Diversity & Inclusion in the Wisconsin Legal System
When a concern was raised regarding the issue of diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, Wisconsin Bar Leadership committed to a formal effort to reevaluate how the Bar could better promote diversity and inclusion in Wisconsin. In December 2012, President-Elect Patrick J. Fiedler directed the creation of the Diversity Task Force which was charged to:
“Determine the role of the State Bar in promoting and furthering diversity within the law schools, the profession and the State Bar by identifying an approach to diversity that will serve the Wisconsin legal profession. This includes creating the State Bar’s definition of “diversity”, a future committee structure, organization wide diversity initiatives as well as the future of the Diversity Clerkship Program and diversity based CLE programs. In addition, the Task Force will develop an action plan for the implementation of identified changes to create leadership opportunities for diverse lawyers with Wisconsin and the legal profession and articulate how diversity should inform, shape and influence the work of the State Bar across the organization.”
The Diversity Task Force reviewed efforts from other State Bars and the American Bar Association; engaged in 15 listening sessions with a variety of groups who represent stakeholders in the Wisconsin legal profession; examined the State Bar’s past history in addressing diversity and inclusion; and assessed the viability of existing programming. After all the data was collected, the Diversity Task Force presented the Diversity Task Force Report & Recommendations to the State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors in June 2014.
Diversity & Inclusion Oversight Committee
As recommended by the Diversity Task Force, the State Bar formed the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee. The committee serves as the State Bar’s diversity “think tank” to carry out diversity and inclusion commitment and goals. The committee reports directly to the State Bar Board of Governors Executive Committee who maintains diversity and inclusion as a continuous item on their agenda. On July 1, 2016, the committee was made a Standing Committee of the State Bar.
The Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee supports and encourages a diverse State bar and a legal profession that respects and values its members' differences. The committee is not the sole entity charged with actually effectuating or incorporating diversity efforts into the Bar’s work, but rather it will assist, coordinate and facilitate these efforts within all of the entities of the Bar. The committee is responsible for institutionalizing and implementing the Bar’s ultimate action plan with regard to diversity and inclusion.
Diversity & Inclusion News