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May 12, 2011

Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession

[Page: H3166]  GPO's PDF 

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Davis) for 5 minutes.

Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession.

Lawyers serve an important role in our society, and yet the legal profession, like many others, is in need of serious improvement in the diversity of its membership. There are a number of individuals and organizations who are working to change that fact, and, thanks to their efforts, there has been progress. Yet the legal profession, which above all should stand for fairness and equality, is still a long way

[Page: H3167]  GPO's PDF
from being open and welcoming to all irrespective of individual characteristics and background.

The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, a new group with a promising approach to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, was established in Chicago, Illinois, in September 2009.

The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession is addressing the contrast between the increasingly diverse society in which we live and what certainly appears to be an entrenched lack of diversity and inclusion. The Institute is working to improve diversity and promote inclusion through comprehensive outreach and innovative programs.

For example, the Institute asks hard questions and finds the answers to them. Working with legal, judicial, professional, educational, and governmental institutions, the Institute provides programs and tools to promote equity in the legal field. IILP uses a new and, in many ways, unique approach. Its comprehensive programs include lawyers, judges, and law students to address all facets, all practice settings, and all types of diversity within the legal profession. Beyond working to overcome the barriers facing diverse lawyers, it looks at the pipeline for new legal talent. This aspect is key. By helping diverse students become law students, enter the legal profession, and eventually become successful lawyers and judges, the profession will become more diverse and inclusive.

A few examples of the work of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession include a pledge to the profession where lawyers across the country are being asked to dedicate a minimum of 1 day of service to work with young people to educate them about the legal profession and encourage them to join it; Professionalism in Practice, a program where law students and judges learn from each other about the profession and, in doing so, about diversity and inclusion; the ``Business Case for Diversity: Reality or Wishful Thinking?'' a research project that provides the first hard data examining the impact of the business case for diversity and the state of diversity; and, ``The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession,'' which is an annual report and series of symposia designed to educate the bar about its current state, cutting-edge issues surrounding diversity and inclusion and the most promising programs, efforts, and initiatives aimed at making entry into and success within the legal profession more accessible to all.

The mission and work of the IILP is an important contribution to social justice in the United States. I consider it an honor to recognize the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession and invite all Members to join me in recognizing them for the importance of their mission and the great work they are undertaking.

(House of Representatives - May 11, 2011)

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