Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives

The CMBA is committed to promote diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, justice system and in the community. To assist in its mission, the CMBA has created an officer position, the Vice-President of Diversity & Inclusion, who also serves as chair of the CMBA's Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

Diversity & Inclusion 2.0:  Walking the Talk

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee is leading a CMBA effort to engage the greater Cleveland legal community in an effort to join together to take a comprehensive look at where we stand today as a profession and as a community. Through a comprehensive survey initiative, the CMBA has collected significant demographic information as well as details regarding effective diversity and inclusion programs that are producing results in Greater Cleveland. Phase I of the survey initiative began in October 2015 with the launch of an organizational survey to more than 300 law firms, corporate legal departments, courts and public law offices in Northeast Ohio.
Click here to view the list of organizations who responded to the Phase I survey.

Phase II occurred in February 2016, and involved  the distribution of individual surveys to nearly 8,500 lawyers and legal professionals in the same geographic area. All survey data will be compiled by CMBA staff and reported only in an aggregate form. A report on the survey results showing where we stand and providing guidance as to where we want to move in the future was released in conjunction with the Diversity & Inclusion Conference on May 20, 2016. The Conference featured nationally-recognized author and keynote speaker, Verna Myers, as well as information about successful initiatives undertaken by other bar associations and other legal communities. Every voice matters in this important project.  Click Here to view the full Diversity Report.

The CMBA also announced the 2016 Inclusion Innovation Awards recipients, who were honored for their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and throughout Cleveland. This year, the Committee chose to focus on three excellent examples of work being done by those in the government sector. Congratulations again to the 2016 Inclusion Innovation Award winners:
  • Meena Morey Chandra, regional director of the Cleveland office of the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights
  • Pernel Jones, Jr., director of community relations for the Pernel Jones and Sons Funeral Home, and vice president of the Cuyahoga County Council
  • Carole S. Rendon, acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio

Commitment to Collective Action

The Diversity Survey results demonstrate that the activity and focus devoted over the past several years to creating a more diverse and inclusive legal community has worked. Some progress has been made, even if the progress has been slow. Now that we have baseline data, how do we move forward? We challenge the greater Cleveland legal community - firms, courts, corporate counsel and the public sector - to work together to create a written five-year collective plan by August 31, 2016 to move from where we stand to where we want to stand. Those who have signed on and made the commitment so far are listed below.

  • Berns, Ockner & Greenberger, LLC
  • Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Cleveland Metroparks
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Cleveland State University
  • Cuyahoga County Agency of Inspector General
  • Cuyahoga County Department of Law
  • Cuyahoga County Probate Court
  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office
  • Forest City Realty Trust, Inc.
  • Giffen & Kaminski, LLC
  • Littler Mendelson, P.C.
  • Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis Co., LPA
  • Norman S. Minor Bar Association
  • Office of the Ohio Attorney General
  • Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
  • Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP
  • Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP
  • Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
  • Thacker Robinson Zinz LPA
  • The Chandra Law Firm LLC
  • Thompson Hine LLP
  • Tucker Ellis LLP
  • U.S. Attorney's Office
  • Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP
  • Zashin & Rich Co., LPA

Diversity Pipeline Programs

The CMBA has a number of pipeline programs aimed at providing opportunity and experience to minority students interested in pursuing careers in the law.  Starting in high school with The 3Rs: Rights, Responsibilities, Realities, Cleveland Mock Trial program and the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Summer Legal Academy (described below), our pipeline programs connect students to mentors, resources and experiences to help them succeed in achieving their education and career goals. The pipeline continues through college for students selected for internships in the Louis Stokes Scholars Program. For law students, our pipeline programs include the Minority Clerkship Program and Diversity Career Fairs.    

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Summer Legal Academy (For Rising High School Seniors)

This summer program is designed to introduce promising minority students to the legal profession through hands-on experience. Through a competitive application process, area high school seniors from Cuyahoga County are selected to participate in a two-week, full day intensive and interactive law institute at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in June. The faculty for the law institute includes volunteer judges and lawyers who introduce participants to legal issues and career opportunities.  Students will learn how to prepare for trial and participate in mock trials under the supervision of lawyers and judges. Students will have the opportunity to earn a one month internship and a stipend and the top students in the program will have the opportunity to earn modest scholarships. There is no fee for participation in this program, which is co-sponsored the CMBA, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association. 

Louis Stokes Scholars Program (For College Students)

“Changing Lives, One Student at a Time”
The Louis Stokes Scholars Program is a pipeline diversity program through which college students engage in paid summer legal internships of eight-week duration at Cleveland law firms, courts and legal nonprofits. Participating students, known as Louis Stokes Scholars, must be graduates of high schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or Shaw High School in East Cleveland and enrolled in college or scheduled to begin college in the fall following the summer program. At each internship site, students are matched with an attorney-mentor. Mentors help introduce Scholars to the legal profession, provide career counseling, and continue to serve as a resource during their college years. In addition to the work done by interns at their sites, group enrichment experiences are also provided to increase exposure to careers in the law. Examples of group experiences include field trips to the courts to meet judges and other court personnel and to observe courtroom proceedings, lunch and learn programs with speakers from all types of legal practices, visits to law schools to learn about admissions and financial aid, writing and public speaking seminars, social and networking opportunities.  

The internships require 20 hours per week, start in early June and run for eight weeks through July.

Minority Clerkship Program (For First Year Law Students)

This program provides qualified law students the opportunity to work as full time law clerks or summer associates in a law firm, legal department or government agency at the end of their first year of law school. The experience better prepares the students to compete for permanent legal positions in the future, while providing employers with the opportunity to meet and work with well-qualified minority law students. In addition to their clerkships, students participate in summer lunch and learn sessions to socialize and meet leaders of the legal community. The timeline for the program begins each year in the fall, with informational sessions at Cleveland's law schools. Applications are made available on the CMBA website starting in early November and are due by mid-January. Interviews are conducted in early February and offers extended by early March. Clerkships begin in May and end in early August.

Learn More 

Diversity & Inclusion Career Fair

The CMBA, in partnership with the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, Special Counsel, and the Midwest Region of the National Black Law Student Association, has coordinated Diversity & Inclusion Career Fairs,  offering eligible job seekers from the Midwest region an introduction and opportunity to interact with Cleveland area legal employers.The CMBA and its partners are committed to promoting and encouraging a diverse and inclusive legal community.  Thanks to the participation of over 20 employers and 300 job seekers, the Career Fairs have been dynamic events resulting in a number of successful placements.