FROM THE CHAIR
Executive Director Karen Gould highlights the recently released report from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change *(the “Well-Being Report”) in her column in the Virginia Lawyer magazine this month. The Report, aptly described by Ms. Gould as a “thoughtful amalgam of findings, recommendations and resources”, issued by the Task Force on which Chief Justice Lemons is a member, lists its recommendations at pp. 12-46 of the Report. Among the Recommendations, and of special significance to the Diversity Conference, is Recommendation 6, the Promotion of Civility, Collegiality and Respectful Engagement Throughout the Profession. The Report states what we have long recognized and promote as part of our mission, that organizational diversity and inclusion bears the fruit of lawyer excellence and well-being, for our profession and to the public it serves. The Report recognizes that a lack of diversity and inclusion is an “entrenched problem the legal profession”, and that “a significant contributor to well-being is a sense of organizational belongingness, which has been defined as feeling personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others. A weak sense of belonging is strongly associated with depressive symptoms”. Recommendations 6.1 and 6.2 of the Well-Being Report are to Promote Diversity and Inclusivity and to Create Meaningful Mentoring and Sponsorship Programs. The Report recommends urgent prioritization of diversity and inclusion through initiatives to foster inclusiveness and respectful engagement, such as scholarships, law school orientation programs that highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion, legal mentorship and sponsorship, CLE programs focused on diversity in the legal profession, and pipeline programming for low income high school and college students.
The ideals set forth in Recommendation 6 of the Well-Being Report are shared by the Diversity Conference in its mission statement and goals. Through its programming and coalition building, the Diversity Conference seeks to advance and support many of the initiatives suggested by the Task Force, from CLE programs focused on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession to pipeline programming for low income and at risk high school students, from supporting diversity initiatives in law firms and in the academic and business sectors, to the creation of meaningful mentoring and sponsorship programs.
We need you, the members of the Diversity Conference, to help us in our commitment to advance and maintain these initiatives and to add your ideas for the creation of new ways we can promote diversity and inclusion in the bar and work to ensure that our legal system is responsive to the legal needs of the people of Virginia. Please get involved in one of our committees described in this newsletter. The Law Student Committee, for example, will once again host its Mentor/Mentee Initiative at the Annual Meeting, sponsoring two law students from each Virginia law school to attend the Annual Meeting and be paired with a Diversity Conference member mentor. The Pipeline and Community Projects Committee promotes the Hill Tucker Pre-Law Institute, the week long legal education scholarship program for high school students of diverse and academically at risk backgrounds from across Virginia. This past year’s rewarding program is highlighted in this newsletter. The Membership Committee promotes outreach to membership along with social and fellowship opportunities. The Annual Meeting/CLE Committee plans the showcase CLE programming for the Annual Meeting and the Fore Diversity Golf Tournament. Join us this year to help prepare for the June 2018 Annual Meeting, where the Diversity Conference is very excited to sponsor the topic of Racism, Rallies and Riots: What Does the First Amendment Protect, and What Limits are There for Citizens, Local Governments and Law Enforcement, which we hope will be a most dynamic and thought provoking program. For those of you who are e-technology and social media savvy, unlike me, there is a need for your talent on the Public Relations/Social Media Committee. Share your ideas for future issues of Invictus. There are many ways you can get involved, from volunteering at a local Rule of Law program to organizing CLE Programming, bring your fresh ideas for new initiatives that can be advanced by the Diversity Conference for the benefit of our members and the public we serve. As always, encourage your colleagues to join the Diversity Conference. Please contact me at Carole@chcapsalislaw.com, or visit our website at http://www.vsb.org/site/conferences/diversity. Not a member? please join us by filling out our membership application found on our website.
*The Report can be found on the VSB website at http://www.vsb.org/site/news/item/lawyer_well_being.