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Steering Committee
2/13/06 | 2/3/06 | 12/6/05 | 11/11/05 | 10/28/05

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Steering Committee
Meeting Summary 2-13-06

Members present: Mike Tracy, Bernice Fields, Leslie Altman, Kathleen Sanberg, Wood Foster
MSBA Staff: Nancy Mischel, Sharon Elmore

Mike Tracy requested agenda items for the full Task Force meeting this Wednesday, February 15th. Items suggested included (1) updates from each subcommittee; (2) depending on logistics and staff schedule, possibly a short demonstration of the employer survey electronic format; (3) a call for help from task force members in recruiting participants for the focus groups; and (4) a call for help getting court reporters to volunteer to report a group.

Kathleen Sanberg reported on progress in getting the employer survey into electronic format, including success in working out some potential glitches mentioned in the last meeting. They can now make the online survey work to allow people to begin completing it, close it, and come back to it, without loosing data already entered. The subcommittee expects to give the survey a test run soon, to make sure it works smoothly.

Sharon Elmore answered some questions about the status of the focus group subcommittee. There is a need for help recruiting volunteer court reporters, although we are also currently negotiating with Paradigm Reporting. It appears they will likely report 8 sessions for free, with no requirement for advertisement in the group. Instead some exposure will likely be exchanged, such as an ad in Bench & Bar, or something else. Elmore will discuss with Tim Groshens and then with Paradigm again. Also there is a need to get the word out to recruit participants. We had a notice in MSBA's Legal News Digest, and we will continue to post it there. We will also have a notice in Minnesota Lawyer, but not until February 20th. We hope to get task force members to send an email to their organizations encouraging people to participate. The contact person for interested people is Tram Thai at the MSBA, or 612-278-6316. The concern was also raised that we may not get enough female participants for some of the groups occurring in the evening and on Saturdays, and we will have to monitor that, and adjust timing, if necessary. (The "MWLplus" groups will occur during the day at St. Thomas.)

Elmore also described the discussion of the subcommittee about their concerns related to trying to conduct a focus group covering the issues of religion/creed and diversity in the workplace. The discussion included concerns that it would be problematic putting together small numbers of people from numerous religions, and asking them to talk about their issues with discrimination based on their religion, instead of having groups comprised of people with the same religion, which is just not practical to do. Some felt that there were many people who would indicate that there are no issues of discrimination based on religion, at least not for lawyers from the mainstream religions (Jewish and Christian lawyers), but others pointed out how, indeed, there are issues, such as concerns about taking off work for religious holidays. It was agreed, however, that issues of religious tolerance and diversity around religion were critical issues of our time, locally, regionally and internationally. Hence the subcommittee decided instead of conducting a focus group focused on religion, that a question about religion should be added to every focus group, included in the script.

The Steering Committee respectfully disagreed with the Subcommittee's conclusion. They all agreed that the task of the focus group subcommittee was overwhelming, and they were very appreciative of the wonderful hard work and time commitment of the focus group Co-Chairs and all the members. But they felt that adding a question to each group discussion would needlessly distract from the subject of each group, and that religion was such an important issue that there should be a group devoted to it. They also felt that the participants could discuss whether they had experienced any discrimination in the workplace based on their religion, and rise above differences based on the different religions present. It was felt that such a discussion could provide meaningful information from that perspective. It was felt that we could recruit Jewish and Christian participants fairly easily, perhaps Muslim as well. There was some discussion about whether we could recruit any others, such as Hindu or Buddhist attorneys, and then the question of sensitivity to the fact that some issues may be seen as issues related to religion and/or to ethnicity.

There was a brief question about the Individual Survey Subcommittee, but no-one on the call could provide an update, so that update was tabled.

The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Steering Committee is listed on the web site as March 8th at noon at the MSBA. This date and time is subject to change.

Notes provided by Sharon Elmore, Interim Diversity Task Force Project Manager.

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Steering Committee
Meeting Summary 02-03-06

Members present: Mike Tracy, Leslie Altman, Kathleen Sanberg, Wood Foster.
MSBA Staff: Nancy Mischel, Sharon Elmore

Tracy provided an update from the Focus Group Subcommittee meeting he had attended the day before. He brought a few questions the Subcommittee had posed for the Steering Committee.

The Focus Group Subcommittee is working very hard to pull together and conduct numerous focus groups addressing the various categories of diversity: gender, sexual orientation, race, disabilities and religion/creed. The Subcommittee is relying heavily on the help of the Minority Bar Associations to help recruit participants and perhaps provide volunteer facilitators, given the fact that these focus group sessions must occur within the next few weeks. There is concern that there are insufficient resources to guarantee that the Subcommittee can successfully manage the logistics to conduct a group focused on disabilities and one on religion/creed, since there are no groups, such as the Minority Bar Associations, to whom the Subcommittee can turn to help substantially with the recruitment and logistics. Members present indicated that they feel strongly that the Task Force should include focus groups related to these categories, if at all possible, and perhaps even if those groups' sessions had to be conducted past the timeline for the others.

Tracy offered to talk with Joan Bibelhausen, and the members present brainstormed some contacts for Elmore to explore regarding the religion/creed issue. (Joyce Lahr at the U of MN Law School, Jewish Lawyer Group: Josh Hasko, Christian Lawyers Group: Roger Magnuson at Dorsey and Lisa Schiltz at St. Thomas.) There was some discussion that we should at least make an effort to explore the possibilities here, and look into other groups, if possible, including Muslim, Hindu, Morman, New Age, etc.

Tracy also shared the Focus Group Subcommittee's request for guidance as to how the focus group data should be reported. Does the Steering Committee want the focus to be best practices? Should it focus on comparing or lining up anecdotes with the statistical data? How does the Steering Committee want the material presented or compiled? The answer was that the Committee wants to see what are the themes present today, in terms of complaints, concerns or issues related to diversity, and on the flip side, what things are working now, essentially best practices. There is also a need for stories that may help flesh out the statistical data. The Focus Group Subcommittee does not need to have the statistical data available, however. There is no expectation that the Focus Group Subcommittee will compare the qualitative with the quantitative results. Instead, the Focus Group Subcommittee should consider the survey questions from the statistical surveys, and look for qualitative data that may help further the understanding of the answers to those questions. (In one of the previous reports, the focus groups were held to help enlighten the analysts about what the statistics meant.) Plus there should be some focus on what works.

The Steering Committee briefly discussed the questions developed by the Focus Group Subcommittee. There was a concern that the questions seemed designed to solicit negative feedback, and that it would be best to try and take a more positive approach. It was also agreed that it is vital for facilitators to keep the discussion on track for information that is current, or very recent, and not focused on stories of things that happened 5, 10 or 20 years ago, and that the facilitators must not lead. Elmore explained the planning for process, including the training scheduled for next week for volunteer facilitators. Altman and Foster offered to help facilitate. (Foster cannot make the training next week; Altman did not know yet. Elmore agreed to follow-up with them.) Sanberg offered to be a note-taker. The idea that there may be a need to offer childcare for some participants came up. Sanberg offered to help with childcare during the sessions, if it becomes necessary.

Tracy also explained the question faced by the Subcommittee as to how best to capture and record the data at the focus groups. There is an offer on the table from Paradigm Reporting, to report the first eight groups for free, and any more at a discount, in return for several things, including the opportunity to introduce themselves at each group session for 20 seconds, hand out legal pads and pens with their logo, and some other concessions related to publicity at the MSBA, including an ad in Bench & Bar, etc. The Focus Groups Subcommittee was not of one mind about this issue, and had not resolved it since it came up towards the end of their meeting. The Steering Committee discussed the pros and cons of having court reporters present in the group sessions, including the difficulty of relying on tapes, given that 8 to 10 people would be talking at once, and the need for accuracy. It was decided that it would be preferable to have court reporters in the rooms, but better for various Task Force members to ask the reporters with whom they work on a regular basis, to volunteer their time for a session. Altman agreed to send out an email to the Task Force requesting members to look into this.

Tracy reported that the Bar Convention session on the Task Force work would take place June 23, from 10:30am to noon. Tracy and Altman are to introduce the session, which will cover the process and some information about trends evident from the results. If the report is done, then the report will be discussed.

Sanberg reported on the progress of the Employer (Statistical) Survey Subcommittee. When the MSBA staff take the survey text and put it into electronic form, they will have to tweak some of the questions a little, as to format, not substance. For instance, if a question includes a yes or no answer, but then "if yes, then…" it will require the latter part be created as a separate question. It will take approximately 2 full business days to complete the electronic version, but they will allow for a full 10 business days to get the survey ready, once it is provided to them by the Subcommittee.

Dick Ericson is looking into the issue related to the Subcommittee's concern that people completing the survey may not be able to complete it all in one sitting, given the length. Thus it is preferable that the person can save their work and come back to it. If this cannot be arranged, then the firms will have to be instructed to print the survey, fill it out, and then load the answers all at once. It may be possible to allow people to enter some, save their work and come back later, perhaps by giving each employer their own ID and password. The letter is ready to go to the employers, and will have to be tweaked, depending on this issue. Sanberg expects to hear by Tuesday, Feb. 7. It was also suggested that once the survey is done, they could send it ahead, so the people at the firms could begin to gather the information to enter once the electronic version is available.

The return date planned is April 1. Reminders will go out March 15, and perhaps a last call on March 30, offering 2 weeks to finish.

Confidentiality was discussed briefly. The thought is that it is more important to have the person's name to follow-up to make sure the survey comes in, since there is no individual data requested, as there was last time. Only specific staff at the MSBA will know the contact information.

There is a question whether the results can be filtered by small, medium and large employers for cross-tabulation. The MSBA staff is looking into it.

The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Steering Committee will be Monday, February 13 at noon via conference call. Mischel will send out conference call-in information.

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Steering Committee
Meeting Summary 12-06-2005

Members Present: Leslie M. Altman, Michael A. Tracy Co-chairs; Wood R. Foster Jr., George W. Perez, Kathleen H. Sanberg, Alanna K. Moravetz, Ann Marie Grocholski MSBA Staff

Following introductions, Alanna Moravetz introduced Ann Marie Grocholski as the new Project Manager for the Diversity Task Force. Ann Marie will be responsible for facilitating the completion of the diversity study which the Task Force is about to embark upon. She will help to establish the timeline, attend meetings and discussions and will work together with committees in writing the final report.

Mike Tracy suggested that the goal for the meeting should be to define the goals of three subcommittees and to create a calendar for carrying out the research goals of the Task Force. This information is to be presented to the Task Force at its next meeting on December 14, 2005. The three sub-committees are as follows: The Sub-Committee for Quantitative Analysis, The Sub-Committee for Qualitative Analysis in charge of Individual Surveys, and The Sub-Committee for Qualitative Analysis in charge of Focus Groups.

A great deal of discussion focused upon the responsibilities of the Sub-Committee for Quantitative Analysis. This committee will be charged with updating the SAGE study. This survey aggregates statistics from employers. It was suggested that the study include minorities in addition to gender. Kathleen Sanberg said that the Washington State Bar used the SAGE model, but also included minorities. It was decided that the sub-committee will be charged with determining how the study will define the term “minority”. Firms with over 10 employees will be identified to participate. Approximately 100-125 employers will receive the survey. The advantages and disadvantages of disseminating the survey via mail or having it be web-based was then discussed. It was suggested that a web-based survey would be more cost effective making data collection and analysis much easier. It was also decided that a letter from MSBA President Sue Holden is to be sent to all managing partners after January 1 in order to inform them about, and encourage them to participate in the study.

The sub-committee for Quantitative Analysis will be responsible for: a) Updating SAGE Employer Survey to include minorities in addition to gender b) Identifying the firms and employers who will receive the survey. In doing so, the sub-committee must identify the contact person at each firm. If the original contact person from the SAGE study is no longer present, employers will be asked to provide a new contact person. The question whether or not to include corporate legal departments in the study is to be determined by this sub-committee. The individual who was contacted during the original SAGE study will be contacted. Firms will be asked to provide a new contact if the original person is no longer employed. c) Contacting Firms and Employers d) Coordinating and monitoring survey distribution, data collection and analysis with the University of Minnesota.

The Subcommittee for Qualitative Analysis in charge of Individual Surveys will be responsible for a) Determining what questions will be included in survey. How to best expand the scope of the study to include race, religion, sexual orientation and disabilities. b) How to disseminate the survey, whether via paper or web-based application. Ways to guarantee the confidentiality of the survey should be addressed by the sub-committee if using a web-based application. The committee may also consider coordinating the distribution of the survey with other specialty bar groups. c) Monitoring the collection and analysis of data collected.

The Sub-committee for Qualitative Analysis in charge of Focus Groups will be responsible for a) Identifying participants in the focus groups; b) Coordinating all details of Focus Groups c) Aggregating information from focus group discussions applicable to the study.

The Steering Committee agreed to appoint co-chairs from the Task Force to these committees. In addition, 2 liaisons from the Steering Committee will participate on these sub-committees. George Perez volunteered to be the liaison to the Focus Group Committee. Kathleen Sanberg volunteered to be the liaison to the Quantitative Analysis Committee.

A draft of a project plan and timeline will be given to the Task Force on December 14.

NOVEMBER 11, 2005

Members Present: L. Altman, M. Tracy, Cochairs; K. Sandberg, B. Fields, G. Perez, A. Moravetz, MSBA Staff.

The Steering Committee welcomed Bernice Fields, a new member of the Committee. After reviewing the charge of the Task Force, the committee members discussed how it will move forward with gathering quantitative and qualitative data that expands the data from gender to areas including race, sexual preference, disabilities, and religion/creed.

The Steering Committee agreed that the Task Force must coordinate and collaborate with the HCBA, The Twin Cities Alliance for Diversity in the Law, and other specialty bar associations in the collection of data for this study. The Chairs agreed to send a letter to the heads of the specialty bars to invite them into collaboration with the Diversity Task Force.

The cost proposal prepared by Rossana Armson, Minnesota Center for Survey Research, addressing the survey needs as articulated at the last Steering Committee meeting arrived as the meeting was adjourning. Steering Committee members scheduled a conference call for Tuesday, Nov. 15, 10:00 a.m. to discuss the proposal. In addition, the agenda for the first Diversity Task Force meeting scheduled for Nov. 16 will be determined.

OCTOBER 28, 2005

Members Present: L. Altman, M. Tracy, Cochairs; K. Sandberg, W. Foster, A. Moravetz, MSBA Staff.

The Steering Committee met with Rossana Armson, Director, Minnesota Center for Survey Research, to discuss how to design the work of the Task Force to meet its charge which is to examine the HCBA Glass Ceiling Task Force and SAGE reports and provide updates on both qualitative and quantitative data on diversity in the profession. The Steering Committee discussed expanding its work into the areas race, sexual orientation, disability, and religion as well as gender. Ms. Armson provided information regarding survey methods in those areas of inquiry.

Updating the statistics from the law firms with the SAGE survey will cost approximately $11,000. In addition to the SAGE survey, the committee is exploring surveying members of the profession in Minnesota not just MSBA members. This might include working with the Hennepin and Ramsey County Bar Associations as well as specialty bar associations to encourage their members to respond to surveys and encourage others in the profession to respond to surveys and provide qualitative information regarding their experiences in the practice of law. Alanna will contact the Minnesota Lavendar Bar Association to determine its interest in collaborating with this Task Force.

Ms. Armson asked the committee how it wants to use the information gathered by the Task Force. The Steering Committee agreed that it wants to update the statistical information from the law firms and gather other attitudinal information that might results in best practices that make improvements in the practice of law. Ms. Armson will develop a budget for the collection of attitudinal information and submit it to the Committee in time for its next meeting which is scheduled for Nov. 11.

- Last Updated 12/20/05 -