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A Practitioner's Guide to Diversity and Inclusion - Young Lawyers News

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Young Lawyers News

Posted on: Jul 15, 2020

By Steve Henke, Hackman Hulett LLP 

Judge David Shaheed—formerly a Marion Superior Court judge and currently an associate professor at IUPUI—provided the IndyBar with some great insight on diversity and inclusion issues within the legal profession in his July 14 CLE. In case you missed it, here’s our quick summary.

First, he gave some legal background for diversity and inclusion issues, and pointed out some constitutional amendments, congressional actions and court decisions that shape the legal underpinnings of these issues. He provided some more context to some of the more positive legal developments by noting just how difficult it was to get these amendments or laws enacted, and he recommended Richard Rothstein’s "The Color of Law" for further reading.

Next, Judge Shaheed noted some important and more recent developments—even as recent as the first female Army Green Beret’s graduation from the Special Forces Qualification Course last week. We listened to Justice Ginsburg recount the explicit, targeted sexism of the then-Harvard Dean—and compared this to a photo of the Supreme Court’s current composition. Judge Shaheed also pointed out a recent law review article theorizing that, in times of crisis, less diverse boards—such as Volkswagen and the Weinstein Company—made less effective decisions.

Judge Shaheed closed the CLE with practical tips. For legal organizations, he highlighted three key components of diversity and inclusion programs: (1) speed networking to enable connections between people who do not frequently interact), (2) a “lens of belonging” based on studies referenced here, exercises can help bridge the needs of minorities and women, and (3) carefully administered anti-bias or implicit bias training. For young lawyers, he recommended being sure to reach out to mentors and encourage development of diversity and inclusion programs. Additionally, Judge Shaheed discussed real-world problems of courts displaying bias—including a hypothetical based on Inquiry Concerning Laettner, 8 Cal. 5th CJP Supp. 1 (2019). In addition to self-policing, Judge Shaheed recommended reaching out to Adrienne Meiring of the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications with concerns, and making special note of the time and place of the inappropriate behavior.

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