Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Center for Legal Inclusiveness and what is its mission?
The Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado. It was formed in October 2007 and originally called the "Colorado Campaign for Inclusive Excellence" (CCIE).
CLI is dedicated to advancing diversity in the legal profession by actively educating and supporting private and public sector legal organizations in their own individual campaigns to create cultures of inclusion.
What is Inclusiveness?
Inclusiveness is a new paradigm for the legal profession. It is much more expansive than traditional diversity efforts and acts as a catalyst for diversity by addressing deep systemic issues that cause higher attrition rates for diverse and female attorneys.
Inclusiveness maintains the goal of increasing historically under-represented groups but employs completely different methods; namely, the removal of hidden barriers through structural, cultural and behavioral changes in legal organizations.
Inclusiveness helps organizations sustain their long-term diversity goals by creating workplaces where diverse and female attorneys will want to stay and will thrive.
CLI’s comprehensive, six-step inclusiveness program provides a detailed framework for implementing inclusiveness in the legal workplace - the next frontier for diversity.
What is the difference between diversity and inclusiveness?
Inclusiveness efforts fundamentally value diversity. Diversity efforts fundamentally value numbers.
Diversity: Past diversity efforts have largely focused on getting diverse and female attorneys in the door without significant regard for retaining and advancing them. Because of this, most legal organizations have a revolving door of diverse and female attorneys. Diversity refers to "the numbers" and to initiatives intended to increase the numbers of attorneys from these groups. So long as the underlying culture of an organization is not inclusive, diversity efforts will fail to achieve any measure of success.
Inclusiveness: In an inclusive workplace, the organization values the perspectives and contributions of all people and strives to incorporate their needs and viewpoints into the organizational culture at all levels. Inclusiveness requires the participation of everyone in the organization. Just as historically underrepresented groups in the legal profession must be included, majority attorneys and staff must also participate in the removal of barriers (mostly unconscious) created by the dominant culture.
Watch a short CLI Quick Concept video: "The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusiveness."
What is the foundation of CLI's inclusiveness program and who is implementing it?
The Foundation of CLI's Inclusiveness Program
CLI has developed a comprehensive inclusiveness program to provide resources and support to legal organizations that want to make real progress in diversity and inclusiveness. CLI helps organizations develop awareness of the barriers that research shows frequently marginalize diverse and female attorneys and helps organizations develop strategies to overcome those obstacles to create workplaces where diverse and female attorneys will want to stay and thrive.
Central to CLI's inclusiveness program is CLI's Inclusiveness Manual - Beyond Diversity: Inclusiveness in the Legal Workplace, which was designed specifically to guide legal organizations through the process of creating an inclusive culture. This manual was adapted from The Denver Foundation's inclusiveness workbook Inclusiveness at Work.
In 2008, CLI created a real-world learning laboratory to test the principles of the Inclusiveness Manual by recruiting legal organizations to implement the program. The group is now called the "Inclusiveness Network" and is comprised of law firms, corporate legal departments, and government legal offices. They share their experiences, receive substantive educational experiences from local and national experts, and create models for other legal organizations to follow.
Organizations Implementing CLI's Inclusiveness Program
Inclusiveness Network: There are 26 legal organizations formally implementing CLI’s inclusiveness program through the Inclusiveness Network. They meet quarterly and work collaboratively to support each other’s efforts. The Inclusiveness Network includes - 14 law firms, 4 corporate legal departments, and 8 government legal offices. The first cohort of the Inclusiveness Network was formed in 2008 (IN08) and two additional cohorts were created in 2011 - the IN11 cohort and the USAO/DA cohort. CLI oversees the work of the Inclusiveness Network. Dr. Arin Reeves, Nextions LLC, a national leadership and inclusiveness expert from Chicago regularly provides consulting to the group. If your organization wishes to participate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Learn more about the Network and participating members.
- Review case studies of members (current case studies are available to subscribers of www.legalinclusiveness.org).
Subscribers to the Inclusiveness Manual: Additional legal organizations are independently implementing CLI's six-step program by subscribing to the Inclusiveness Manual website www.legalinclusiveness.org and utilizing its many valuable resources and tools.
What else does CLI do?
CLI has become the foremost resource for legal organizations seeking inclusiveness expertise because it has created innovative tools, programs and initiatives, such as:
The Only Inclusiveness Manual for the Legal Profession: CLI has developed a one-of-a-kind, “how-to” guide for the legal profession, Beyond Diversity: Inclusiveness in the Legal Workplace. The Inclusiveness Manual is available by subscription at www.legalinclusiveness.org, in addition to other tools, such as a library of videos and articles; samples of policies, core competencies, and surveys; Ask the Expert; and more.
Annual Conference: The nonprofit also hosts an annual conference, the Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit, which features distinguished national experts speaking on cutting-edge inclusiveness topics. The Summit is the premier inclusiveness and diversity conference for the legal profession and is held in early spring.
Training and Consulting: CLI provides a variety of interactive and dynamic inclusiveness training opportunities:
- CLI's Inclusiveness Institute
- Inclusiveness training for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Academy for Leadership & Inclusion
Group Implementation of CLI's Inclusiveness Program: Since 2008, CLI's Inclusiveness Network has helped CLI member law firms, corporate law departments, and government law offices implement CLI's six-step inclusiveness program. The Inclusiveness Network is a powerful and effective model for legal organizations that want to take their diversity efforts to the next level.
Retention Initiatives: CLI has created several successful retention initiatives that engage legal professionals from top management to new attorneys:
- Under the guidance of CLI, 20 Colorado GCs and over 40 law firm managing partners collaborate on initiatives to retain and advance diverse and female attorneys. They have created a new diversity and inclusiveness model for legal leaders with action items. GCs also participate in luncheons with diverse associates from CLI member organizations, as well as occasional focus groups. Learn more about the .
- Retention Working Group: This volunteer group of legal professionals advises CLI on ways to create innovative programming and services to support legal organizations and the professional development of individual attorneys. The Retention Working Group works in conjunction with the GC/MP Retention Roundtable.
- Step Up for Diversity: This action-item based campaign encourages individual attorneys to take small steps that will make a big impact on improving diversity and inclusiveness in the legal profession. Most recently, Colorado corporate law departments are partnering with their outside counsel (that are members of CLI) on action items that will help increase opportunities for diverse and female attorneys. Learn more about Step Up for Diversity.
Learn more about additional CLI programs.
Who are CLI's Board of Directors?
The CLI Board of Directors is a diverse group comprised of general counsel, managing partners of law firms, federal judges, senior government attorneys, the law deans of Colorado's law schools, legal professionals, and representatives from diversity organizations and specialty bar groups.
How did CLI get started?
In 2006, a group of lawyers in the Denver legal community came together under the leadership of the two Colorado law deans to form the Deans’ Diversity Council (DDC) to address the lack of diversity in the profession. The DDC was convened by Beto Juárez, former Dean of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and David Getches, former Dean of the University of Colorado Law School. Participating members of the DDC represented top leaders from every sector of the legal community - law schools, law firms, judiciary, government, public interest, and bar associations.
In 2007, the Colorado Campaign for Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) was formed as a nonprofit in order to continue the work started by DDC in the areas of pipeline, recruitment and retention of diverse attorneys. Many of the original DDC members still serve on CLI’s Board of Directors.
In the fall of 2010, CCIE began doing business as the Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI).
Today, CLI's initiatives are focused on helping organizations retain and advance diverse attorneys. Many of CLI's innovative programs and tools are national models.
How can my organization or I get involved with CLI?
Organizations: There are three ways for organizations to get involved with CLI:
- Support CLI by becoming a member or sponsor.
- Subscribe to CLI's online Inclusiveness Manual at www.legalinclusiveness.org
- Participate in CLI's educational/training opportunities/initiatives - contact CLI to schedule training, attend the annual Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit and/or Inclusiveness Institute, participate in CLI's other programs and initiatives.
Individuals: See the list of CLI Volunteer Opportunities.
What are the statistics regarding legal diversity?
People of Color: Racial and ethnic minorities comprise approximately 33 percent of the U.S. population but only 11 - 12 percent of all lawyers. Only 4 percent of partners in private practices are people from traditionally underrepresented groups, while in corporate America, only 9.4 percent of general counsel are minorities.
Women: Although women comprise nearly 50 percent of law students, new census figures report women held only 33.4 percent of legal jobs - including lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers in 2010. The number is up from 29.2 percent in 2000, however, there are few women equity partners and wage gaps continue for women.
LGBT Attorneys: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender attorneys represent approximately 2.07 percent of attorneys compared to an estimated 3.5 - 5 percent of the general population.
Attrition Rates in Private Practice: Minority attorneys, and particularly, female attorneys of color, have higher attrition rates than non-diverse attorneys in private practice. The ABA's "Visible Invisibility" report has determined that by the 8th year, the attrition rate among minority female associates tops 86 percent, which explains why less than 2 percent of partners in larger law firms are minority women.
Pipeline to Law School: Since 1993, law school class sizes have increased, as have the number of law schools. Yet, representation of Mexican-American and African-American students in law school has decreased during this period. According to Colombia Law School and the Society of American Law Teachers, a higher percentage of applicants in those groups are "shut out" and denied acceptance by all the schools to which they apply. Moreover, the number of Mexican-American and African-American students graduating from law school has also not markedly increased during this time frame. In 1993, there were 4,142 combined graduates from these groups, and in 2008, there were only 4,060 graduates.
What are some of the reasons to increase diversity and create cultures of inclusion within the legal profession?
Diversity and inclusiveness are important to the business and practice of law. Below are just a few of the reasons legal organizations should continue to make increasing diversity and inclusiveness a priority:
1. Organizational Effectiveness: Empirical research has shown that diversity in the workplace leads to increased creativity and innovation. Organizations that are more creative and innovative are better able to serve their clients. Inclusive environments and cultures help retain diverse people which, in turn, helps with recruiting more diverse people.
2. Economics: Diversity enhances an organization's competitiveness - for both talent and clients. This is especially true in the private sector with corporate legal counsel's push for more diversity among law firms with The Call to Action initiative.
3. Liability: Diverse and inclusive organizations limit their exposure to lawsuits based on discrimination.
4. Moral/Ethical/Equity: The legal profession is the vanguard in our society defending justice and pursuing liberty for all citizens. Thus, it should lead the way toward full inclusion. As Justice O'Connor stated in Grutter v. Bollinger, "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized."
Read CLI's article Diversity Really Does Matter, which was published in the September 2012 issue of the NALP Bulletin. Also review the introduction to the Inclusiveness Manual - Beyond Diversity: Inclusiveness in the Legal Workplace, which outlines numerous reasons why diversity matters.