The CMBA is committed to diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, justice system and in the community. To assist in its mission to promote diversity and inclusion, the CMBA created a new officer position, beginning in 2013-14, the Vice-President of Diversity & Inclusion. Sonali B. Wilson was elected to serve as the first in this office. As VP, she serves as chair of the CMBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
The Committee’s goals are:
(1) Within the CMBA: To ensure that each Section and Committee of the bar has a diversity and inclusion component; and continue excellent pipeline programming;
(2) In the wider legal community: To increase diverse membership in the CMBA; to gather baseline data about the diversity of the bar in the Greater Cleveland area (on all diversity identifiers, where working, retention rates in the workplace; levels of leadership and promotion rates, etc.); and to identify issues involving diversity and inclusion in the local legal profession and develop meaningful and workable strategies to address such issues.
(3) To work in partnerships: to help reach its goals, the CMBA should work collaboratively with Sections and Committees within the CMBA; with law firms, courts and law schools, and more widely with corporations, government, academic institutions and diversity organizations.
A number of subcommittees have been established under the Diversity & Inclusion Committee to carry out the work and help meet the Committee’s goals. The subcommittees include:
● Diversity & Inclusion Conference - to plan and implement a one day CLE seminar focused on best practices and geared towards law firm, business and government leaders.
● Recruitment – to plan and implement an annual Career Fair for diverse attorneys.
● Diversity & Inclusion Strategies– to plan and implement programs focused on best practices in law firms and corporations, including the “Dialogues on Diversity” speaker series, a quarterly program.
● Work Life Balance - to study and address issues surrounding work-life balance issues which can present hurdles and challenges for diverse attorneys, including women.
● Data/Membership – to collect data to gauge where we are, set goals, and evaluate how to measure success.
● Corporate/In-house – to concentrate on best practices and trends in the workplace, and work with the Corporate and Government Sections to identify issues and methods to address them.
● Pipeline Programs – to assist in the planning and implementation of the Minority Clerkship Program for law students; to assist in the administration of other CMBA pipeline programs aimed at increasing diversity in the legal profession.
The CMBA's diversity and inclusion initiatives are acknowledged as national model programs and were awarded the first ever Raymond and Sadie T. M Alexander Award for Excellence in Pipeline Diversity by the American Bar Association's Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity in 2009. The award recognizes efforts to create and implement pipeline initiatives in a collaborative approach involving more than one segment in the continuum from K-12 to high school to college to law school to practice. The CMBA also received the American Bar Association's Partnership Award for efforts to increase the participation and advancement of lawyers of color in the organized bar and to attract students of color to the legal professions.