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Connecticut's Inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Summit: The Collaborative Blueprint

Monday, October 31, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Connecticut Bar Association
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On Wednesday, October 26, members of the Connecticut Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion Summit Committee gathered leaders in the legal profession at Quinnipiac University School of Law in North Haven to empower them to take action toward making Connecticut a more diverse and inclusive bar.


CBA President Monte Frank states, “Not only does the legal community lag behind other professions in diversity, but our state trails some of our neighbors as well. This must change. The legal community should have the opposite role and lead in promoting diversity.”


Through workshops and panel discussions attendees learned why diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but is good business; how implicit bias impacts the workplace; what strategies to use to implement diversity and inclusion within their organizations; and how to track and measure progress using best practice benchmarks.


Christine Jean-Louis, CBA Diversity and Inclusion Summit Committee chair hoped that most importantly, “During this Summit you were able to remove yourself from your own individualistic ideas/thoughts/concerns to really understand the broader issue our profession faces. Diversity and inclusion is more than just you as an individual.”

Justice McDonald, Chief Justice Rogers,
and Justice Robinson

Justice McDonald, CBA President Monte Frank, Chief Justice Rogers, CBA President-elect Karen DeMeola, Attorney General Jepsen, Allen Gary Palmer, Justice Robinson, and Diversity & Inclusion Summit
Committee Chair Christine Jean-Louis 

VallotKarp, a boutique management consulting firm that focuses on creating inclusive environments where people can work together more effectively, led the Summit workshops. The first workshop, Increasing Awareness, taught participants the elements of successful organizational change and how to assess the current landscape of diversity and inclusion within their firm or organization, while exploring the difference between conscious and unconscious bias and receiving the tools to help interpret it.


Supreme Court Justices; Justice Andrew J. McDonald, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers, and Justice Richard A. Robinson; came together in a panel discussion to share the distinction between diversity and inclusion, the role it plays in Connecticut’s legal profession, and why it is important to the profession’s continued growth. The discussion was moderated by Diversity and Inclusion Summit Committee member, Allen Gary Palmer.

“We constantly refer back to the way the practice of law used to be. But we must wake up to the fact that change happens whether we are ready for it or not,” says Jean-Louis.


The Take Action Workshop taught attendees how to make the business case for diversity and inclusion and how to develop and utilize a strategic action plan. Tools were provided to help attendees manage resistance to diversity and inclusion as well as discuss best practice benchmarks used to track and measure their progress.


Former Justice Lubbie Harper with Garlinck Dumont


Diversity & Inclusion Summit Committee Co-chair Cecil Thomas, Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity Executive Director Carolyn Hebsgaard, CBA President-elect Karen DeMeola, and Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Gabrielle Lyse Brown


VallotKarp expressed, “Don’t go it alone—leverage the knowledge/resources of the CBA and its members as you move forward with your diversity and inclusion change efforts.”

President Frank informed attendees, “The association adopted a formal diversity policy and a detailed plan, which is being worked into our sections and committees. The CBA will also work on a ‘pipeline program’ to encourage talented and diverse high school students to consider a legal career.”


The Summit concluded with a collaborative pledge and plan, introducing attendees to the planning of outlining goals that organizations can work on towards taking action in efforts to promote and increase diversity and inclusion in Connecticut’s legal market and to hold them accountable in their efforts.


In quoting Martin Luther King Jr., Jean-Louis declared, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”





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