Discussion with Les Houghton: Co-chair Holden introduced Mr. Houghton. Mr. Houghton provided information regarding his background working at Target where he headed one of their largest divisions. Since he left Target, he now provides consulting services in the area of diversity and recruitment, mentors minority women on business initiatives, writes a newspaper column about diversity issues and is in the process of writing a book. Members discussed with Mr. Houghton how he might facilitate a meeting of the Task Force with representatives from the minority bars to obtain feedback on proposed best practices. His consulting fee is $1500/day or $200/hour, plus travel expenses. At the conclusion of the discussion, following Mr. Houghton's departure, the Committee decided he lacks sufficient background and experience with law firms and legal employers to be an effective facilitator for the Summit. Members agreed it is important to have a facilitator to guide the discussion with members of the task force and minority bars. The facilitator should have law firm experience, be perceived as neutral, not affiliated with the Task Force or Steering Committee, and have the ability to talk about best practices. A few suggestions were made; please contact Nancy with any other ideas of possible facilitators.
Minority Bar Summit: Members discussed in more detail the vision for the Minority Bar Summit. The minority bars should be invited to send as many people as they want. The draft best practices should be distributed sufficiently in advance so that minority bars have an opportunity to talk amongst themselves before meeting at the Summit. The Task Force members will likely receive the draft best practices at the same time as members of the minority bars. The goal is to hold the Summit in mid-February. As soon as a new facilitator is found, a date will be locked in and notice will go out to the entire Task Force. Susan Holden will be in contact with Marlene Garvis about finding a facilitator.
Religion/Disability: Co-chair Mike Tracy was not present to provide a report.
Sexual Orientation: Phil Duran reported the subcommittee has already turned in their draft to Mary Jo. Nancy will forward it to all the Task Force members as an example and to help spur them on to complete their work by the deadline.
Race Subcommittee: Leo Brisbois reported in the absence of Judge George Perez, who chairs this subcommittee. They have had one meeting so far; members were asked to come to the next meeting on December 13 with examples of best practices they have found that they would like to see included in the subcommittee's recommendations. They have found that there is no lack of available information on best practices in this area and their challenge will be to distill the information into manageable, practical recommendations.
Outreach Subcommittee: Chair Marlene Garvis was unable to attend, however, this subcommittee is working on organizing the Minority Bar Summit and Ms. Holden will be in contact with Ms. Garvis about the facilitator.
Present: Co-Chair Sue Holden, Members Leo Brisbois, Phil Duran, Judge Kathy Sanberg, Mike Tracy. Staff: Nancy Mischel and Mary Jo Cole (contract writer)
Co-Chair Holden advised the committee that there had been additions to the Steering Committee which included the chair or one co-chair from each subcommittee. This will allow all subcommittees to remain informed on the progress of work and participate in any decisions on the direction of the project.
The Gender Subcommittee also envisions their work product to include three parts: (1) the matrix - a one page quick guide laminated sheet with one-liners of the best practices; (2) tabbed section of notes or comments pages offering greater detail about implementing the best practices that a reader can flip to for more specific information and discussion about various best practices in the matrix chart, (i.e. a large firm wants to review best practices on compensation of female attorneys); and (3) a bibliography of references and resources useful in these areas. The Gender Subcommittee's next meeting is October 22 at noon at the MSBA.
The Steering Committee discussed the matrix and its suitability for use by the other subcommittees in organizing their work. It was agreed that this would be the format for the other areas as well. It would provide a consistent manner for each area to be organized and it does cover the general categories that each subcommittee has been considering in their research.
Religion/Disability: Mike Tracy reported that their subcommittee has met and they are working on gathering information on best practices in both areas, religion and disability. They will be distilling information from various resources.
Sexual Orientation: Phil Duran reported they have divided their work by type of legal employer, as delineated in the Task Force's charge (also included on the matrix). The subcommittee members are from various types of legal employers so members are asked to bring best practices for their employer type and the subcommittee will begin synthesizing all the information at their next meeting on October 25.
Race Subcommittee: Leo Brisbois reported in the absence of Judge George Perez, who chairs this subcommittee. They have had one meeting so far; members were asked to come to the next meeting with examples of best practices they have found that they would like to see included in the subcommittee's recommendations.
In reviewing the matrix that the Gender Subcommittee proposed, Mr. Brisbois thought the race subcommittee may want to add one category to the matrix, which is "Cultural Competency." There was discussion that such a category may also fit within the "equal access" category of the matrix. It was decided that subcommittees may bring forward to the Steering Committee any additional categories they feel may be necessary for best practices in their area which do not fit within the categories of the matrix as it is currently constituted.
The Steering Committee also discussed the Race Subcommittee's desire to get meaningful feedback from the various minority bar groups. This will require considerable effort and collaboration with bar leadership as well as a coordinated effort of the Outreach Subcommittee. It was the consensus of the Steering Committee that the best way to accomplish this may be to pull together a Minority Bar Summit in January 2008. Discussion occurred concerning a Summit where there could be general discussion of the whole group followed by concurrent breakout sessions hosted by each subcommittee to gain feedback from the attendees about best practices for inclusion in the Task Force recommendations.
The Steering Committee decided that, if bar leadership was amenable to convening a Summit focused on the work of this Task Force and gathering feedback from those participants, the Task Force would move forward by sending a letter to the Minority Bar Summit participants signed by the Co-Chairs and possibly MSBA President Brian Melendez. The letter should include information alerting leaders of the minority/specialty bars to the work of the Task Force and requesting their attendance at a Summit convened for purposes of gaining their input on best practices in the areas being addressed by the Task Force.
It was the consensus of the group that the Summit should also include an invitation for the Summit participants to participate in additional meetings of the subcommittees which would occur in February and allow them greater time to consider potential suggestions and to gain the opportunity for broader input by their own members into this process. Concluding such meetings by the end of February would still allow the Task Force work to remain on the timeline needed to conclude their work in time for Policy Committee approval and presentation at the MSBA Convention.
The Outreach Subcommittee will have a significant role in organizing the Summit and will need to work closely with members of the subcommittees to ensure follow up with those invited to encourage attendance.
Outreach Subcommittee: Chair Marlene Garvis was unable to attend. Co-chair Holden reported that she had conferred at length with Ms. Garvis who is enthusiastic about leading this subcommittee and is looking for the Steering Committee's input on the role of the Outreach Subcommittee. After discussion it was the consensus of the Steering Committee that the role of the Outreach subcommittee will essentially be in three areas:
1. Follow up on gaining input from MSBA sections and committees consistent with the Task Force's charge.
2. Follow up and organize the Minority Bar Summit or whatever meeting of minority bar leaders will occur for a January 08 event.
3. Educate the legal profession about the best practices and other resources generated by this Task Force, including primarily planning for whatever CLE or diversity presentation that will occur at the convention, preferably coordinating with WILP and the Diversity Committee on joint programming that will introduce the end result of this Task Force to the membership at the MSBA Convention. Kathe Marron, a member of the Steering Committee, has already put some thought into convention programming from the gender perspective and made some proposals to WILP at their last meeting. Ms. Marron is also serving on the Outreach Subcommittee.
Deadlines for completion of work:
December 30: Drafts of best practices from each subcommittee to form
the basis of discussion for the Minority Bar Summit or similar meeting
in January 2008.
Mary Jo will begin drafting the introduction to the toolkit now. Subcommittees are encouraged to try and finish their work prior to the deadlines above, in particular having a fairly comprehensive list of best practices for discussion at the Summit in January 08. Mary Jo will be available to assist subcommittees with drafting or editing.
Steering Committee members will be provided with contact information for Mary Jo; most likely she will have an MSBA email and phone number/voicemail.
Next Meeting: The Steering Committee's next meeting is set for Wednesday, December 12 at 3:30 p.m. at the MSBA office.
Present: Co-Chair Sue Holden, Members: Phil Duran, Tamika Nordstrom, Judge Kathy Sanberg, Mike Tracy. Staff: Nancy Mischel
Task Force Membership: MSBA President Brian Melendez has contacted some judges to join the Task Force and Sue expects some new members as a result.
Task Force Report: The MSBA Assembly approved up to $11,000 for the Task Force to hire someone to write their report. The specifics of the contract will still need Council approval. Members who wish to recommend someone the MSBA might hire to write the report should contact Nancy.
Subcommittees: The only subcommittee that has met so far is the Sexual Orientation subcommittee. Phil reported that they divided their work according to legal employer type. Nancy will forward minutes from their meeting to the Task Force. The other subcommittees are highly encouraged to meet before September's Task Force meeting.
Powerpoint Presentation: Mike quickly took members through a powerpoint he created regarding the recent MSBA diversity survey; he has presented it twice so far. Members discussed various methods of reaching out to membership using the powerpoint, such as presenting it in law firms and to the district bars as they hold their annual meetings. Members agreed to apply for bias CLE credit for the presentation. The MSBA logo should appear on the powerpoint to make it recognizable as an MSBA product. The powerpoint will be emailed to the steering committee members for additional feedback. Collaboration with the Diversity and Women in the Legal Profession (WLP) Committees is important in this undertaking.
Speaker for November Task Force Meeting: Members discussed having a speaker(s) at the November task force meeting. Suggestions ranged from Victor Anderson to Karen Mathis to a panel of attorneys from Twin Cities Diversity in Practice. Members agreed a joint committee with some members from the Diversity and WLP Committees should be formed to work on the speakers and program. MN CLE might also be asked to participate.
Task Force Website: The Task Force has a link on the Committees webpage of the MSBA site. Members agreed they would like the Task Force's website to include the charge of the Task Force, the meeting schedule, minutes, agendas, prior reports and articles on diversity.
Next Meeting: The Steering Committee's next meeting is set for Thursday,
October 11 at 3:30 p.m. at the MSBA office.
Present: Co-Chairs Dani Deering (by phone) and Sue Holden, Members Leslie Altman, Phil Duran, Tamika Nordstrom, Judge Kathy Sanberg, Mike Tracy and Staff Nancy Mischel.
Review of Task Force Charge: Members reviewed the charge of the Task Force as set forth by the MSBA Assembly. Sue will check with the incoming MSBA President as to expectations and any timeline he may have in mind for completion of the Task Force work. Members agreed there will be limited focus on making the case for diversity; rather the focus is on best practices and specific implementation strategies for legal employers to recruit and retain diverse employees.
Soliciting Input from Sections/Committees/Minority Bars: A letter is being sent to all Section and Committee chairs asking for their input on the Diversity Task Force report. Members agreed that it was very important to solicit input from the minority bars. A suggestion was made to kick off the concept at the next Minority Bar Summit. Nancy will find out when the next one is scheduled. Feedback from the minority bars will be solicited again when a draft of the Task Force's recommendations is complete.
Ideas from Members:
Organizing the Task Force Work: Members agreed it makes sense to divide the work by subcommittee as was done with the Diversity Task Force. One idea was to organize subcommittees based on diversity categories covered in the report (ie; gender, race, religion, etc). Another suggestion was to have different subcommittees in charge of gathering information from the following: corporations, sections/committees/minority bars, public legal employers, national research. It is anticipated that the subcommittees will meet monthly and the full Task Force would meet less frequently, perhaps quarterly or as needed.
Members discussed whether and how to address the pipeline issue. The steering committee recognized pipeline issues as a primary obstacle to successful diversity efforts but did not reach agreement about the depth of inquiry for the Implementation Task Force. It was noted law students were never surveyed as part of the original Diversity Task Force's work and that the Task Force may consider recommending a study of law schools.
Membership Roster: Members are asked to let Sue or Dani know if they think additional people should be added to the Task Force. Any additions should be suggested prior to May 31 when the full Task Force is set to meet.
It was agreed to add a representative from the University of Minnesota who is interested in joining. Members of the judiciary may also be added to the Task Force. Initially, several judges were invited but at this time no response has been received.