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Lawyers For One America is a collaboration of many different legal organizations. While we share a universal commitment to increasing diversity in the legal profession and to ensuring access to legal services for communities of color, we recognize that there are many ways to accomplish those goals. The following Recommendations reflect the consensus of the group collaboration. Not every LFOA organization endorses every Recommendation, and there are alternative approaches that some LFOA organizations would adopt.

It is LFOA's collective hope that the readers of this Report will find a wealth of ideas here that will inspire their own work toward ensuring diversity and access.

To ensure that the legal profession reflects the diversity of the American society we serve, and that our members provide a full range of legal services to communities of color so that their residents can enjoy equal access to the legal and judicial system, Lawyers For One America makes the following recommendations:

Legal Profession

  1. That the legal profession create, develop, implement and support a national, institutional, not-for-profit enterprise committed to increasing the number of lawyers of color in all sectors and at all levels of the profession, to address the profession's current insufficient racial and ethnic diversity.

  2. That the legal profession create, develop, implement and support nationwide projects to increase legal resources for people of color. These projects include pro bono assistance by corporate counsel and law firms, and comprehensive resources and communications platforms to educate and network lawyers involved in pro bono activities.

  3. That the legal profession create, develop, implement and support a national program offering scholarships to enable more people of color to attend law school. It is also recommended that lawyers, law firms and corporations each support at least one law school scholarship program furthering diversity in the profession.

  4. That the legal profession, when creating, developing, implementing and supporting diversity and pro bono programs, reach out to all communities of color. All too often some groups, e.g., American Indians, are overlooked when these programs are created and implemented.

  5. That the legal profession urge Congress to fully fund the Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program, to demonstrate the nation's commitment to providing equal opportunity for students of color to pursue a legal education. The Marshall Program, administered by the Council on Legal Educational Opportunity (CLEO), is often the key to opening the doors of opportunity to students of color and other disadvantaged persons.

  6. That state and federal judges, including the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, increase the number of persons of color serving as judicial clerks, to more accurately reflect the communities they serve.

  7. That lawyers in all sectors of the profession seek to mentor students of color at law schools, colleges, secondary and primary schools. This includes lawyers affirmatively contacting schools to offer their mentoring services, and that mentoring begin at the earliest point possible to prepare college students for the law school experience, and law students for the practice of law.

  8. That the legal profession urge the legal media to be more sensitive regarding the depiction of persons of color in reports, articles, editorials and broadcasts. It is recommended that the legal media promote a more balanced perspective in its publications and broadcasts regarding issues affecting people of color.

  9. That the legal profession urge the legal media to ensure its executive officers, editorial management, reporters, and sales and marketing staff are as diverse as the constituencies they serve, enabling a diversity of views to be offered in print and broadcasts.

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    Law Firms and Corporations

  10. That law firms and corporate employers of lawyers demonstrate their commitment to providing pro bono services to communities of color by articulating their organization-wide commitments at the highest levels of management; by establishing organization-wide goals for pro bono work; by ensuring that work assignments, evaluations, advancement and compensation consistently and genuinely support lawyers' pro bono participation; and by actively providing pro bono legal services to people of color, as well as to community, civil rights and public interest groups serving communities of color.

  11. That law firms and corporate employers of lawyers establish concrete, quantifiable, organization-wide inspirational goals, to assist in communicating support for pro bono services, and to assess the overall effectiveness of their pro bono programs. Many firms across the nation have adopted a pro bono standard of 3% or 5% of attorneys' total billable hours. This is, respectively, an average of 60 or 100 pro bono hours per attorney, based on 2000 billable hours per year.

  12. That law firms and corporations adopt specific and meaningful voluntary percentage goals, based on the demographics of their communities and the communities they serve, for hiring, retaining and promoting lawyers of color within their organizations, for a timetable not to exceed ten years. The following voluntary timetables and percentage goals for lawyers of color/total lawyers were recently adopted by law firms and corporations in the San Francisco Bay Area. These goals were based on their community's circumstances and their progress toward voluntary goals set at lower levels ten years ago. They serve as a model for the type of goals that may be appropriate for other law firms and corporations:

    Year Associate/Staff Counsel Partner/Senior Counsel
    2005 35% 12%
    2010 40% 18%

    It is also recommended that law firms and corporations review progress toward these goals annually, emphasizing accountability and enhancing retention programs. Appendix A also offers Model Programs and Practices in Diversity for Law Firms and Corporations, as do many programs and practices in the Declarations of Action section of this Report.

  13. That law firms and corporate employers of lawyers use their organizations' entire staff of attorneys (including business, corporate, litigation, personnel, real estate, tax, and transactional lawyers) in pro bono work to benefit people of color who do not currently have access to legal services. This includes pro bono assistance to nonprofit organizations that support communities of color, and other work to help people of color enter the economic mainstream. It is recommended that lawyers in these different disciplines help their clients to become self-sufficient by giving assistance in capital-raising activities, in operating businesses that generate jobs, in creating new service and community institutions, and in developing affordable housing.

  14. That corporations adopt and implement an outside counsel retention policy that includes the retention of minority-owned law firms and lawyers of color at majority-owned law firms. It is also recommended that General Counsels and other senior corporate managers inform the managing partners and other influential partners of outside law firms of their corporations' strong commitment to diversity, and their expectation of diversity within the law firms representing their corporations.

  15. That General Counsels and other senior corporate managers request that majority law firms assign lawyers of color to responsible positions in their corporations' transactions, litigation, and other matters; and request outside law firms to provide diversity information by setting out the legal fees attributable to the work of partners and associates of color either in periodic reports, or on billings.

  16. That corporations move their legal work from law firms not responding to the corporations' requests for diversity in the lawyers handling its matters, to law firms that are responsive to their request for diversity. It is recommended that both firms be told clearly why the work is being moved.

    Bar Associations and Public Interest Legal Service Providers

  17. That national and local bar associations, and public interest legal service providers make diversity a top priority, at every organizational level, including their boards of directors, committee chairs, and officers. It is recommended that these organizations ensure that their boards, officers, management and staff fully reflect the diversity of their communities.

  18. That national and local bar associations and public interest legal service providers expand their pro bono services to persons and communities of color, and enhance partnerships with civil rights organizations.

  19. That national and local bar associations sponsor and promote programs to provide legal services to under-served communities of color, especially programs providing business and transactional assistance aimed at ensuring economic self-sufficiency. It is also recommended that they strongly encourage their memberships to participate actively in such programs.

  20. That national and local bar associations promote and sponsor training and informational programs to prepare lawyers of color for the judiciary.

  21. That national and local bar associations and other public interest legal service providers periodically review their outreach and networking programs, to ensure that they offer an appropriate representation of bilingual lawyers, staff, and publications. It is also recommended that they provide information regarding their proficiency in languages other than English to the constituencies they serve.

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    Law Schools

  22. That law schools make available to all students at least one well-supervised law-related experiential opportunity that exposes them to the legal needs of under-served communities, and to the ways in which lawyers can meet those needs. It is recommended that law schools require students' participation, or find ways to attract majority participation. It is further recommended that experiential opportunities are offered and curricular innovations are implemented to examine access to justice issues for people of color. In planning and implementing these programs, it is recommended that law schools consider and respond to the educational and economic development needs of communities of color in close proximity to their schools.

  23. That the legal profession object to and discourage publication of law school rankings on any basis, including rankings on mathematical formulae and/or reputation. These weights have been found to be arbitrary, and overlook excellent schools within a given community, state or region.

  24. That law schools not give the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) undue weight in the admissions process. It is recommended that the LSAT be used as only one of several criteria for evaluating potential students, in combination with undergraduate grade point averages, community service, and life experiences. It is also recommended that law schools avoid the use of LSAT cut-off scores, which may have a greater adverse impact upon students of color; and ensure that all parties in the admissions process know and comply with the Law School Admission Council's Statement of Good Admission Practices and Cautionary Policies Concerning LSAT Scores and Related Services.

  25. That law schools adopt a formal policy to encourage and support faculty members to perform pro bono work.

  26. That law schools integrate Federal Indian law into mainstream law school curricula. American Indians, because of the sovereign status of tribal governments, are subject to a comprehensive body of law that does not apply to other Americans. [Note: Title 25 of the United States Code is "Indians".] Law schools are in a unique position to expose future attorneys to Federal Indian law to the benefit of the students, and simultaneously raise awareness of Indian legal issues.

  27. That law schools develop or enhance their commitment to loan forgiveness programs for students who commit to serve under-served communities of color.

  28. That law schools make diversity a top priority in their student bodies, faculties, and administrations.

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