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  • InsideTrack
  • November 01, 2017

    Cultural Competence Improves Client Communication

    Nov. 1, 2017 – Cultural competence is all the aspects that make a person who they are – it’s more than race or ethnicity.

    “It’s very broad,” says Judge Carl Ashley of Milwaukee County Circuit Court, and panelist on the topic of cultural competency at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Conference this past summer.

    “It’s what that person’s made of, what they’re about.” It includes their experience, and it is different for every person.

    It is an important concept to understand when communicating with your clients as a lawyer.

    Assumptions – about why a person wears their hair the way they do, about how they are dressed, and more – create barriers to communication.

    “If we make assumptions as lawyers, it can ruin that relationship with a client,” says Starlyn Tourtillott, attorney for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and a panelist. “It can fracture the trust that’s needed to do a good job for our clients.”

    Why is this important?

    “You take the value of a person by acknowledging who they are,” Ashley said.

    Don’t hesitate to ask questions – but actively listen to the answers, Tourtillott said.

    Listen and find out what that person’s about. “You’ll better understand the needs of your clients,” Ashley said.

    “It’s better for the whole system if you take time to get to know your clients,” Ashley said.

    Find out more in “Everyone Has Implicit Bias: If We Acknowledge It, We Can Address It,” in the Oct. 18, 2017, issue of InsideTrack.

    You’re Invited: CLE Program Highlights Pathways toward Diversity and Inclusion

    The 2017 Diversity Counsel CLE program, Today’s Diversity and Inclusion Programs: Successes, Ethical Issues, and Challenges, is designed to help raise cultural competence and find pathways to improving diversity and inclusion.

    Hosted by the State Bar of Wisconsin Diversity & Inclusion Oversight Committee, the program is 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., Monday, Dec.11, 2017. It will be held at the Italian Conference Center, Inc., 631 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee.


    • State Bar member: $35
    • Ultimate Pass Subscriber: $25
    • Nonmember: $50
    • Student: $15

    See the schedule and list of presenters. Register online on WisBar’s Marketplace.

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