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Tag Archives: Diversity

Pipeline: What is it and why does it matter?

While the Keystone XL oil pipeline may be a controversial oil transportation project periodically in the headlines, a completely different pipeline has an immense impact on the racial and ethnic demographics in the Twin Cities legal industry.

According to 2012 data from the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALP), approximately 6.49% of attorneys in the Twin Cities metropolitan area are people of color*. The statistics become even more alarming when you break this number down further to see how many Partners of color are in our community, particularly women of color. In comparison, the Twin Cities metro, overall, has a population of 23.59% people of color^. Not only does this tell us that racial and ethnic minorities are vastly under-represented in the legal community, it shows us that there is a lot of work left to do.

One way to achieve greater, more representative numbers, is to hire our way to a representative sector. Essentially, we can try enticing attorneys and law students of color from outside of the Twin Cities to move here. While this may work in the short term, not only will it be harder for attorneys with no connections in the community to build a client base, it will also be harder to get them to stay. As such, a more sustainable method to increase representation is to address root causes of the problem, like the vast achievement gap in the Twin Cities, and working with youth to realize that a career in law is a viable and appealing option.

Realistically, building a pool of our own talent will also be difficult. The Twin Cities’ achievement gap in education is startlingly high. When looking at 2011 high school graduation rates in the Twin Cities, 82.5% of White (non-Hispanic) students graduated from high school, compared to 72.8% of Asian students, 48.0% of Black students, 47.7% of Hispanic students, and 35.9% of American Indian students**. Building a pipeline, or a path, for young people of color to become members of the legal community is key, and it starts at the earliest stages of their lives, to provide them with the environment and support to learn, graduate from high school, attend a reputable undergraduate institution, and find the right law school. The construction of this pipeline is vital in order to make the Twin Cities legal community more representative of the population, in a sustainable manner, with the worst case scenario of building a strong pipeline, being a more equitable education system.

Below are some great pipeline organizations that Diversity in Practice recommends. They all do great work and have opportunities to donate or volunteer!

1. Joyce Preschool

2. Minnesota Urban Debate League

3. Big Brothers Big Sisters/Hennepin County Bar Association

Do you have questions about the idea of legal pipeline, or do you want to know more? Visit the resources below or leave your questions and comments on this post!

1. ABA Council for Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline 

2. Example National Program: Legal Outreach 

Any other great pipeline organizations that you know of and would recommend? Leave them in the comments below!

 

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Dialogue with the Deans: Legal Education & Diversity

As many current law students and recent graduates know, the legal hiring market has been particularly difficult for the last couple of years and is only slowly rebounding. We see a smaller number of clerkships at large law firms and employers that are more tentative in their hiring practices than they were in the early 2000s. As more law students are having issues finding a job, word has gotten out to potential students, and the number of people applying to law school has declined, nationally.

Dean Eric Janus

Dean Eric Janus

Associate Dean Ed Butterfoss

Associate Dean
Ed Butterfoss

As fewer people apply to law school and local law schools are accepting fewer students, we wanted to know how this is affecting diversity at their schools. In a recent roundtable discussion, leadership from the four Twin Cities law schools discussed practices and policies that they have implemented to address this new normal in legal education and the lack of diversity in the legal profession pipeline.

The roundtable participants – Associate Dean Ed Butterfoss (Hamline University School of Law), Dean Eric Janus (William Mitchell College of Law), Director of Diversity Artika Tyner (University of St. Thomas School of Law) and Dean David Wippman (University of Minnesota Law School) – cited various strategies that laws schools use to try to attract a more diverse pool of J.D. candidates, including scholarships, programs highlighting what makes the Twin Cities great, law school fairs from other regions of the country, and law school prep programs.  Despite these strategies, however, with a reduction in the incoming class size at each school, comes a decrease in the total number of diverse law students entering law school in the Twin Cities.

Employers are also increasingly seeking graduates with practical skills, reports Dean Janus.  Each of William Mitchell, Hamline and St. Thomas have implemented additional curriculum, extern- and internships and certifications aimed at developing skills law students can use to hit the ground running after passing the bar. In addition, the University of Minnesota now offers business development programming, Hamline is hoping to launch a master’s program in the study of law, and law schools offer targeted study groups and academic support for students.

Dean David Wippman

Dean David Wippman

Artika Tyner, Director of Diversity

Artika Tyner
Director of Diversity

Dean Wippman noted that the recent expansion of generally available online courses (a phenomenon also known as “MOOC Mania” for the massive open online courses, often offered free of charge) may also cause law schools to rethink the basic model of legal education, as these courses could cover topics only previously offered by law schools.

Questions from attendees spurred discussion about a recent study by Professors Schultz and Zedeck which challenges the premises underpinning law school admission decisions. Leadership, recruiters and law schools in the local community should think critically about traditional admission, recruitment and hiring models based on the competencies highlighted by this research.

By the Numbers:

Students of color make up 24% of the 2012 class at Minnesota, 19% at Hamline and 13% at each of St. Thomas and William Mitchell.

Do you want to read the results of the Schultz and Zedeck study on what makes a successful lawyer? Find out more information at the link below!

Predicting Effectiveness – Shultz & Zedeck

 
 

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7 Ways to Have Fun & Make Your Network Grow

There is one word that nobody trying to find a job or advance in their career is looking to hear less than Networking. It’s a buzz word, so often used that it instantly clicks peoples’ brains to the off position. But if networking is so ubiquitous, then why are so many people so bad at it?

Networking, in it’s lowest form, is simply making basic, human connections with people in the community. That’s it! It’s getting to know people and getting people to know you and having them like you enough for them to remember you. Networking in positions where you need to make sales, like as a lawyer in private practice, will become even more beneficial, because not only will you be able to use your connections to find employment or opportunities for professional advancement, you will also be able to use your own personal network to drive business and/or get earmarked for work assignments.

As a lawyer, networking starts in law school. Your fellow classmates will one day be your future colleagues, future clients, and future bosses. And since everyone that you meet could someday be a potential client or be connected to someone that can get you further on your path toward your goals, you might as well enjoy the time that you spend building relationships and making acquaintances and friends!

Are you at a loss for fun or interesting ways to meet new people and build relationships? Here’s a couple of ideas to help get you started.

1. Young Professionals Organizations

Young Professional organizations oftentimes give you the opportunity to show your leadership skills, when if you are just entering your field, you may not get the same opportunities at work. In addition, your work with these organizations may satisfy your need to give back to the community, if you aren’t able to do that with your job, as well!

If you live in the Twin Cities, here are some great examples:

AZUL (Minnesota Zoo)

GenYWCA

The Scene (Hennepin Theatre Trust)

Young Professionals Minneapolis

YPro (St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce)

2. Non-profit organization Boards

There is something to be said of being on the Board of a non-profit organization. Being an active, engaged, and thoughtful member of a Board will give you the opportunity to connect with fellow Board members as well as members of the community. Board service also gives you the opportunity to work on projects that you are passionate about!

Interested in Board service? Check out the Minnesota Council of Non-Profit’s job/volunteer board!

3. Sports teams

One great way to meet people is to join a sports team. Basketball, slow-pitch softball, kickball – whatever it is that you find fun. Not only can you find it enjoyable  and get in a little exercise to help reduce your stress, you can show your teammates    that you a fun person to be around, you work well on a team, are reliable, and have passion! Check with your employer to see if they ave any established teams or what their policy is for sponsoring a team. If you still live near the law school that you went to, they may have an alumni team that you an join, too!

4. Affinity bar organization galas and events

So, maybe sports aren’t your thing. Instead of putting on a team uniform, throw on    our favorite formal clothes and attend the galas put on by the various affinity bars or   other organizations around town! Some of them likely have a cost associated with attendance, but the money generally goes to a good cause! It’s important to note     that you usually don’t have to belong to the affinity group that is hosting the event, as long as you have a ticket!

For links to the local affinity bar association websites, click here!

5. Peer Mentor groups

Friends of friends are also a good place to start! Gather a group of people who you would consider peers and discuss topics that are important to being successful in your job! You can talk about time management techniques, balancing work with having children, generational differences in communication, or effective branding techniques.

6. Meetup.com

Are you brand new to the Twin Cities and don’t know very many people? Check out www.meetup.com to find groups of people who are interested in doing the same things that you like doing! Groups in the Twin Cities include a Salsa dancing group, language conversation groups, “The Monthly Pint Group”, and even a paranormal research society. Browse through the available groups, and if you don’t see one that you like, make your own!

7. Diversity in Practice events

And there is always Diversity in Practice events! Come to our annual Summer Social, sign up for our Mentoring Circles or Ambassador Program, or join one of our committees!

Do you build connections with people through any of these ways? What other fun ways do you get to know people?

 

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Program Rewind: When Generations Collide

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”  

– George Orwell

With the each new generation entering the workforce, comes new styles of communicating, new perspectives on the world, and new ideas of what is considered the right way to get things done. Oftentimes, ignorance about these varied ways of communication can lead to tension in the workplace and sometimes unfortunate perceptions of entire generations. Who is to say that communicating only via e-mail with colleagues is wrong, even when they are just down the hall? Who is to say that holding a meeting to prepare for the upcoming Board meeting is a waste of time? Each of these concepts is actually common among the generation of people that use these methods the most – Millenials and Baby Boomers, respectively.

Recently, Diversity in Practice brought in Amy Lynch, of BridgeWorks, to come address a group of attorneys as a part of our Professional Development Series. Amy stressed the importance meeting in the middle when working with colleagues from different generations. No generation has a monopoly on what is right, rather, each style of communication has its separate contexts, which make it applicable to daily life.

Do you find yourself working with people from different generations? Here are some examples on how to meet them in the middle.

Traditionalists (born prior to 1946)

  • Respect that many Traditionalists view their legacy at work as very important.
  • Face time is key. Look to Traditionalists as mentors and allow them to pass on their knowledge to you, while showing your worth by imparting knowledge about how to use new pieces of technology that your office has implemented or other things that may be beneficial for them to know.

Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)

  • Baby boomers entered the work force before the idea of a work/life balance.
  • While Boomers may have mastered the art of voice mail, digital everything may still be a little beyond their comfort zone. If you need something reviewed, try sending it via email and following up with a paper copy.
  • Baby boomers love to meet, and holding meetings may be important to gain their buy-in. For those of you who dread meetings, be prepared with a precise agenda that limits the need for follow-up meetings.

Generation X (born 1965 – 1981)

  • Gen X generally yearns for efficiency and doesn’t want to stay in the office all day. Limit ineffective meetings and be prepared.
  • Feedback is important, and often wanted immediately. Set a time with Gen Xers to determine the best time for feedback.

Millenials (born 1982 – 2000)

  • Millenials often do not look at work as a function of life, rather as part of their reality, and thus want their work to have meaning. Make sure to show them the importance of what they are doing.
  • Millenials grew up in the era of the 24 news cycle and the Internet. They are used to quick and constant communication and being able to be heard with the click of the mouse. Give Millenials an outlet for their voice to be heard.

Interested in more ways to learn how to work with other generations? Check out the books written by the Bridgeworks team:

Also, check out our Facebook page for photos of the Amy Lynch event!

What have you noticed about other generations’ communication styles? How have you adapted your behavior accordingly?

 

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Unspoken Bias and You: The Power of Micromessages

“Don’t worry, I’m still listening.”

“Here is the next candidate. Her resume is so great. Everyone in the department is excited for her.”

“I didn’t say she stole the client…”

Have you heard any of these quotes around the office? Perhaps you’ve said them recently yourself? Don’t worry, we are all guilty of using micromessages, or unspoken cues. Positive messages, or Microadvantages show a bias for, while negative messages, or Microinequities, show a bias against. In order to create and maintain an inclusive work environment, we should be aware of how these micromessages show our conscious and unconscious biases.

As a resource for attorneys in the Twin Cities, we hear from people about how others’ unconscious bias has been a major barrier to advancement within the profession and comfort at their current place of employment. The unconscious bias for some individuals, can lead to unbalanced access, and can truly impede professional development for others. As such, we thought it would be a great opportunity to bring in Stephen Young, of Insight Education Systems, who has literally written the book on micromessages (“Micromessaging: Why Great Leadership is Beyond Words”), to discuss the importance of, not only the words that you use, but also how you say them.

Below, we have included two examples of micromessages, to help set you on the right track toward being aware of your own biases, and to help identify those of others. If you want to know more, feel free to check out Mr. Young’s book.

“Micromessaging: Why Great Leadership is Beyond Words”

1. Introductions

The way in which you introduce yourself or someone else can have a major impact on the result of a meeting or relationship, because of micromessages that show bias, either real or perceived. Imagine you introduce two new colleagues to another co-worker in the following way:

“Hey, Sandra! Come meet our three newest department protoges! This is Hakeem – Harvard graduate, top of his class. Impressive, right? This is Michelle, she just got back from a year teaching English in Cambodia! And this – I’m sorry – I forgot your name…is it Meghan?”

Clearly, Meghan is going to feel a little down on herself, knowing that you almost forgot her name and didn’t remember anything that you had talked about previously. This may be the beginning of Meghan feeling on the outside looking in, which could cycle into not feeling comfortable sharing ideas or taking on leadership opportunities within the deapartment, which could ultimately lead to Meghan not being successful within your organization.

Instead, make sure to balance your introductions or allow the three new hires to introduce themselves. This will allow each of the three, to feel like they are on equal ground and have the same opportunity to succeed within your group.

2. Any other ideas?

Have you ever been in a brainstorm session, and say something that you think is insightful, only to have the moderator say, “That’s great. Any other ideas?” Mr.Youngdiscussed how we throw around words like great and terrific, to the point that they don’t mean anything, unless you back it up with discussion on the merit of the idea. By quickly moving on, the moderator showed a lack of interest, and by invoking the word other, he or she implied that they were searching for something better or an alternative option.Mr.Young says, that if a manager or discussion moderator takes time to offer a true reaction or assessment of merit of each idea, team members will be more likely to come up with ideas in a greater volume and potentially think with greater innovation in mind.

Still skeptical? Mr. Young led the following exercise, which is also included on page 161 of his book, that showed how much impact microinequities have on a person’s performance.

You will need a partner to do this exercise. One of you will be Person A, and the other Person B. Person A speaks and Person B only listens. Have Person A talk through each of the eight items in the columns below, starting with Segment 1, followed by Segment 2, making sure to audibly note when switching to the second Segment.

Segment 1Name/Tenure, Position, Responsibilities, Work Challenge

Segment 2Previous role, Organization, Responsibilities, Current project

During Segment 1, Person B should actively listen, with all attention to the speaker, including eye contact, smiles, nods, and audible “mhms.” During Segment 2, however, Person B should stop paying attention completely – break eye contact, check their phone, talk to someone else, and so forth. Now switch!

How did you feel while you were speaking in Segment 1? How did this change in Segment 2? Did you notice any differences in your performance in the two segments? Do you find yourself battling micromessages in your job or daily life? Tell us what you think!

 

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DIVERSITY: 5 Tips to Doing Diversity Right

If you’re finding this blog and Twin Cities Diversity in Practice for the first time, you’re probably wondering, “Why do you do what you do?” We at Twin Cities Diversity in Practice know that diversity and inclusion in the legal profession is vital, not only for the health of the industry, but also to best serve clients and the community. There are many facets to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, but we work primarily on diversity from a race and ethnicity perspective. We have strategically included concepts of inclusion into our work, because a more inclusive workplace helps break down barriers that people of color face in the current legal landscape.

Through our efforts in diversity and inclusion, we have found some key guidelines to work by that all people who are in management, recruiting, and diversity/inclusion work should take into consideration in their practice.

1. Avoid tokenism.

Identity is complicated! Asking an individual to speak for an entire community is not only a lot of pressure, but can be misleading. For instance, the experience of a Latina who grew up in an urban community is different than a Latina from suburban community. Or maybe it isn’t. Every person brings a different vantage point to the table, given their race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion (the list goes on). So perhaps that Latina from the city has more in common with the Latina from the suburbs, than she would with another urban Latina, due to other parts of her identity. But because we have chosen to only look at her gender, ethnicity, and location, and haven’t gotten to know her or her story, it is not possible to make such a conclusion.

2. Move past “Check-the-Box” mentality.

Making and measuring progress is important, but how do we define progress? Reaching a certain number or percentage of people of color in your department is great goal, but that metric is superficial. Work to dig deeper with your metrics to focus on differences in background and thought, or diversity within diversity. Also, are you just hiring your way to your threshold? Making sure the people of color within your department are a comfortable, successful, contributing members of your workplace and corporate culture, are allowed to effectively bring aspects of themselves into client relations and work product, and can see potential for growth within your organization are important for retention, morale, and employee buy-in and success.

3. Intentionally balance access.

Access is the mechanism which allows people to succeed. Repeated opportunity to prove your skills to senior attorneys, have face time with clients, and get regular feedback are all important to being a successful lawyer. Privilege that you are born with oftentimes gives certain individuals a higher chance of gaining access, because if a junior attorney has a similar interest or background as more senior attorneys in your organization, they’re more likely to be able to find their way into an inner circle. They’re more likely to be able to speak the “code” that others at the firm speak. They’ll understand idiomatic, regional, and class-based references that give them extra opportunities to prove their worth, socially. Being aware of these biases, which are likely unconscious, and working to intentionally balance access, is important because it allows all young attorneys the opportunity to succeed within your organization.

4. Focus on innovation.

Nobody is doing everything right. Some firms and organizations may be on the right track, but diversity and inclusion is still a major industry concern. Diversity has been lacking in the legal industry since its formation, so institutional change may be needed. Implement relevant best practices, but since the current structure isn’t working, its up to you to break the mold! Work with your organization to decide what your approach will be. You’ll never know the results until you try it.

5. Be authentic.

Nothing is worse than an organization that doesn’t practice what they preach. You may not know everything there is to know about diversity and inclusion, but if you truly care about creating a workplace that is safe and accepting of everyone, people will take notice and your efforts will shine through. Authenticity goes a long way in complicated tasks like diversity and inclusion efforts, and knowing when you don’t know the answer and asking for help can overshadow your subject knowledge deficit.

Which of these tasks will help bring your organization to the next level? What other tips do you have? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

 

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Welcome to our Blog!

Break into Law is something we hope will be a dynamic hub of conversation, with room for more detailed thoughts than a Facebook post or Twitter feed usually allows. It’s our opportunity to expand on topics that we start exploring, some of the subjects you’ll hear about at a Twin Cities Diversity in Practice event, or a relevant topic that’s come up in the news.

Would you like to add to the conversation? We want to see our list of contributors grow; please send a note to Matt Buechner [mbuechner@diversityinpractice.org] with a brief outline of what you wish to post about, and let’s start another conversation. Or even ideas on topics you’d like to read about here in this space that may not be written by you.

Do you have an opinion about something you read? We like to see diversity in all things, including points of view, provided the tone remains civil and respectful.  That’s why all comments will be moderated in the posts to come.

We hope you visit often, and find the thoughts shared here to be useful. And if you enjoy your visits, take a moment to subscribe and tell your friends. The more, the merrier!

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Welcome

 

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