To serve society best, the legal profession has to move toward reflecting the growing ethnic and racial mix of the general population, the head of the nation’s largest lawyers group told several hundred members of Boston’s legal community Tuesday.

“The legal profession must reflect the society it serves, and if it does, it’s the connecting link between the rule of law and that society,” said William G. Paul, president of the American Bar Association. “If it doesn’t, the link is weakened and may even fail.”

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