The Task Force was appointed by Past ISBA President Joe Bisceglia in 2007 to develop a Diversity Pipeline initiative and to pursue other activities to promote greater diversity in the Illinois legal community statewide and within the ISBA, following on work initiated by Past ISBA President Irene Bahr. When it became apparent that the Task Force could not complete its ambitious agenda in one year, the Task Force was reappointed in 2008 by ISBA President Jack Carey. The work of the Task Force is continuing with the support of current ISBA President John O’Brien and his appointment of the first Diversity Leadership Council in 2009-2010.
The Task Force on Diversity really resulted from a collective belief by ISBA leadership that: 1) more action had to be taken to increase diversity within the Illinois legal community; and, 2) the ISBA could serve as a much needed catalyst in promoting that positive change. Once appointed, the Task Force set out to make a difference in three key areas: encouraging more diverse students to law as a career thereby improving the law school pipeline; evaluating how we as lawyers felt about our law practices and our role in the bar and communities where we live and work; and, developing an improved understanding of the ISBA including a limited diversity baseline. This emphasis resulted in the following accomplishments.
1. Completion of the first-ever statewide diversity survey.
2. Completion of the first-ever diversity survey within the ISBA including the Board of Governors, Assembly, committees and section councils and professional staff.
3. Launch of the first diversity Web site.
4. Continuation of the Diversity Matters newsletter.
5. Development of the Diversity Leadership Award recognizing significant contributions by individuals or organizations in advancing diversity.
6. Recommendation to establish a Diversity Leadership Program to increase diversity with the ISBA.
7. Creation of the Diversity Pipeline Project including the 100 Future Leaders Pipeline Project.
8. Reorganization of the diversity-related committees within the ISBA as well as the establishment of the Diversity Leadership Council to coordinate committee work and outreach efforts.
The efforts are continuing to ensure that the ISBA is as welcoming an environment as possible to all Illinois attorneys. We invite you to learn more about diversity initiatives within the ISBA by visiting our new diversity Web site at <http://www.isba.org/diversity>.
Please mark your calendars and plan to attend the special Lincoln Legacy diversity program to be held in conjunction with the 2009 MidYear Meeting on December 10, 2009 as well as the special luncheon to celebrate women attorneys scheduled for March 9, 2010 in Chicago. More information will be forthcoming about these events shortly. ■