NCWBA Develops Diversity Tools

Diane Rynerson
National Conference of Women's Bar Associations

The National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) has developed two toolkits to make it easier for your bar to work to advance equality in the legal profession.

GOOD Guys (Guys Overcoming Obstacles to Diversity)

All too often when bar associations host programs about the value of increasing diversity in the legal profession, only “the usual suspects” attend: primarily women and lawyers of color. Majority males, perhaps remembering poorly-managed mandatory HR trainings of the past, may feel that they would be singled out or made to feel unwelcome. Or perhaps they think that the topics addressed don’t have any personal relevance to them. Frustration with this state of affairs led the NCWBA to develop a program called “GOOD Guys,” which stands for “Guys Overcoming Obstacles to Diversity.” The underlying premise is that there are men who work every day towards equality in the legal profession. There are also men who want to do the right thing but aren’t sure what practical steps need to be taken. It may be more effective for majority men to be the messengers about the value of diversity in the legal profession rather than hearing the same information from the perceived beneficiaries of changes in the status quo.

Although a GOOD Guys program can be adapted to the needs of any individual group, the basics follow the pattern established at the first GOOD Guys program, held at the 2016 ABA Midyear Meeting in San Diego, and include information about the business case for diversity, practical information about disrupting bias, and a moderated panel comprised primarily of men who have implemented steps to increase diversity in their own organizations. All men attending are recognized—sometimes with a ribbon for their nametag, sometimes just with a round of applause.

Since the initial program, GOOD Guys events have been held around the United States. To put on your own program, use the resources at www.goodguysinlaw.org. For assistance and to help the NCWBA keep track of use of the program, please contact goodguys@ncwba.org.

Diversity Rules

ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) was adopted in 2016 to make it professional misconduct for lawyers to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. Although many states have implemented a similar rule either before or since the adoption of ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), for those which have not, the process can be challenging. The NCWBA has created a toolkit to assist states in exploring adoption of an anti-discrimination rule by introducing ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), providing quick access to key information, summarizing arguments for and against the rule, and providing a checklist and sample letter/proposal to get the process started. These resources are available at https://ncwba.org/programs/diversityrules/. For more information or assistance, contact diversityrules@ncwba.org