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The legal industry is long past the discussions of “if” it should have a more diverse community, but many law firms are still discussing “how” to create an inclusive and welcoming environment. Recognizing that diverse attorneys in many law firms face hurdles and challenges, here are a few tips on how firms can increase diversity within their organizations and enhance the chances of creating a more inclusive environment where talented individuals can succeed.

Show Support From the Top Down

It is important that the upper management of law firms be committed to diversity and inclusion. And diversity and inclusion should not be considered “initiatives” or “programs.” They have to be incorporated into every aspect of firm life. They have to be ingrained in the fabric of the firm. It’s all about culture, not programs and initiatives. Upper management within law firms drives firm culture. If upper management does not serve as a role model on this journey, it will be impossible for other partners, lawyers and staff to be invested in the diversity and inclusion. Unconscious bias training, starting at the upper management of firms, and then cascaded down and throughout the firm, will go a long way in setting a culture of diversity and inclusion. Regular communications to the partners and firm personnel from the chair or managing partner on the importance of diversity and inclusion can also have a significant impact on the firm’s culture. Such communications should include information about successes of diverse lawyers in the firm and diversity-related events and activities in which the firm and clients have been involved.

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