Compiled for the LCLD Board of Directors every Wednesday, this digest is designed to brief you on the latest headlines about LCLD Members and organizations, as well as thought-provoking articles on diversity in the legal profession, talent development, mentoring, and leadership. Past issues of the Digest are also archived on the LCLD web site.
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1. The Power of Authentic Storytelling: The Path to Leadership for Women in Law is Bumpy – Better Get Going
Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, 5/27/16
Female lawyers are rejecting the “one shoe fits all” model of leadership in favor of one that allows for multiple career tracks, bumps along the way, and transparency around what it takes to be a leader, says Megan Belcher of ConAgra Foods. The most successful initiatives are those that use authentic storytelling to provide women with actionable, flexible development tools, and help women build meaningful and strategic relationships. “There is tremendous power in knowing that you’re not the only person who has fought a battle… Having very successful lawyers acknowledge that the process can sometimes be messy and uncomfortable drives greater courage and grit in those who are still on the path.”
The New York Times, 6/7/16
In 1976, two would-be police officers sued the District of Columbia for a discriminatory assessment test: “Test 21 can be seen as part of a long American tradition – from grandfather clauses to literacy tests – of seemingly race-neutral measures functioning in a discriminatory manner.” However, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the District, saying that while the results of the test were unequal, “discriminatory purpose” could not be proved. On the 40th anniversary of Washington v. Davis, law professor Osagie K. Obasogie calls upon the court to rethink its commitment to racial equality and equal protection: “Reducing [the Equal Protection Clause] to a judicial examination of individual mindsets as opposed to being attentive to the structural nature of racism is a mockery of history, justice, and common sense.”
The Atlantic, 6/6/16
The success of many Asian Americans is often held up as proof that racial stereotypes can be favorable, and that American meritocracy should still be the ideal. But this myth can have harmful effects – it places pressure on Asian Americans to ignore discrimination and harassment, and disregards the fact that distinct groups like Laotian or Filipino Americans remain overrepresented in lower-wage jobs. "This dynamic can leave Asian Americans without the collective memory or tools to challenge racial discrimination when it occurs."
Above the Law, 6/3/16
Despite the fact that more than 20 percent of law school graduates have been minorities since 2002, the percentage of minority partners rose less than one percent this year. Hiring of African-American attorneys has also declined and attrition remains disproportionate, meaning law firms employ fewer black lawyers today than they did eight years ago. Law firms need to focus less on the pipeline getting minorities into the profession and more on keeping them there.