Recent Developments in Diversity--Chicago, Texas, California, Connecticut, Maine
The National Law Journal has carried stories on several firms or regions where diversity has taken a front seat. On July 2, 2006, it reported that several Chicago firms had announced their intention to build their diversity numbers, responding to the Chicago Bar Association’s initiative, the “Alliance for Women.” So far, the firms involved are outperforming both their old diversity percentages and the national averages, climbing to as many as 27% female partners. The key, they report, is not in their hiring, which has long been attentive to females, but in creating better environments for female advancement.
Similarly, the NLJ reported on July 10, 2006 that firms in Texas are making a concerted push to raise diversity levels, hiring internal diversity directors, moving women into leadership roles, and creating scholarship and other support programs. Their efforts have resulted in increased women and minority percentages.
California’s new law that requires managers in businesses with 50 or more employees to undergo two hours of training on sexually harassment each year has been applied to law firms, possibly both partners and associates. Connecticut and Maine also require mandatory harassment training.
The California State Bar is also working to improve diversity by trying to set up a support network that would help guide poor kids of all races into a legal career, as well as crack down on not only harassment, but simply rude, uncivilized behavior from attorneys.
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