Equality Committee Multnomah Lawyer Articles

May 2009 Multnomah Lawyer article

MBA Statement of Diversity Principles

By Linda Meng, MBA Equality Committee Chair

The MBA invites you to sign on to the Statement of Diversity Principles. The statement was proposed by the Equality Committee and approved by the board last month. It presents an opportunity for all legal employers - law firms big and small, governments, businesses, nonprofits and everyone else - to publicly acknowledge their commitment to developing the diversity of the legal community in Oregon. The statement is offered as a vehicle to continue and expand upon our conversation about diversity in the bar - diversity as an encompassing idea, important to all of us.

The OSB has faced some challenges in the past couple of years over issues connected with diversity of the bar. Although the discussions have sometimes been difficult, the bar has faced the challenges and continues to move forward with renewed commitment. This statement is offered as an avenue to encourage a positive demonstration of a commitment to diversity. We hope it will facilitate dialogue about the importance of diversity to the MBA and to the OSB.

Diversity in the legal profession is a goal recognized by attorneys because of the inherent values of equality and fairness that pervade our work. It is also a goal that is valued by our clients. They are looking to the legal community to reflect that value. In the document entitled "A Call to Action: Diversity in the Legal Profession," the chief legal counsels of many major corporations pledged to make decisions regarding which law firms represent their companies "based in significant part on the diversity performance of the firms." (See www.cloCallToAction.com) Corporate clients are following through on that pledge and requiring that firms demonstrate a commitment to diversity as part of the engagement process.

In some ways, our clients are out in front of us on diversity issues. This statement is a step toward moving forward as a partner with those clients. Although signing on to this proposal of this Statement of Diversity Principles will be a symbolic action, it must be more than that. It is offered as a step toward bringing together signers to acknowledge the importance of diversity in the legal profession and to share information about best practices.

We urge you to sign on to this Statement of Diversity Principles. You can download the statement from the MBA Web site. When you sign, please forward a copy of your signed statement to the MBA. We will acknowledge signers on the Equality Committee Web site and in the Multnomah Lawyer.