Read the May 2011 diversity coverstory, “How Leading Companies Are Prioritizing Diversity Early in the Pipeline.”

Robin Rone is director of the American Bar Association (ABA) Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, which serves as a resource to the legal community on pipeline projects, to foster collaboration between different organizations and to develop best practices and resources on pipeline issues.

InsideCounsel: What’s the focus of the ABA Pipeline Council?

Rone: The ABA recognized about 10 years ago that you can’t really talk about meaningful changes in diversity within the profession unless you’re talking about bringing more students of color into law school. Lawyers who want to learn more about pipeline diversity and efforts can call us. We also have a searchable online database of pipeline programs nationwide–it’s at 600 listings and growing, and they represent everything from one-day programs to six-week summer institutes, from intensive prelaw training to moot court competitions. That reflects the work the Council does to foster collaboration, because pipeline programs need synergy and support from local educational institutions as well as local communities. We work to serve as a conduit to develop those relationships.

Some of these programs have been around for 25 years. Are you starting to see the effects?

Yes, we’re absolutely seeing success. I think part of the next wave of this increasing interest is going to be getting better numbers and developing better ways of tracking and measuring what’s working. The nature of the pipeline issue is that it’s a long-term investment, and you can see a shift in the profession understanding that this is a long-term commitment. But there are also programs where you can definitely say, this works.