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Inclusion & Diversity


The CMBA is committed to promote inclusion and diversity 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 Inclusion & Diversity, who also serves as chair of the CMBA's Inclusion & Diversity Committee.

Cleveland Legal Inclusion 2020

Inclusion & Diversity Benchmarking Survey & Racial Equity Tool Kit

In late 2015, the CMBA launched a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive survey that could be used to benchmark the then-current state of diversification across the legal profession in greater Cleveland. This year, we’re taking a deeper dive into the make-up of our local bar legal community on issues related to inclusion and diversity in the legal practice in greater Cleveland with the 2020 Inclusion & Diversity Benchmarking Survey.

The 2016 survey results demonstrate that diversification in the legal practice in the greater Cleveland legal community has been slow, but also that progress has been made and more can be achieved. A set of meetings was held among law firms, corporate law offices, courts, and other governmental entities, who agreed that a "Commitment to Collective Action" was the best approach to work towards improving diversity and inclusion in the legal practice. From the Commitment to Collective Action, Cleveland Legal Inclusion 2020 was formed to take a collective and stronger approach to diversify leadership, and create a more inclusive environment in the greater Cleveland workforce, with the legal community serving as a leader and a role model for collective action.

Much has happened in our community in the intervening five years, so it is time to look again at what the demographic information tells us about where our legal community stands today. But it’s not just a numbers game – real change means structural support for advancement and retention, not just getting more diverse people in the door. The CMBA sent requests to law firms, courts, corporate offices, and other legal employers with requests to complete Section 1 of the updated Survey no later than November 20, 2020; and Section II no later than December 18, 2020. For inquiries related to the survey for your firm, court, or other legal employer, please contact Jessica Paine at the CMBA.

Knowing where we stand is only the first step on our path to a more equitable and inclusive legal profession, which is why the CMBA has simultaneously rolled out an Inclusion & Diversity Toolkit. This online toolkit, available only to CMBA members and those who have completed the 2020 survey, offers a range of practical resources and template policies to creating a more equitable and inclusive professional environment. From leave policies to strategic plans, recruitment to compensation, we’ve got you covered.

Racial Equity and the Law (REAL)

The CMBA has spearheaded REAL Workgroups and hosted a series of public REAL Talks to drive change in the legal community and beyond. For more about REAL, visit

Explore Our Diversity Pipeline Programs

Opportunities abound for high school, college and law students, volunteer lawyers, and law firms and law offices. The CMBA's award-winning pipeline programs provide law-related education, mentoring and unique real life experiences to minority students interested in pursuing careers in the law. Starting in high school with The 3Rs: Rights, Responsibilities, Realities and the Cleveland Mock Trial program, our pipeline programs are designed to connect students to the Cleveland legal community. 

The pipeline also includes incredible summertime opportunities for students, including a legal academy experience, paid internships, and clerkships available in the following programs: