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Focus Group Subcommittee

Meeting Summaries:

1/5/06 | 1/11/06 | 1/19/06 | 1/26/06 | 2/2/06 | 2/9/06 | 2/16/06


PURPOSE: The purpose of the Focus Groups is to take the pulse of the legal profession on those subjectively hard to quantify perspectives regarding diversity and provide a diagnosis for best practices to promote and embrace diversity going forward.

GOALS: To accomplish this purpose or mission, it is our goal to

(1) gather subjective perspectives on diversity in the legal profession in collaboration with efforts to gather statistics; and
(2) identify Best Practices for addressing any new or ongoing issues of diversity.

(3) Contact individuals and/or bar association groups to identify focus groups of those who have not necessarily been in positions of (e.g. Women, People of Color, Lavender Bar (Sexual Orientation), disabilities, religion/creed);

(4) Compose questions to gather subjective information or perspectives on Diversity; and

(5) Conduct focus groups of like groups face to face.


(6) Describe the current state of diversity in the Legal Profession in these same areas; and

(7) Articulate Best Practices for improvement on addressing any new or ongoing issues of diversity.

Questions: Co-Chairs Phil Duran
Kathleen Marron

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Focus Group Subcommittee
Meeting Summary
February 16, 2006 12:00-1:15 PM

Subcommittee Members Present: Kathleen Marron (Co-Chair), Phil Duran (Co-Chair), Marta Chou, Courtney Reid, Roy Ginsburg, George Perez
Guest: Munir Meghjee, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi
MSBA Staff: Sharon Elmore

1. Focus group planning/recruiting updates

East Asian Group: Kathleen Marron reported that she is working with Munir Meghjee and Seema Shah (Executive Director, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice) to plan a focus group for East Asian lawyers in the Twin Cities. Marron explained that after talking with lawyers from India and Pakistan, she learned it would be valuable to hear from this minority group, in addition to the other groups. East Asians do not necessarily participate in the NAPABA group, at least most do not. Marron can facilitate such a group. Marron introduced Munir Meghjee, who indicated his willingness to assist with recruiting. He estimated there were perhaps 20 to 25 younger attorneys in this category in the Twin Cities, and a handful of more experienced attorneys. This group session will likely be scheduled for sometime after March 11th.

Hispanic Group(s): George Perez reported that there may be two Hispanic groups, one of younger, less experienced attorneys and one of older, more experienced attorneys. It was agreed that planning for two groups will move ahead, with Marta Chou facilitating the second group, of more experienced attorneys. That session will occur at RKMC, at midday (11-1?) on Thursday, Feb. 23rd.

Asian/NAPABA Group: Sharon Elmore will follow-up with Annie Huang to find out how recruiting is going, and whether she has set a date for this group. (If it occurs March 4th, Phil Duran can facilitate. Otherwise, Elmore will find another volunteer facilitator.

MABL/Black Women Lawyers/ African American Group(s): Courtney Reid reported she is still working out the details of the group sessions March 4th. She is willing to facilitate a third group, if there are sufficient participants, but prefers it be scheduled after March 7th in the evening. Elmore agreed to look into room availability at the MSBA. Reid acknowledged the discussion that occurred at last week's meeting regarding the concern that these groups be separated by sector; it may be that there aren't enough people recruited for that.

Disability Group: Vicki Oace will facilitate, at MSBA, Tuesday, Feb. 28th, 5-7pm.

Senior Management Group: No-one has responded yet. Marron has a couple people who may participate. Elmore agreed to ask Tim Groshens to send an email to the roundtable group he meets with.

Parking for Participants: Some participants have asked if their parking could be paid for during the focus groups. Elmore reported that this had come up in a meeting with Tim Groshens and he had indicated the MSBA could not cover everyone's parking. It was agreed that it is hard to recruit people to come for 2 hour sessions and then ask them to pay for parking. It was suggested that we ask law firms to help pay for this. Elmore will look into it.

2. Court Reporting
Brief discussion occurred about the ongoing question regarding court reporters and whether we should use them. The previous conclusion was confirmed that we will try to use them, but we will consider other options for groups where the participants are not comfortable with a court reporter in the room. Options include a remote reporter - where the court reporter transcribes the tapes after the session, but is not in the room during the session. When talking about the African American groups, Reid indicated that she thought some participants would still be uncomfortable with the idea. George Perez inquired whether they would be comfortable if there were an African American court reporter present. Reid agreed to look into that.

3. Summarizing the Focus Groups in Preparation for Report
Discussion occurred about the responsibility of each facilitator to summarize the session afterwards. The key request is for quotes, identifying which question was answered, and preferably the identifying information given by the person quoted, such as years of practice, etc. Marron suggested we create a template with columns across the top, by letter, for each participant, and from top to bottom listing the questions. Then a key will be created at the beginning, based on participants introducing themselves by key indicators - practice area, age, sector, etc. Elmore will find a simple example from the previous reports to illustrate for participants how the information will be identified in the report.

4. Size of Groups
Some discussion occurred around what to do if there are fewer than our target number of participants (8-10) recruited for a given group. Some thought it was fine to hold the group with even a few participants; others were more inclined to require there be a higher number. It was decided to wait and see how the recruiting goes, and allow the volunteer facilitator to help decide how small t a group hey would be willing to facilitate.

5. Facilitator Information
Marron will email the latest versions of the facilitator documents to Chou, who will have binders made up for all facilitators, and will send it to each individually. Chou is also having foam boards made up with the checklist of ground rules and the diversity definition - one set for each focus group location.

a. Marron will meet with Munir Meghjee and Seema Shah regarding an East Asian focus group.

b. Perez will continue to work with the MN Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA) to recruit for the groups next week. Elmore will send an email to Jose Jimenez to give him the contact people and update on these groups. Chou will make arrangements to conduct one of these groups at RKMC Thursday, Feb. 23 midday.

c. Reid will continue to work with MABL and the Black Women Lawyers to recruit for the March 4th groups. She will also look into finding out more about an African American court reporter.

d. Chou will have binders made up for all the facilitators and she will have foam boards made up with the checklist and diversity definition for each focus group location.

e. Elmore (1) will follow-up regarding finding a funding source for parking for participants, (2) will follow-up with Annie Huang regarding the NAPABA group, (3) will ask Tim Groshens to send an email to the roundtable group he meets with, (4) will find an example of a reference to a quote in the previous reports, to use as an example for participants, (5) will send an update to all regarding the focus groups and recruiting

The meeting was adjourned.

The next meeting will be scheduled via email next week. It cannot occur at the same Thursday times because both Co-Chairs have conflicts. It will be a phone conference meeting.

Notes by Sharon Elmore, MSBA Diversity Task Force Project Manager

January 5, 2006, 12:00 p.m.

Present: Kathleen Marron, Co-Chair, Phil Duran, Co-Chair, Sherlene Perrin, Roy Ginsburg, Marta Chou, Mike Tracy, Art Boylan, George Soule, Lisa Brabbit, Judy Rogosheske

1. The meeting began with a discussion of goals and the scope of the work. Mike Tracy, Co-Chair of the Task Force suggested the ultimate goal was to educate employers to hear problems and issues and to find solutions. The subcommittee discussed reviewing the list of recommendations from the 1993 Task Force Report to reflect on what progress has been made toward achieving any of those recommendations. One comment made was that the subcommittee consider framing the questions to be asked positively, to not start with a negative assumption of progress.

2. The second topic discussed was the scope of inquiry. The previous Task Force Report focused on gender and race. Were we to limit our focus again to these groups or to expand the scope of our inquiry to other groups of people not in positions of power. The consensus of the subcommittee members was to expand our focus to be inclusive of gender, color, sexual preference, creed and disabilities.

3. The subcommittee next discussed what could be learned from the 1993 Task Force Report and its statement on its process. In reviewing process matters, the issue of coordination with the statistical subcommittee was raised. The subcommittee brainstormed about questions and found that a number of questions such as: Do you have a Diversity Committee, what is the scope of that committee, how often does it meet, its composition and what dollars were budgeted for such a committee, were all questions that could be covered in the Employer Survey. The Focus Group subcommittee should then ask questions as to the perceptions of the diversity committee, and its effectiveness in the workplace.

4. Using the 1993 Task Force recommendations under "II Recommendations for Actions by Legal Employers", "B. Attitudes, Environment and Culture", "C. Mentoring" and "E. Practice Developments", the committee brainstormed on questions for the focus groups. The committee agreed that the recommendations of the 1993 Task Force would be circulated and that each member of the committee would draft 2 or 3 questions relative to the above identified subject areas of recommendations. Each participant should forward their questions to Nancy will compile them and email them to all members. Committee members were reminded that the 1993 Diversity Task Force Report and the Sage report are available on the MSBA website.

5. Action Items:

A) Committee members will formulate questions and email Alanna by Monday, January 9th per item 4 above.

B) Kathleen Marron and Phil Duran will draft goals of the subcommittee for the next meeting.

C) Judy Rogosheske will ask the HCBA for information on and questions used with the 1993 focus groups.

D) The next meeting will follow the January 11, 2006 Task Force meeting and will be used to identify participants for focus groups. MSBA staff will email representatives of organizations identified for focus groups to attend the January 19 meeting.

E) It was agreed that subsequent meetings will be limited in time to one hour and fifteen minutes as much as possible.

Respectfully submitted,

Judith A. Rogosheske

Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Focus Group Sub-Committee

Meeting Minutes
January 11, 2006, 1:15 PM

Present: Phil Duran, Co-Chair, Roy Ginsburg, Marta Chou, George Soule, Lisa Brabbit, Judy Rogosheske, Courtney Rogers Reid, Hon. George Perez, and Katherine MacKinnon.

1. The Sub-Committee focused upon revising the Focus Group Subcommittee Goal Statement. The Sub-Committee decided to remove goal number three to "provide a roadmap on best practices," believing that this project was better suited to be addressed by the Steering Committee after the report was completed or at another time altogether.

2. Based upon an email that was circulated amongst the group from Courtney Rogers Reid discussing non-diverse persons' perspectives on diversity, the Sub-Committee decided to include a focus group(s) with non-diverse persons. Such a focus group(s) is believed necessary to learn about remaining cultural biases among the majority population. In putting together such a focus group(s), it is important that the non-diverse persons have similar backgrounds so that the group is "value neutral." Further, it is important to pay close attention to the language and tone used in the questioning of focus group(s).

3. The Sub-Committee discussed the importance of sharing information with the other Sub-Committees of the Task Force about what this group is doing, where are line of questioning is going, etc.

4. Action Item: Review the handout from the January 11th meeting, which includes all draft focus group questions submitted by Sub-Committee members, and pick the top 6-8 questions which should be included as final focus group questions.

Next Meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2006 at Noon at the law offices of Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi L.L.P. Please go to the 28th floor and ask for Marta M. Chou.

Notes by: Marta M. Chou

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Focus Group Subcommittee
Meeting Summary
January 19, 2006 12:00-1:15 PM

Subcommittee Members Present: Kathleen Marron (Co-Chair), Phil Duran (Co-Chair), George Soule, Judy Rogosheske, Courtney Rogers Reid, Marta Chou, Art Boylan

Guests: Jose W. Jimenez, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association
Bernice Fields, Black Women Lawyers Association
Nicole Morris, Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers
Annie Huang, National Asian Pacific American Bar MN Chapter

MSBA Staff: Sharon Elmore

Kathleen Marron began the meeting with introductions and welcome to the guest representatives from various Minority Bar Associations.

2. BRIEF OVERVIEW (Role of Focus Groups & Minority Bar Association Leaders)
Marron provided an overview of the Diversity Task Force and the role of the Focus Group Subcommittee, for the benefit of the guests.

The Focus Group Subcommittee has discussed and decided against including suggestions for how best to improve the situation within the timeframe of the current charge, because the deadline is so soon and there is insufficient time to effectively include suggestions for how to improve the situation. Phil Duran noted that the Steering Committee would like the groups to be done in February. Duran noted that may have to go into March.

Marron briefly went through the Subcommittee's Goals and Process Statement, adopted at the last Subcommittee meeting. Draft questions are completed, (Process, #2), and the Minority Bar Association Representatives were contacted and are present at this meeting, (Process, #1).

Both Marron and Duran emphasized the Subcommittee's view of the importance of working with the Minority Bar Associations in gathering the qualitative information through these focus groups. There may be questions that are unique to a population and it is important that the research address such questions as much as possible. The Subcommittee hopes that the Minority Bar Associations will want to share in this process to raise awareness of their groups, to strengthen their relationships with the MSBA and to have an impact in this important area.

There was a brief discussion of concerns regarding confidentiality and the desire to create an environment for the focus groups where participants feel comfortable enough speaking their mind about this sensitive subject. Judy Rogosheske mentioned she had learned that when the Hennepin County Committee conducted the research for the Glass Ceiling Report, participants actually appeared in front of the whole committee. People agreed that it is more desirable to have more confidentiality, and assurances that the audio-taping and/or note-taking would not identify individuals in any way, and that the primary research product would be destroyed after the data was gathered for the report and the report finalized.

Marron asked for input on the focus group questions, first from a big picture standpoint, looking at the condensed version she provided to the participants. Were the major things included or were some missing? Many of the questions on the longer list of questions could be subsumed as bullet points within the bigger picture questions, follow-up questions for the facilitator to use to flesh out the answers. A wide-ranging discussion ensued, as noted in the bullets below. Marron agreed she will revise the questions and circulate the revision to everyone for comments. Sharon Elmore agreed to share information that is more appropriate for statistical surveys with the Individual and Statistical (Organization) Survey Subcommittees.

" Practice Development: Make the reference to 10 years ago more flexible because many participants likely will not have 10 years experience. Suggestions included 5-10? Or qualifying the question with to the extent you have background… how has it changed over time? Or bracket the question and tailor it to the audience, In your professional experience…..

" Compensation questions. For statistical information, share the desire for data about this with the Individual Survey Subcommittee, but for feelings about compensation, focus groups are appropriate. Do you feel you are fairly/equally compensated for your work? Discussion ensued about two areas of inquiry: 1) are people fairly compensated for their work, in situations where they perform equally - billable hours, receipts, bringing in clients, etc., and 2) is work on diversity matters recognized and compensated equally with other activities, such as recruitment. The latter could be covered in statistical surveys.

" The compensation questions above do not really apply to the public sector, where many minority attorneys work. Brief discussion ensued about how to structure the groups, for instance, to conduct separate groups for private/in-house lawyers and for public sector/non-profit lawyers.

" The focus groups questions need to be broad and open-ended, with the possibility of following up to get at more detail. Also the first part of the group sessions, perhaps 20 minutes, need to involve the easy questions, allowing for trust-building among participants, to break the ice, etc.

" When asking about the cultural, social and practice development areas, also ask where the treatment occurred. Get at the who, where, when questions. (Examples: Do the clerks of court treat you differently? It was noted that the clerks of court used to ask for proof of being licensed in Minnesota, but does that still happen? Also noted that one judge had requested a female litigator make copies of opponent's exhibits, 20 years ago, but does that still happen?)

" Importance of questions about exiting - why did you leave your last employer?

" Importance of gathering information about hiring and perceptions about hiring. For instance, there is a perception that it is easier for people in one of these minority groups to be hired.

" Question about declining job offers - did you ever apply for a job and not accept it when offered because of concerns about ….?

" Diversity Consultants - question for statistical surveys. Has your firm hired a diversity consultant? Importance of follow-up questions: How many times did the consultant meet with firm personnel? Did the consultant do presentation(s)? Was there any follow-up? Get at what sort of interaction occurred.

" "Disparate Impact" Question: Are there policies and procedures in your workplace/profession that "apply" to everyone, but seem to always affect you and your colleagues more?

" Brief discussion of idea raised in previous Subcommittee communications to conduct a focus group of non-diverse lawyers in similar positions of power, to explore their views about diversity.


" Discussion continued about need for assuring participants of confidentiality and concern that some may not want to participate if the session is recorded and notes taken. It could help to have the sessions separate within the various Minority Bar Associations, so the participants will feel more comfortable. There will also be group sessions held with a mixture of individuals from the different minority groups, but at a similar level in their job. As representatives recruit members to participate, they can let the potential participants know ahead of time that the session will be recorded and notes taken, so they know that before they commit to being involved. Also the representatives indicated they could take the position, in recruiting people, that this is an opportunity to have an impact and share stories and anecdotes anonymously.

" Potential locations were discussed. Art Boylan indicated Lindquist & Vennum would probably be able to provide space. But people noted that participants may be more comfortable in a more neutral environment, such as the MSBA offices, or MSBA CLE space, or HCBA, or spaces currently used or frequented by the various Minority Bar Associations.

" Ideal size discussed: best between 8 and 10, sometimes held with 6-10 or 12.

" Include, with assurances of confidentiality, some brief information about how the responses will be used.

" Facilitators will be volunteers, including Alanna Moravitz, who recently left the MSBA to work on her own and has offered to help with some of the groups. For the groups within the individual Minority Bar Associations, it may be best to have someone within the organization facilitate the group(s). There is not sufficient funding to hire professional facilitators/moderators.

" Some discussion occurred about whether to send out the questions to participants ahead of time. It was decided not to send out the actual questions in advance, but that some introductory information would go out, covering generally what would happen at the sessions, categories of questions, time commitment, and how the information would be used. The goal is to get candid information that has not been prepared ahead of time.

Marron requested information from each of the representatives of Minority Bar Associations as to the number of focus group sessions they could have.

# Organization Representative
1 Black Women's Lawyers Assoc. Bernice Fields

2 MN Hispanic Bar Assoc. Jose Jimenez
(1 private/in-house, 1 public/non-profit)

3 MN Assoc. of Black Lawyers Nicole Morris
(1 Sr., 1 Jr., 1 public/non-profit)

1 (or 2) Nat'l Asian Pacific American Bar MN Chapter Annie Huang

1 (or 2) MN Lavender Bar Assoc. Phil Duran

1 MN American Indian Bar Assoc. George Soule

Elmore agreed to contact the MN Women Lawyers to enlist their help.


1. Minority Bar Associations representatives will recruit people interested in participating in the focus groups, and will provide contact information for those individuals to the Subcommittee, including name, email address, direct line phone numbers, or however they would prefer to be contacted by the Subcommittee. When recruiting, the representatives will also ask the potential participants whether they would prefer to participate in a focus group held with members of their own Minority Bar Association, or a focus group held with a mix of individuals from different groups, but at the same level in their job.

2. Marron will revise the shortened group of questions incorporating the comments provided at the meeting. She will also draft and distribute a confidentiality statement.

3. Elmore will contact the MN Women's Lawyers.

4. Marron invited all guest representatives from the Minority Bar Associations to return if they are interested and can spare the time, or to send another representative, if they like, to next week's meeting, where the Subcommittee will continue planning the groups, and will discuss the idea of conducting a focus group of non-diverse individuals in a position of power at their employer.

Marta Chou gave a quick update on plans for the Final Report at the MSBA Convention June 22 & 23. 1.5 hours of CLE has been approved for a session to cover the report, if finished, or the process, if the report is not yet final. Tentative plans include the Task Force Chairs providing an overview, followed by panels to discuss the issues and process. More information to follow, when time allows.

The meeting was adjourned.

NEXT MEETING: Thursday, January 26, 2006, noon-1:15PM at the offices of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. Please go to the 28th floor and ask for Marta M. Chou.

Notes by Sharon Elmore, MSBA Diversity Task Force Project Manager

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Focus Group Subcommittee
Meeting Summary
January 26, 2006 12:00-1:15 PM

Subcommittee Members Present: Kathleen Marron (Co-Chair), Phil Duran (Co-Chair), Courtney Rogers Reid, Marta Chou, Roy Ginsburg, Alanna Moravetz

Guests: Debra Pexa, Minnesota Women Lawyers
Nicole Morris, Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers

MSBA Staff: Sharon Elmore

Kathleen Marron and Phil Duran began the meeting with introductions and welcome to the guests. Duran and Marron provided a brief overview of the Diversity Task Force and the role of the Focus Group Subcommittee, for Debra Pexa from MWL. Pexa expressed MWL's support for the Diversity Task Force and MWL's desire to help in any way they can.

The bulk of the meeting was spent discussing the focus group questions. Marron had sent via email a revised version of the shorter question list, based on discussion during last week's meeting and input from the minority bar association representatives. Marron explained the need to narrow down the topics even more, and the need to prioritize them, in order to effectively garner information during the two hour focus groups. Marron had learned from Kathy Sanberg that when the research was conducted for the prior reports, there were only three main areas of inquiry or questions used in the previous focus groups. The exact questions used before are not available now, although Sanberg is looking into that.

Focus groups involve asking very broad, open-ended questions, and then following up with questions to draw out the discussions. It became clear that the various questions in the shortened version are related, and that all six areas may well come out when broad questions are posed. Also, all the questions/categories fall within one of the broad three areas of (1) Culture, (2) Logistics/Process (later changed to Hiring, Retention & Advancement), and (3) Opportunities/Mentoring/Professional Development. The subcommittee went through the process of prioritizing the questions, to narrow the primary lines of questioning down to three areas, if possible. This also involved refining and clarifying some of the terminology. Each person voted on their top three questions/categories, from the 6 areas on the shortened version of questions. The highest priority went to (1) Professional Opportunities; (2) Evaluation, Retention and Advancement, and (3) Culture. Marron agreed to revise and distribute the questions based on the discussion and prioritization process.

A few items related to the specifics of planning the groups were touched on briefly, and some were tabled for further discussion at next week's meeting.

" Facilitators: Alanna Moravetz offered to lead a discussion/training for the volunteer facilitators, likely running about 2 hours. The goal is to cover some basics of conducting focus groups and to go over the questions/topics/methodology, to allow for as much consistency as possible across the groups. Moravetz, Marron and Roy Ginsburg volunteered to be facilitators for groups. Anyone else who is interested should please let Marron, Duran and/or Elmore know. Moravetz agreed to send the Co-Chairs times she is available to conduct the training in February.

" Documenting Groups: Marron shared more from her discussion with Sanberg about the process the last time around. There were two note takers and a tape of the group sessions. The tape was only used to fill in gaps, and the tapes were eventually destroyed. Sanberg had suggested to Marron that the tapes be transcribed, if possible. It was agreed that this would make it easier to keep people's comments anonymous and confidential.

" Size of Groups: Ideally 8 to 10 participants per group.

" Number of Groups: Brief discussion occurred about how many groups to conduct. There was concern that it may not be feasible to conduct as many as the group had hoped in the short timeframe allowed. At last week's meeting, the various minority bar association representatives committed to help with 1, 2 or 3 groups, totaling at least 9, if not 11 (MN Black Women Lawyers: 1, MN Hispanic Bar Assoc: 2, MABL: 3, NAPABA: 1 or 2, MN Lavender Bar Assoc: 1 or 2, MN American Indian Bar Assoc: 1). Add to that 3 groups from MWL, 1 group of senior management "non-diverse" attorneys, and possibly 1 each addressing the issue of disabilities and religion/creed, and the total would range from 15 to 17.

Concern was raised as to whether the Subcommittee can realistically pull together and conduct that many, especially for the areas where there is no one group, such as the minority bar associations, to provide significant help with recruiting participants, etc. This issue was not resolved, but it was suggested that it may not be possible to do a group specifically devoted to disabilities and one focused on religion/creed issues. Duran said Joan Bibelhausen of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers was interested in helping.

" Locale to Hold Groups: Brief discussion about where to hold the groups, including idea of holding several groups at once at the MSBA offices, and recruiting people to participate at one of the groups, as they choose. It was suggested that some participants may be more comfortable participating in groups among their peers from within their own minority bar association, while others may be comfortable participating in groups drawn from all the groups. It was also suggested we schedule some times at the MSBA to reserve the spaces, and consider having at least some of the groups there, and perhaps holding others elsewhere.

" Timeline: Generally discussion included the thought that we need to meet with a focus group expert within a week, if possible, to review the questions and process, perhaps. We will likely try to conduct the groups in the last week of February. Finalizing a timeline was tabled for next week's meeting, and will be a key agenda item at that meeting.

" Group X: Brief discussion of desire to conduct a focus group of senior management attorneys. Roy Ginsburg agreed to take responsibility for that focus group. More discussion required at next meeting.

" Legal News Digest: The Subcommittee can put a notice (i.e., recruiting participants) in the Legal News Digest anytime, by getting the text to Pat Everheart at the MSBA, preferably by Monday morning, to make it into that week's LND.

1. Key agenda items next week:
" Specific Timeline
" Assign subcommittee representatives responsible for keeping each focus group preparation/planning on schedule
" "Group X" focus group
" More specific planning of focus groups

2. Moravetz will provide Co-Chairs available times for training
3. Marron will revise and distribute questions
4. Elmore will follow-up regarding holding rooms at MSBA towards end of February, and will contact research professionals to schedule time to go over questions

The meeting was adjourned.

NEXT MEETING: Thursday, February 2, 2006, noon-1:15PM at the offices of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. Please go to the 28th floor and ask for Marta M. Chou.

Notes by Sharon Elmore, MSBA Diversity Task Force Project Manager

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Focus Group Subcommittee
REVISED Meeting Summary
February 2, 2006 12:00-1:15 PM

Subcommittee Members Present: Kathleen Marron (Co-Chair), Phil Duran (Co-Chair), Arthur Boylan, Roy Ginsburg, Judy Rogosheske, George Perez, Lisa Brabbit, Marta Chou, Mike Tracy, Kate MacKinnon, Courtney Reid
MSBA Staff: Sharon Elmore

1. Update on last week's meeting (final questionnaire)
Kathleen Marron provided an update of last week's meeting, referring to the revised focus group questionnaire sent out via email. She explained the process that those attending last week went through to prioritize the questionnaire. Each member was given 3 votes to prioritize the 6 categories of questions. The goal was to narrow down the questions to avoid spending too much time during the focus groups trying to ask too many questions. The result was the shortened group of questions, now listing 3 categories or questions, plus the 4th questions about whether there has been improvement over time.

The revised questionnaire was discussed and several suggestions made for tweaking the language and for questions to probe more, once the initial responses were made. These ideas included the need to distinguish whether the responses are based on the firm or organization overall or based on the behavior or attitudes of isolated individuals within the organization and whether other members of the workplace address any of the concerns raised in the responses.

Discussion followed about the introductory comments for the focus groups, including comments to put people at ease, cover confidentiality, include a definition of diversity, the need to find out if the problem discussed is systemic or one or two individuals, the necessity to not name people or firms names. Also the need for consistency in language came up - to decide on using the word bias or stereotype and stick to one, plus the need to include a definition at the beginning.

2. Focus Group Process
Duran gave an overview of some of the process issues about the focus groups, with a lengthly discussion about group composition. Each group will have 8 to 10 participants.

Group Composition
Duran explained there has been discussion about the need to divide the groups by level, such as senior vs. junior or associate attorneys, and the desire to divide by private vs. public/non-profit. It was suggested that the senior/junior distinction may not be so relevant for groups other than women and possibly African American. There was agreement that if possible, the goal should be to have somewhat homogenous groups, and while it is preferable to divide by public vs private, that the level of service is a more important distinction, if it comes down to a need to prioritize.

There was discussion of the situation regarding the number of focus groups we hope to conduct. After the meeting a couple weeks ago, where representatives of the various Minority Bar Associations were present, it was hoped we might conduct as many as 15 or more. That number contemplates the representations made by the representatives of the Minority Bar Associations that they would help recruit participants for groups. (15 comes from the following goals: MN Hispanic Bar: 2, MN Assoc Black Lawyers: 3, Nat'l Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc: 1 or 2, MN Lavender Bar Assoc: 1 or 2, MN American Indian Bar Assoc: 1, MN Black Women Lawyers: 1, MN Women Lawyers: 2 or 3, Group X: 2 groups of "non-diverse" individuals, one Senior Management Lawyers, another younger associates.)

But we are also mindful of the incredibly rapid timeline involved here. We must conduct these groups - recruit and train facilitators, recruit participants, arrange logistics, etc. in two or three weeks from today. With that in mind, and being mindful of the limited resources available to us, the Co-Chairs and MSBA staff (Marron, Duran and Elmore) had discussed the idea of setting a bare minimum number of groups, with priorities clear. That number involved either 5 or 8, broken down as follows: 1- women, 2- senior women, 3- race (mixed), 4- sexual orientation, 5- senior management. The two groups with women were based on the fact that the pool of women lawyers to recruit from is so much larger. Discussion had centered around adding the additional requirement that at least 4 groups should be conducted in the race category, preferably with homogenous groups, including African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American. That raises the minimum to 8 groups, with the goal of conducting more, if there is sufficient help in recruiting participants, and sufficient volunteer facilitators available.

There was also discussion about how and whether the subcommittee can take on the task of conducting groups focused on disabilities and on religion/creed. Marron acknowledged that the full Diversity Task Force is trying to address those areas, but emphasized that the Subcommittee runs the risk of spreading itself too thin and not producing anything of quality, if we take on these two areas, without any group to assist us with the recruiting and logistics. Mike Tracy agreed to take the issue back to the Steering Committee.

There was a brief discussion about how to capture the data. Several people volunteered their firm's transcription services to help. Elmore raised the fact that Paradigm Reporting had made a proposal to have court reporters present and report 8 groups for free, and any above that for a discount. But in return they want several things, including the ability to introduce themselves, hand out legal pads and pens, plus some MSBA concessions regarding advertising, etc. There was a short but spirited discussion about the pros and cons of this. Some thought the court reporter would be more neutral than having law firm personnel transcribe the tapes; others thought the reporter in the room would affect the integrity of the process, especially if allowed to have a free advertisement at the beginning. Elmore reported that Tim Groshens thought the subcommittee should discuss it, but his reaction was that there should be no introduction by the court reporter, but the facilitator could briefly thank the reporter for their free service (5 seconds as opposed to 20). Time was running out so it was agreed that the rest of the subcommittee should weigh in on this issue and Tracy agreed to raise it at the Steering Committee meeting the next day. Elmore agreed to send out the proposal.

Elmore listed the dates and times that the 3 large MSBA rooms have been scheduled, with the idea that 2 hour groups sessions would be fit into these times, with some cushion.

Feb 22, 23, 24 (WED, THURS, FRI 5-8pm, Feb 25 (SAT) 12:30-4pm
Feb 28, Mar 1, 2 (TUES, WED, THURS 5-8pm), Mar 4 (SAT) 9am-4pm

It was suggested we throw out Mar 2nd because it is the night of the Hennepin County Bar Benefit, and also throw out Mar 1st because it is Ash Wednesday. The Hispanic Bar Assoc gala is Feb 22, but it was decided not to cancel that date, as other groups could be held that night.

We need facilitators for all these dates, and possibly others, as we schedule groups. Several people volunteered, and those who can will attend the facilitator training session being held Wed., Feb 8 from 7:30-9am at the MSBA. Alanna Moravetz will facilitate this training. Marron pointed out it is important that all facilitators conduct the groups in as similar a fashion as possible. Those who attend will share information at the subcommittee meeting the following day. The following people volunteered to be facilitators: Lisa Brabbit, Phil Duran, Mike Tracy, Kathleen Marron, Courtney Reid, Judy Rogosheske, Roy Ginsburg, Arthur Boylan and Marta Chou. (Duran, Rogosheske and Marron indicated availability on the Saturdays. Tracy indicated availability for all 3 days the first week, as did Marron.)

Subcommittee members responsible for each group category
Volunteers were sought to take responsibility for making sure each group or category of group gets conducted.
Senior Management: Roy Ginsburg
Hispanic group(s): George Perez
MABL & Black Women Lawyers: Courtney Reid
Sexual Orientation group(s): Phil Duran
Sr Women: Judy Rogosheske
Women (Associate level): Lisa Brabbit
Native American: Elmore agreed to call George Soule
Tracy will contact Joan Bibelhausen to look into help with getting a disabilities group together.

Rapid discussion occurred about what sort of timeline we should set to have the transcripts completed and to members to review. Many people are gone the last 2 weeks of March, so it was felt the goal should be to have transcripts done by March 13th, a Monday, in time for the subcommittee meeting that Thursday, March 16th.

Nature or form of reporting data
There was some discussion about how the data should be reported to the full task force, and the question was posed as to what would the Steering Committee like to see from the subcommittee. Should the focus be comparing the anecdotes or stories to the statistical data or should it be focused on best practices, like the SAGE report was? Tracy emphasized that if it was necessary to produce a quality product, then the report did not absolutely have to be done in time for the Bar Convention presentation June 23rd. In fact, the Steering Committee had changed the language in the Convention program to reflect a presentation about the process, rather than promising a final report. Tracy also thanked all the subcommittee members for their tremendous effort, and he hoped as many as possible of the members could come to the Convention and be recognized for their efforts. Marron and Duran will help present, as Co-Chairs.

Marron requested Tracy go back to the Steering Committee and let the Subcommittee know what sort of report of focus group data they expected from us.

It was decided to continue the Thursday meetings, for now.

1. Anyone who wants to provide specific input as to tweaking the questionnaire, please send those comments to Marron as soon as possible. (
2. Marron will send a list of things to ask the minority bar associations, to the members who took responsibility for the various categories of groups.
3. Anyone who can facilitate groups should let Elmore know that, and include what dates you are available to facilitate. (
4. Tracy will take our questions back to the Steering Committee, regarding what report format is expected of the Focus Group Subcommittee, what their reaction is to the transcription question, and what is their position on the number of types or categories of groups to be held, given the rapid timeline.
5. Elmore will contact George Soule regarding the Native American group session, and will send the Paradigm Reporting proposal out with the meeting summary.

The meeting was adjourned.
NEXT MEETING: Thursday, February 9, 2006, noon-1:15PM at the offices of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. Please go to the 28th floor and ask for Marta M. Chou.

Notes by Sharon Elmore, MSBA Diversity Task Force Project Manager

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
Focus Group Subcommittee
Meeting Summary
February 9, 2006 12:00-1:15 PM

Subcommittee Members Present: Kathleen Marron (Co-Chair), Phil Duran (Co-Chair), Art Boylan, Marta Chou, Courtney Reid, Kate MacKinnon, Judy Rogosheske, Roy Ginsburg
Guests: Annie Huang (NAPABA)
MSBA Staff: Sharon Elmore

1. Timeline
Marron reviewed the proposed timeline to give to the Steering Committee.
a. Feb 22- March 11: Conduct and complete all focus groups
b. March 16: Final deadline for completion of transcripts
c. March 17-April 5: Review & summarize salient points from transcripts
d. April 6: Subcommittee Thurs meeting to discuss drafting report
e. May 1: Rough draft of Focus Groups Report
f. May 15: Final Subcommittee Report to Steering Committee

2. Reporting Format and References to Groups/Categories
How to refer to and report on the format of the focus groups was discussed. It was suggested that we designate each group with a letter of the alphabet - Group A, B, C, etc., but for record keeping purposes also designate the population covered in each group. The final report need not show the population covered, but for purposes of reviewing the transcripts to create the report, the category should be available. Marta Chou pointed out how the previous reports referred to anecdotes with some identifying information about the person telling the story, such as "a woman in her fifties with 20 years practice experience in private law firms said….." This was helpful for people reading the report. Discussion followed with the conclusion that we should insure such references were possible by having people clearly identify such information, if they so choose - making it voluntary. It might help to also include an example of how the information will be used in the report, possibly within the script.

3. Structure of Focus Groups (public/private/mixed)
There was some discussion as to what is the ideal structure or composition of the groups, based on a concern raised by MABL. Courtney Reid shared concerns expressed by Jerry Blackwell, MABL President, that the results not end up with generalized information that lumped all from a minority group together regardless of where they were employed, at what type of organization they worked. It is important to recognize the context of comments based on where the person works: private sector, nonprofit/public sector/government. The idea of mixing participants of different minority groups was also a concern, given the possibility that people's experiences could be so different that it would make it less meaningful. Reid indicated that MABL is very excited about what the MSBA is doing and wants to be involved, but is concerned about the time crunch, to try and get the quality of product, i.e., to recruit for enough groups to make it meaningful. The MABL/African American groups will be scheduled for March 4th, and the idea will be to try and recruit for 3 separate groups, divided by type of employer.

4. Court Reporters
There was some discussion about the issue of how to report the information from the groups. There are some still concerned about that, and it was decided that if that concern remains, there is the possibility of having the court reporter machine in the room and the session transcribed later, as is customarily done with unemployment compensation hearings. Annie Huang also indicated that some of the potential NAPABA participants are concerned about court reporters in the room, and will not participate if that is the case. The group agreed that to help recruit from the already smaller universe of potential participants for the NAPABA/Asian group, we should offer the opportunity to have the court reporter machine on in the room, and then transcribed. This was seen as better than not capturing any of the information from this minority group.

Marron reviewed the considerations regarding court reporting for representatives to take back to the groups to share.
1)Anonymity - Court reporters report hearings, depositions, etc., all the time, and once they are finished with this session, will go on to something else, and will quickly forget the content of the group session.
2) Accuracy - The court reporter transcript will be much more accurate than using note-takers and transcribing a tape.
3) Speed - Court reporters are used to a quick turn-around with the transcript.
4) If there is still concern about having court reporters in the room, after discussing the first three items, there is the option of having the machine in the room and having the reporter transcribe the tape afterwards.

5. Focus Group Planning Updates
Judy Rogosheske gave an update on the gender issues groups, being planned with the help of Deb Pexa at MWL. Deb is drafting a form to use to recruit participants, which can perhaps be used for other recruiting. They will send an email to MWL, and discussed other groups, as well (National Association of Women Judges - NAWJ, Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association - MTLA), and raised the concern that this was somewhat self-selecting. Brief discussion followed about the need for more general recruiting, such as through the MSBA Legal News Digest (LND) - as we are currently doing, Bench & Bar (timing difficult), Minnesota Lawyer, etc. Responses to recruiting letters or emails or ads should go to Tram Thai at the MSBA. (tthai@ or 612-278-6316). Groups at St. Thomas to be held: Thurs, Feb 23: 11:30am-1pm, Sat. Feb 25: 9-11am and Tues March 7: 3-5pm.

Concern was raised about the Native American/MAIBA group. Elmore agreed to try again and reach George Soule, and Rogosheske agreed to follow-up with someone at her firm.

Annie Huang from NAPABA reported on the status of the NAPABA group. There are some who are reluctant to participate if there is a court reporter in the room. Huang will discuss the issues raised above with NAPABA, but we can plan to record as mentioned in number 4) above, to make it easier to recruit those who are reluctant. Elmore will send Huang the current dates available at the MSBA for focus groups.

Joan Bibelhausen has agreed to put together a focus group around issues of MI/CD disabilities. She provided Elmore with some contacts to pursue doing another group around issues of physical disabilities.

5. Religion/Creed
There was a lengthy discussion about issues related to the religion/creed focused group. Some felt it was problematic to try and do a group comprised of people from different religions, given the nature of their issues could be so different, and even in conflict with each other. (E.g., Issues related to holidays, Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas.) But it was clearly too much to try and do separate focus groups focused individually on one religion - both in terms of recruiting, but also logistics, etc. But there was general agreement that the issue of diversity and religion is a very important one, that discrimination on the basis of religion is a very important topic locally, nationally and internationally. And thus the idea was raised that it is an issue that is of significant enough importance that it should be covered in all groups, as part of the script, as a probing question.

a. Elmore will get notice in LND again, and will look into other options: Minnesota Lawyer - Michelle Lore, etc. Bench & Bar (although timing is difficult given how soon we will do the groups). Also getting task force members to send email to their organization/firm recruiting people.
b. Elmore will try and contact George Soule re MAIBA group and will get available dates to Huang.
c. Reid, Huang, Rogosheske will continue working within their groups to help get groups together. Elmore will work with Joan Bibelhausen regarding the disability group focused on MI/CD disabilities, and with other contacts on group focused on physical disabilities.

The meeting was adjourned.

NEXT MEETING: Thursday, February 16, 2006, noon-1:15PM at the offices of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. Please go to the 28th floor and ask for Marta M. Chou.

Notes by Sharon Elmore, MSBA Diversity Task Force Project Manager