On the 15th March 2021, the California State Bar published its second biennial report on the progress of its work programmes designed to further diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in California’s legal profession over the last two years.
The report sits against the backdrop of the Bar’s ongoing work on diversity. The Bar’s statutory mission specifies that public protection includes supporting greater access to, and inclusion in, the legal profession, whilst the state’s fee bill (2018) directed the State Bar to implement a plan to increase diversity in the legal profession and provide biennial reports to the Legislature on this topic. In 2019, the State Bar adopted nine concrete DEI objectives as part of its Five-Year Strategic Plan. The report has been written to review the progress of the bar against these objectives.
Key accomplishments raised in the report are:
- The publication of the first Annual Report Card on the Diversity of California’s Legal Profession, including both key diversity data points;
- Completing a groundbreaking study on racial disparities in the attorney discipline system and implementing measures to address these findings;
- Launching the California Bar Exam Strategies and Stories Program, a positive mindset intervention that has since proven to increase California Bar Exam scores for test takers of color; and
- Convening sector-specific diversity summits to respond to report card results and identify action steps in response to the State Bar’s calls to action.
Donna Hershkowitz, Interim Executive Director has said “As the largest legal regulatory agency in the country and one uniquely charged with addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of its mission, the State Bar takes seriously its role and opportunity to impact the profession in our state as well as the national conversation on inclusion and justice for all. Over the last two years, the State Bar has undertaken a wide array of DEI initiatives impacting prospective and current licensees, its many partners and stakeholders, and its internal culture. We are engaged in meaningful and substantive DEI work with an eye towards making real