Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
Washington Supreme Court to Encourage Diversity in State’s Legal Profession During Event October 23rdOctober 20, 2008
Washington Supreme Court Justice Barbara Madsen, Chair of the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and Justice Charles W. Johnson, Chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission will call upon law firms to make measurable progress to increase diversity in our state’s legal profession at an event at the Supreme Court next week.
The Justices are co-sponsoring a kick-off reception for the Washington Initiative for Diversity Governing Council (IDGC) a new, statewide effort to ensure that the Washington justice system and its attorney population reflect the diversity of Washington’s population.
The reception for will be held in Olympia at the Temple of Justice, Chief Justice’s Reception Room, on October 23, 2008, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
"In the coming year, we hope to increase the diversity throughout our state’s legal system,” said Justice Barbara Madsen. “This initiative is a further commitment to make the courts open and responsive to all citizens of our state.”
Statistics are compelling on the need. In the 2005-2006 academic year nearly 20% of all law students in Washington law schools were of diverse ethnic backgrounds or had disabilities, and almost 53% of law students were women. Yet the advances achieved by the law schools are not reflected within private law firms and other legal employers. Recent state bar membership data indicates that only 10.5% of Washington attorneys are people of color, less than 1% are disabled and only 35.5% are women.
"Having individuals who reflect our population’s diversity working in the legal profession helps to reinforce the important message that ours is a system open to all,” said Madsen. “The appearance of justice is a very important component to ensuring public trust and confidence in our justice system.”
The IDGC is a consortium of representatives from Washington’s minority, specialty, state and county bar associations; attorney interest groups; and public and private legal employers.
At the event, Washington’s public and private law firms, law schools, and other Washington employers of attorneys are invited to become Signatories to the Initiative and to join in a consortium with bar organizations who endorse these efforts to increase diversity in Washington’s legal profession.
Signatories agree to a standard set of commitments and develop an individualized diversity plan designed to result in measurable evidence of increased diversity in hiring, retention, promotion, and in elevation of diverse attorneys to leadership positions.
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