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Beyond Diversity Inclusiveness In The Legal Workplace

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between diversity and inclusiveness?

Inclusiveness efforts fundamentally value diversity. Diversity efforts fundamentally value numbers.

Diversity: Past diversity efforts have largely focused on getting diverse and female attorneys in the door without significant regard for retaining and advancing them. Because of this, most legal organizations have a revolving door for diverse and female attorneys. Diversity refers to "the numbers" and to initiatives intended to increase the numbers of attorneys from these groups. So long as the underlying culture of an organization is not inclusive, diversity efforts will fail to achieve any measure of success. 

Inclusiveness: In an inclusive workplace, the organization values the perspectives and contributions of all people and strives to incorporate their needs and viewpoints into the organizational culture at all levels. Inclusiveness requires the participation of everyone in the organization. Just as historically underrepresented groups in the legal profession must be included, majority attorneys and staff must also participate in the removal of barriers (mostly unconscious) created by the dominant culture.

Watch a short CLI Quick Concept video: "The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusiveness."

What are some of the reasons to increase diversity and create cultures of inclusion within the legal profession?

Diversity and inclusiveness are important to the business and practice of law. Below are just a few of the reasons legal organizations should continue to make increasing diversity and inclusiveness a priority:  

1.  Organizational Effectiveness:  Empirical research has shown that diversity in the workplace leads to increased creativity and innovation. Organizations that are more creative and innovative are better able to serve their clients. Inclusive environments and cultures help retain diverse people which, in turn, helps with recruiting more diverse people.

2.  Economics:  Diversity enhances an organization's competitiveness - for both talent and clients. This is especially true in the private sector with corporate legal counsel's push for more diversity among law firms with The Call to Action initiative.  

3.  Liability:  Diverse and inclusive organizations limit their exposure to lawsuits based on discrimination.

4.  Moral/Ethical/Equity:  The legal profession is the vanguard in our society defending justice and pursuing liberty for all citizens. Thus, it should lead the way toward full inclusion. As Justice O'Connor stated in Grutter v. Bollinger, "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized."

Additional Resources:

Read CLI's article Diversity Really Does Matter, which was published in the September 2012 issue of the NALP Bulletin. Also review the introduction to the Inclusiveness Manual - Beyond Diversity: Inclusiveness in the Legal Workplace, which outlines numerous reasons why diversity matters.

Why is inclusiveness seen as the key to the diversity "dilemma"?

One of the biggest, yet most unrecognized benefits of inclusiveness to a legal organization is that it represents a comprehensive new approach to a very serious issue that never seems to get resolved, no matter how hard people try and no matter how many "best practices" are implemented. The bottom line is that many legal organizations are "stuck" in an endless diversity cycle where individual programs simply are not working and everyone is frustrated or cynical about achieving real progress.

While there are no ready-made solutions that an organization can simply implement and declare "mission accomplished," CLI's six-step inclusiveness program certainly provides an antidote for being "stuck." CLI's Inclusiveness Manual empowers and equips leaders in an organization to develop their own individualized answers and solutions. This manual provides legal organizations with the tools they need to find and develop solutions tailored to their unique situation.

What is the Advancing Inclusiveness Model (AIM) for Excellence?

The Advancing Inclusion Model (AIM) for Excellence, as its name suggests, is about striving to make your workplace a place where there are no doors blocking any individual's path to success. Regardless of which AIM level your organization currently occupies, the goal of leadership should be to keep it moving toward a level where inclusiveness is integrated into the organizational culture as a key core value.

Click here to view the AIM Model.

What is covered in CLI's six-step inclusiveness program?

Learn more about the six-steps and the various topics covered in each section here.

What organizations are implementing the Inclusiveness Program?

View the current list of nearly 30 organizations participating in CLI's Inclusiveness Network here.


      What organization developed Beyond Diversity: Inclusiveness in the Legal Workplace?

      What is the Center for Legal Inclusiveness?

      The Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to advancing diversity in the legal profession by actively educating and supporting private and public sector legal organizations in their own individual campaigns to create cultures of inclusion. CLI's innovative programs and initiatives are national models.

      The nonprofit was formed in October 2007 to sustain diversity initiatives first introduced by the Deans' Diversity Council in Colorado. Since 2007, the demand for CLI's tools and resources has grown and CLI has become a national thought leader for creating solutions on retaining and advancing diverse and female attorneys. CLI is the foremost resources on inclusiveness in the legal profession.

      Learn more about CLI.

      Who is involved in CLI?

      CLI members include prominent law firms, corporate law departments, government legal offices, law schools, and bar associations from across the country.

      The nonprofit is led by CLI's Board of Directors - a diverse group comprised of general counsel, managing partners of law firms, federal judges, senior government attorneys, the law deans of Colorado's law schools, legal professionals, and representatives from diversity organizations and specialty bar groups.

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