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New Diversity Commission Created To Challenge the "Glass Ceiling"

Will Help Carry Forward Recommendations Of Diversity Summit


CHICAGO, “The American Bar Association is reinforcing its already strong commitment to a diverse legal profession through a new Diversity Commission to provide practical resources and guidance that will help women lawyers, lawyers of color, disabled lawyers, lawyers of differing sexual preferences and young or old lawyers navigate the cultures and practices in law firms and corporations to pierce the glass ceiling,” newly installed ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm announced today.  “Regardless of physical attribute or age, lawyers should be able to practice and excel on the basis of their talent, work ethic and devotion to their clients,” Lamm said.


Lamm said the initiative will sponsor regional programs modeled after a session jointly sponsored by her own law firm, White & Case, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.  The regional programs will have a broader participation, said Lamm, but will emphasize building networks in which lawyers who already have overcome barriers to advancement can share with aspiring lawyers the strategies and understanding that worked for them.


According to Lamm, the commission also will review the findings and recommendations from a diversity summit organized in June by immediate past President H. Thomas Wells, Jr., to identify programs and activities that can be implemented in the coming bar year.  The commission will work with other ABA entities focused on diversity issues to carry those recommendations forward.


“Building a more diverse legal profession is not a quick-fix, short-term goal,” Lamm said.  “It is an ongoing campaign, one in which the ABA has been engaged for decades, and which we are committed to continue as long as it takes,” she stressed.


Lamm noted the range of association diversity efforts, from a Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity with projects to expand the pipeline of young persons aspiring to be lawyers, to increase opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities in all areas of legal practice, and to address racial and ethnic issues in the legal system; to commissions focusing on issues of women lawyers, lawyers with disabilities and lawyers with varying sexual orientations.  Separately, Lamm announced creation of a new commission to review lawyer ethics and regulation in light of how technology and globalization have transformed the practice of law, called the Commission on Ethics 20/20, and a Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs. 


Lamm appointed Judge Ellen F. Rosenblum of the Oregon Court of Appeals to chair the new Diversity Commission.


Other members are Ramon A. Abadin of Miami; Joan M.Durocher of the National Council on Disability, Vienna, Va.; Kimberly A. Greeley of Honolulu; Marcia D. Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center, Washington, D.C.; Mark Johnson of Portland, Ore.; Kim M. Keenan of Washington, D.C.; Ramona E. Romero of Wilmington, Del.; Evett L. Simmons of Port Saint Lucie, Fla.; and Jo Weiss of New York. 

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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