Our ongoing Hot Topic page rounds up the latest stories about efforts to improve diversity in the legal profession, plus the specific challenges and milestones of that journey.
The Bar Association of San Francisco launched its diversity scholarship program in 1998 with an offer of $1,000 to minorities at Bay Area law schools. In 2004, that went up to $10,000, said program director Raquel Cabading. Open to first-, second- and third-year students, the aid is available for three years.
But the California Bar Foundation is casting a wider net.
Paul, Hastings’ Mack and Howard, Rice’s chief of diversity, Dipanwita Deb Amar, said their firms signed on to the three-year commitment with the foundation because of its statewide reach.
“As a result, the scope of this program is a lot broader than a lot of private programs,” Amar said.
Diversity specialists said any program that will help students make it through law school and land a job at a firm is a positive step, but only one of many to transform the profession from the prevalent monochrome.
Morrison & Foerster partner Arturo Gonzalez, chairman of that firm’s diversity committee, said that how minorities, women or LGBTs are treated and assigned work makes a difference.
“What is really important is when these students finally arrive that they be given good quality work,” Gonzalez said.
MoFo is contemplating the launch of a program that is similar to the California Bar Foundation’s. “It would likely target entering law students,” he said. “We’re going to make a decision in time for the next academic year.”