MBA Commitment to DiversityThe MBA Equality and Diversity Committee works to promote equality in the profession and justice system and identifies ways in which the MBA can promote diversity in the practice of law.
MBA Statement of Diversity PrinciplesThe MBA invites you to sign on to the Statement of Diversity Principles. The statement was adopted by the MBA Board in April 2009. It presents an opportunity for all legal employers - law firms big and small, governments, businesses, nonprofits and everyone else - to publicly acknowledge their commitment to developing the diversity of the legal community in Oregon. The statement is offered as a vehicle to continue and expand upon our conversation about diversity in the bar - diversity as an encompassing idea, important to all of us.
Sign the Pledge
Click here for a printable form. Please send a copy of your signed statement to the MBA. Click here to sign online.
Who has Signed the Pledge?
Click here to see who has signed the Statement of Diversity Principles
Special thanks to Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and Stoel Rives for their generous donations, which covered the costs of printing and mailing the statement.
LSAT Prep Course Scholarship
The mission of the MBA's Equality and Diversity Committee is "to foster and expand diversity, inclusion and equality in the Multnomah Bar Association and Multnomah County legal community and to create and strengthen a relationship of mutual support between the MBA and its diverse lawyers and bar organizations." In furtherance of this goal, in March 2014, the E&D Committee established an ad hoc LSAT prep course scholarship subcommittee to distribute a grant from the MBA. The subcommittee - which included members of OHBA, OWLs, and OGALLA, among other groups - used the grant money to award MBA scholarships for LSAT prep courses to law school applicants who come from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the Multnomah County legal community, who have financial need, and who plan to go to law school and practice here. The committee received over 50 applications and awarded 12 scholarships applied to classes from PowerScore. On October 30, 2014, scholarship recipients, members of the E&D Committee, and other local lawyers attended a reception at Barran Liebman with Judge Adrienne Nelson to honor the scholars. The ad hoc committee was comprised of Emily Teplin Fox (Markowitz Herbold), Fumi Osowo, Gina Atwood (Nike), Alejandra Torres (Brownstein Rask), Jessica Osborne (Gordon Rees), Damien Munsinger (Barran Liebman), Sheeba Suhaskumar, and Lisa Pex Shevlin.
Inaugural "Tillicum Gathering"
On March 6, 2014 diversity/specialty bar leaders together with the MBA and representatives of the OSB enjoyed an inaugural social event to exchange ideas, learn about the ways in which groups can support each other and work together to promote diversity in the bar and connections with each other. The event was generously and graciously hosted by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Officers and board members of the following groups attended: Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association; OGALLA -The LGBT Bar Association of Oregon; Oregon Hispanic Bar Association; Oregon Minority Lawyers Association; National Bar Association-Oregon Chapter; Oregon Women Lawyers; MBA and MBA YLS; and the Diversity Section and Diversity & Inclusion Office of the OSB.
Participants submitted and voted on entries for an enduring event name using a "crowdsourcing" platform. Bob Steringer, MBA Board member and partner with Harrang Long Gary Rudnick PC, submitted the winning entry of "Tillicum Gathering" and became the proud recipient of a lovely MBA logo umbrella. "Tillicum" is the "Chinook jargon word for 'people' or 'family'" and was inspired by another entry, "The Family Feast" which referred to the different "families" of bar groups coming together in a spirit of mutual friendship and support.
Inspiration of a different sort was shared by representatives of each of the organizations as to how and why their organizations work with each other in support of diversity. Kevin Clonts, OGALLA Co-Chair and partner with Rizzo Mattingly Bosworth PC, spoke movingly of the importance of ethnic, racial, and sexual minority legal professionals as role models for teens and young adults who may struggle with isolation or even be at risk of suicide. Every diverse judge or leader is a powerful reminder of the possibilities open to historically underrepresented groups. He lauded the National Hispanic Bar Association's decision to relocate its 40th annual national convention away from Arizona in response to proposed legislation allowing businesses to deny service to LGBT people as an important showing of solidarity. This same sense of community and common purpose is felt and demonstrated by Oregon's specialty and diversity bar associations.
The leaders of the MBA and other bar organizations look forward to celebrating diversity in the legal community and the importance of connection annually at the "Tillicum Gathering" as we continue working together to promote and strengthen each groups' mission and the legal community's greater commitment to diversity.
Message from Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas A. Balmer
Oregon, like other states, has a mixed record on issues of diversity, equality, and inclusion. At statehood, blacks were expressly excluded from Oregon, and the formal discrimination against Japanese-Americans during World War II and less formal prejudice against Hispanics and other minority communities have been a part of our history. Yet, in each generation, there have been lawyers and other community leaders who have also spoken out in favor of equality, diversity, and reconciliation.
Today, Oregon is more diverse than ever. And Oregon lawyers--through the MBA's Equality and Diversity Committee, minority lawyer associations, and specialty bars--continue to work towards the goals of inclusion and participation. From encouraging minority law students through OLIO to mentorship programs that enhance career development to working towards a more diverse bench, Oregon lawyers have been in the forefront of community efforts to recognize the benefits for society as a whole when we celebrate and make use of the talents of all of us.
I applaud the work of the MBA on these important issues and urge you to support the efforts of the Equality and Diversity Community. The legal community benefits tremendously from a culture that embraces the contributions of all of its diverse members.
Links and Useful Resources
- MBA Equality and Diversity Committee Charge
Making the Case for Diversity article from OWLS AdvanceSheet Winter 2012
- Report of the Oregon Supreme Court Task Force on Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Judicial System
- 1998 Report on Gender Fairness in the Judicial System
- Oregon Supreme Court Implementation Committee: A Commitment to Fairness January 1996 Progress Report
- 2001 OSB, MBA and OWLS Convocation on Equality Manual
- OSB Report on Access to the Courts by People with Disabilities