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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Legal Profession: Why it is important, Barriers That Exist, and the Importance of Well-being


Level: Intermediate
Runtime: 63 minutes
Recorded Date: March 15, 2021
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Agenda

  • The positive impacts of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession
  • The topic of implicit bias, including how biases can create barriers to hiring, promotion, retention, and other challenges in the legal profession, and how biases can be exacerbated while working remotely
  • Considerations for identifying and interrupting biases and developing cultural competence
  • The dimensions of lawyer well-being and the intersection between wellness and diversity, equity, and inclusion
Runtime: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Recorded: March 15, 2021

Description

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been a topic of discussion in the legal profession for years. However, while increasingly more organizations are being proactive about DEI, there is still a lot more to be done to foster workplaces and a profession where everyone feels respected, valued, heard, and supported, and where equitable outcomes are achieved.

A frequently discussed barrier to moving the needle forward is bias. Biases, such as unconscious, affinity, and confirmation, among others, can affect a diverse attorney's ability to get hired and advance through the ranks of a law firm and the legal profession all while receiving a competitive salary and benefits compared to those who traditionally have advanced to the highest levels of law firms and the legal profession. These biases can also impact our interactions with clients and others within the legal system, as well as degrade our decision making in the delivery of services.

Biases can affect our overall well-being, particularly our emotional, occupational, and social well-being. However, wellness is not the absence of issues, including diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges. Legal professionals can benefit by bringing awareness to unconscious drivers and as a result, better understand the interrelatedness of DEI and wellness.

Join us as Lea S. Gutierrez, Litigation Group Manager and Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois, German Gomez, Chair of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility's (CPR) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and Jessica Chinnadurai, Advisory Committee of the ABA's Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) discuss DEI and related issues in the legal profession.

This program was recorded on March 15th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association

Panelists

Jessica Chinnadurai

Copyright Registration Specialist
U.S. Copyright Office

Jessica Chinnadurai is a Copyright Registration Specialist at the United States Copyright Office. She was apponitmented to the Advisory Committee for the ABA's Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP).

Jessica earned her JD at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2018.

German Gomez

Assistant General Counsel
Hogan Lovells

German Gomez is an Assistant General Counsel at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. He helps clients navigate the complexity of compliance with professional responsibility, legal ethics, and conflicts of interest rules and regulations related to the daily practice of law in both law firms and in-house legal departments. He also advises clients on the application of U.S. Government ethics laws, rules, and regulations, including the standards of conduct for executive branch employees, financial conflicts of interest, and post-Government employment restrictions. German also advises clients on issues affecting diverse workforces and specifically focuses on training professional staff on the negative effects of implicit bias during engagement, management, and promotion of employees.

Before joining Hogan Lovells, German served as an Assistant General Counsel with the General Counsel's Office of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). At the DOJ, German provided legal advice and counsel to the U.S. Attorney community on a wide variety of matters involving ethics, conflicts of interest, and professional responsibility rules and regulations. German also provided advice and counsel on the interpretation and application of federal employment laws and regulations and defended the DOJ in employment litigation matters involving claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Merit System Protection Board (MSPB).

German has extensive experience addressing diversity and inclusion issues affecting the legal profession, specifically the lack of representation of women and minorities in the workplace. At the DOJ, German was a member of the Diversity Committee where his duties also included addressing issues affecting the DOJ’s diverse workforce and training the professional staff on the negative effects of implicit bias during engagement, management, and promotion of employees. German also speaks to national, local and affinity bar associations across the United States on the negative impact of unconscious bias in the legal profession.

Currently, German serves as Chair of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility's (CPR) Diversity Committee. According to the CPR’s mission statement, the CPR seeks to foster an environment of inclusion and to identify and remove barriers to the participation of lawyers of color, women lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) lawyers in the achievement of the CPR’s mission. In his capacity as Chair of the Diversity Committee, German was instrumental in drafting the CPR’s Diversity & Inclusion Three-Year Plan (2020 – 2022) that is intended to address long standing inequities in the legal profession through the promotion of ABA Goal III, ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), the Mansfield Rule and the CPR’s mission to identify and remove barriers to the participation of lawyers of color, women lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, and LGBT lawyers.

German also serves on the ABA Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. The Advisory Council includes the Chairs of all of the Goal III Entities of the ABA who meet quarterly to collaborate and communicate on diversity and inclusion efforts and initiatives. The Advisory Council connects groups within the ABA to share expertise, publicize initiatives, provide support, and ultimately hold each other accountable on efforts to eliminate bias & enhance diversity across the ABA.

German obtained his masters in Human Resources Strategies from Georgetown University in 2014 where his master’s thesis topic was “The Negative Impact of Unconscious Bias on Blacks in the U.S. Workforce”. He speaks nationally on the topic of unconscious bias in the legal profession.

Lea S. Gutierrez

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Cook County State's Attorneys' Office

Lea S. Gutierrez is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office where she leads the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives designed to optimize organizational culture and align the organization’s DEI goals with organizational outcomes.

Prior to joining the State’s Attorney’s office, Ms. Gutierrez was Litigation Group Manager and Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (ARDC), where she investigated and prosecuted allegations of lawyer misconduct.

In addition to her role as a litigator, Ms. Gutierrez led the ARDC’s efforts to recruit diverse attorneys, promote a culture of inclusion, and create methods for increased public accessibility to the ARDC. She received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University in Virginia, her law degree from Temple University School of Law in Pennsylvania and her Masters of Forensic Sciences from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. She also received her certificate in Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management from Georgetown University in Washington D.C and her Graduate Certificate in Organizational Behavior from Harvard Extension School.

For three years, she served as Co-Chair of the YLS Professional Responsibility Committee of the Chicago Bar Association and she is currently the special advisor to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professional Discipline. She has been a presenter at various bar association and law firm events on topics related to professional responsibility, lawyer regulation, and diversity and inclusion. She also serves as liaison to the ISBA’s Special Committee on Racial Inequality, serves on the Chicago Bar Association’s YLS Racial Justice Coalition, and serves on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She has been a presenter at various bar association and law firm events on topics related to professional responsibility, lawyer regulation, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.


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