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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Law Firms and Corporations
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
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
and Public Interest Legal Service Providers
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.
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.
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.
national and local bar associations promote and sponsor training and informational
programs to prepare lawyers of color for the judiciary.
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.
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.
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.
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
law schools adopt a formal policy to encourage and support faculty members to
perform pro bono work.
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.
law schools develop or enhance their commitment to loan forgiveness programs for
students who commit to serve under-served communities of color.
law schools make diversity a top priority in their student bodies, faculties,
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