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Diversity in the Profession Committee

Purpose

To examine the historical and current status of minorities in the legal profession, and to make recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding how the bar can take action to enhance employment and economic opportunities for minorities in the profession and to increase involvement by minorities in the bar.

Chair
Lisa J. Soto
Brim, Arnett, Robinett, Conners & McCormick, P.C.
2525 Wallingwood Drive, Building 14
Austin, Texas 78746
(512) 328-0048
lisa.soto.law@gmail.com

Vice-Chair
Keshia L. Rodriguez
Sedgwick, LLP
1200 Smith Street, Suite 1600
Houston, Texas 77002
(832) 426-7000
Keshia.Rodriguez@sedgwicklaw.com

History : Who We are

In 1989, the Diversity in the Profession Committee, formerly known as the Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession Committee, was created by then State Bar President Darrell Jordan of Dallas. Its purpose was to enhance opportunities for minorities in the legal profession and to increase minority involvement in the bar. Just one year after its inception, the State Bar institutionalized the committee as a standing committee, and its members successfully worked with the State Bar Board of Directors to initiate an ethnicity survey of bar membership, create a permanent staff position dedicated exclusively to minority affairs, and approve the support for diversity in State Bar grievance committees.

Building from such a strong foundation of unique ideas and individuals, the Committee was able to continue to turn its goals into reality through projects like 1993's Statement of Goals for the Hiring and Retention of Minority Lawyers, and 1997's Symposium for Excellence in the Profession: Focus on Diversity. Since 1993, however, the flagship project of the Committee has been the Texas Minority Counsel Program.

The TMCP brings minority and women attorneys together with representatives of corporate and governmental legal departments to discuss outside counsel opportunities and earn valuable CLE credit. Since 1995, the TMCP has sustained yearly averages of more than 250 attendees, over 37 participating corporations, and greater than 280 informational interviews. The program is considered to be the largest networking event for minority lawyers in Texas.

The Committee also spearheads the annual Texas Minority Attorney Program, a newly created networking event geared towards minority and women solo and small firm practitioners.

In 2002 the Committee adopted its current name, the Diversity in the Profession Committee, to reflect the changing demographics of the state of Texas. Not lost, though, was the Committee's continual focus on promoting and pursuing new prospects and opportunities for all minority attorneys.

Continuing Goals

Racial Diversity in the Judiciary

To continue to explore ways to increase the number of minority judges at all levels of the judicial system. A subcommittee will be charged with the task of developing an informational seminar about becoming a Judge.

Maintaining Diversity in Texas Law Schools

To seek an increase in the number of minority law students in Texas law schools. The Diversity in the Profession Committee will examine ways to make LSAT prep courses available to economically disadvantaged college students.

Minority Representation on the State Bar Board of Directors

To develop a program to identify and encourage minority attorneys to serve on the State Bar Board. The ideas developed by the Committee will be implemented in cooperation with local minority bars.

Law Firm Diversity

The Diversity in the Profession Committee always remains committed to encouraging and facilitating the recruitment and retention of minority lawyers in major Texas law firms. In addition, the committee will continue to assist bar associations for which it has helped launch a Statement of Goals initiative assessing the hiring and retention of minorities by signatories to the statement.

Implemented and Proposed Future Projects

Texas Minority Counsel Program - Annual Conference
The Texas Minority Counsel Program's mission is to expand and increase the opportunities for minority and women attorneys to provide legal services for corporate and government clients. Through the TMCP Annual Conference, the program seeks to encourage corporations and government agencies to retain minority and women lawyers,who work in either minority and woman-owned firms or majority-owned law firms.

Texas Spectrum Newsletter
Published bi-annually, the Texas Spectrum is the official newsletter of the State Bar Office of Minority Affairs. Articles included in the publication deal with issues that affect minorities and women in the legal profession. The publication's mailing list includes, but is not limited to: all minority attorneys, leaders of minority and women bar associations, State Bar leaders, law schools, and the Supreme Court justices.

Texas Minority Attorney Program - Annual Conference
The Texas Minority Attorney Program is an event geared towards minority solo and small firm practitioners. Issues addressed at the annual conference include obtaining court appointments, improving office management, and creating and implementing client development strategies.

Bar Exam Study Support Scholarship
The Bar Exam Study Support Scholarship is offered to deserving diverse Texas law school students. By offering this scholarship the DIP committee hopes to assist members of minority populations attending law school to enter the legal profession and further diversify the State Bar.

Periodicals and Reports

Texas Spectrum Newsletter
The official newsletter of the State Bar of Texas Office of Minority Affairs,produced in conjunction with the Diversity in the Profession Committee.

Annual Report on the Status of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in the State Bar of Texas (PDF)
Produced by the State Bar of Texas Research and Analysis Department

Contact Us

Committees
Committees
State Bar of Texas
P.O. Box 12487                     
Austin, TX 78711-2487  
Ph: (512) 427-1463, ext. 1516 or (800) 204-2222, ext. 1516
Fax: (512) 427-4276  
committees@texasbar.com

Office of Minority Affairs
Director: Caren des Vignes
1414 Colorado St.
Austin, TX 78701-1627
Ph: (512) 427-1463, ext. 1538 or
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1538
Fax: (512) 427-4439
cdesvignes@texasbar.com

Communications
1414 Colorado St.
Austin, TX 78701-1627
Ph: (512) 427-1463 or
(800) 204-2222
Fax: (512) 427-4104

Office of Research and Analysis
1414 Colorado St.
Austin, TX 78701-1627
Ph: (512) 427-1463, ext. 1724 or
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1724
Fax: (512) 427-4100