspectives on their legal issue. Different personalities and different problems will seek out different approaches to legal issues. We simply must strive to make sure all bases are covered.
Ms. Varela-Taylor concludes her article by stating:
“It’s essential we recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds into the legal profession. But it means little if we don’t also include them for their attributes and their ability to bring a different mindset and skills to the legal profession.”
We are all different, diverse in personal attributes and mindsets. We have all had different upbringings, different educations and encountered different challenges throughout the course of our lives. We overcame our own hurdles and built resilience as a result. So, if we are just checking boxes for the sake of checking boxes, we are not speaking to the importance of why diversity itself is so important in the first place.
Education on diversity within law firms and otherwise is vital to ensure that we continue to build supportive and diverse workplaces that support individual strengths to make a stronger whole.
I know we, in the practice of law, are nowhere near accomplishing the goal of establishing true diversity. We need to continue to ask to be educated and never lose sight of the principle point this article imparts – we need to recruit based upon something more than simply grades. We need to continue to attract talent that represents all walks of life to ensure that all walks of life have a lawyer that suits their circumstances. Enjoy the read. It certainly helped me understand more clearly my own view on what diversity really means.