MSBATask Force on Diversity in the Profession
MSBA home pageMSBA committees
committee homepage
Meeting Schedule and Agendas
Steering Committee
Focus Group Subcommittee
Statistical Survey Subcommittee
Individual Survey Subcommittee
Readings and Resources
Report and Recommendations
Contact Us
Next Meeting: TBD


4/19/06 |3/15/06 | 2/15/06 | 1/11/06 | 12/14/05 | 12/6/05 | 11/16/05

MSBA Diversity Task Force
Meeting Summary
April 19, 2006

Members Present: Leslie Altman and Mike Tracy, Co-Chairs; A. Boylan, G. Bulinkski, M. Chou, P. Duran, A. Easley, B. Fields, W. Foster, R. Ginsburg, A. Johnson, K. MacKinnon, K. Marron, N. Peralta, Judge K. Sanberg, M. Ward

MSBA Staff: S. Elmore, N. Mischel

Steering Committee Report: The Steering Committee met last week with Ann Marie Grocholski, who is contracting with the MSBA to write the final report. The goal is to have much of the data turned over to Ann Marie by May 1. She will have a draft report to the Task Force for review prior to the June Assembly.

Subcommittee Updates

Statistical (Employer) Survey Subcommittee: Ann Johnson reported that so far 18 law firms have responded to the statistical survey and 14 public/corporate legal employers have responded. The deadline for responses is this Friday, April 21, but the group agreed to extend that to the following Friday, April 28. Nancy Mischel will email to the group the list of those who have responded so far, as well as those who have not. This list will include the contact person who received the survey. Members should contact their own employers if they are on the list of non-respondents and encourage completion of the survey. Members are also asked to contact any other nonrespondents they have connections with and urge they fill out the survey. Please let Nancy M know if you make any follow-up calls. An MSBA temp will also make some follow-up calls next week.

Individual Survey Subcommittee: Nelson Peralta reported that the individual survey has been reviewed and revised by Rossana Armson at the University of Minnesota Center for Survey Research. MSBA staff have been putting into web survey format and are close to finished with that process. The link to the web survey will be emailed to all the Task Force members for final edits and testing. While it has been tested internally at the MSBA, it has not yet been tested externally. The Task Force discussed how best to ensure a large number of attorneys fill out the survey. A cover email from MSBA President Sue Holden may work for many people, but not for others. Section and Committee chairs will be asked to forward the survey to their members, as will leaders of the minority and specialty bars. The group agreed to allow individual respondents two weeks to complete the survey, with a minimum of one reminder and possibly more being sent out by the MSBA.

Focus Group Subcommittee: Kathleen Marron updated the Task Force on the 13 focus groups that have been conducted thus far, with two more to come. One template has been completed by a group facilitator; facilitators are asked to return these by April 30. Marron led a discussion about the issues surrounding the religion focus group and recruiting for it. Despite the difficulties recruiting, it was agreed that this is an important area to address as best we can. Phil Duran reported on the subcommittee's progress pulling together the focus group data for the Task Force report. Duran and Marron will prepare a cover memo condensing the summaries and outlining the process or methodology used for the focus groups. The cover memo and the templates will be available to the Steering Committee and Ann Marie Grocholski by May 17th.

Timeline for Task Force Work: Nancy M will send out a list of tasks yet to be completed and a timeline for the Task Force to complete its work.

The meeting was adjourned. The Diversity Task Force meets next on May 17. Please note this meeting may need to be held at a location other than the MSBA due to lack of conference room availability.

MSBA Diversity Task Force
Meeting Summary
March 15, 2006

Members Present: Mike Tracy, Co-Chair; G. Bulinkski, P. Duran, R. Ginsburg, A. Johnson, A. Kaul, M. Garvis, K. MacKinnon, K. Marron, S. McKay, C. Reid, J. Rogosheske, Judge K. Sanberg, G. Soule
By Phone: A. Boylan, Cheryl Dalby (for Mary Ward)
MSBA Staff: S. Elmore (by phone), N. Mischel

Subcommittee Updates

Statistical (Employer) Survey Subcommittee: Ann Johnson reported that the two employer surveys will be emailed this Friday, March 17 and given a deadline of April 17. One or two reminders will be sent at set periods prior to the deadline to those employers who have not yet responded. The employer surveys will also be emailed under Sue Holden's name, along with the names of the Task Force Chairs. A question was raised whether the names of employers who do not respond will be publicized. The answer is no; although those that do respond will be recognized.

Individual Survey Subcommittee: Greg Bulinksi reported that the individual survey has been sent to Rossana Armson at the University of Minnesota Center for Survey Research so that she can review the questions and provide feedback. MSBA staff will contact Ms. Armson to stress the importance of a timely response from her. Mr. Bulinksi estimates it will take most people approximately ½ hour to complete the survey. Members agreed the survey should be emailed to those at the meeting and members of the focus group subcommittee to see how long it takes them to fill out, as well as for their feedback.

The preamble to the individual survey still needs to be drafted; Mr. Bulinski will do this. Instructions will include telling recipients the estimated time it will take to complete the survey. Members agreed it would be helpful to have MSBA President Sue Holden sign the cover email (or preamble) on any surveys to encourage individuals and employers to take the time to respond. The MSBA's survey software may not be capable of dealing with such a potentially large number of respondents; Dick Ericson at the MSBA is looking at alternatives. Confidentiality of respondents was discussed. In case the Center for Survey Research is used to send and/or compile the results, MSBA staff will find out whether the Center would be required to reveal information regarding respondents if a FOIA request was filed.

Focus Group Subcommittee: Kathleen Marron distributed a list of the focus groups conducted so far and those still to come. The most important element preventing people from being fully candid was combining less experienced attorneys with more experienced attorneys. Transcripts of the focus groups are coming in. Ms. Marron also passed out a template that each focus group facilitator will use to report raw data results; it does include a section for facilitator comments regarding tone of the group and process.

Timeline for Task Force Work: Mike Tracy complimented members on the work done so far and the fact that for the most part, tasks are being completed in a timely fashion. The goal is to have all the focus groups completed and survey results in (or close to it) by the end of April. That will provide one and one-half months to write the report. The goal is to have the report completed by the time of the June Assembly. If this cannot be done, the Task Force at least needs sufficient information to make a presentation at the Assembly.

The meeting was adjourned. The Diversity Task Force meets next on April 19. Please note this meeting may need to be held at a location other than the MSBA due to lack of conference room availability.

MSBA Diversity Task Force
Meeting Summary
February 15, 2006

Members Present: L. Altman, Co-Chair, L. Brabbit, G. Bulinksi, B. Fields, R. Ginsburg, A. Johnson, K. MacKinnon, S. McKay, K. Marron, N. Peralta, C. Reid, K. Sanberg, M. Ware.

MSBA Staff: S. Elmore, N. Mischel

Subcommittee Updates
1. Individual Survey: Nelson Peralta and Greg Bulinski reported that the subcommittee had met and gone through a process of creating and editing draft surveys. They now have a draft that is almost ready for review by Rossana Armson, or her designee, at the U of M Center for Survey Research. The survey is currently written in several different voices, and the presentation needs to be in one voice. They expect the final product to be ready within 7 to 10 days.

Some of the issues they face include concerns about length, distribution of the survey, and the timeframe covered in the questions.

Length: The survey is currently about 39 pages, even with the extensive editing done by the subcommittee. There are about 150 questions in the instrument, but any given respondent will not be answering all of those. One respondent may answer about 25-40 questions.

Distribution: Concern was raised about the duplication involved in the currently planned distribution methodology, where the MSBA will email the survey link to its membership and the minority bar associations will also send out notices of the survey with a link to the actual online survey. It has been previously discussed and decided that it was desirable to have the link to the survey go out from the leadership of the respective minority bar associations, because members may be more likely to respond and complete the survey if it is sent by the group's leadership. But if there are multiple or duplicate "solicitations" of responses to the survey being sent, then it will be difficult to get an accurate count of the response rate. The response rate may appear lower than it really is because people have been notified of the survey more than once. Concern was also raised about bothering people with too many notices of the survey. Some felt that multiple notices about the survey were fine, since it might end up motivating people to complete it. Some suggested we compare the MSBA list with the minority bar lists and remove duplications. The MWL list is close to 1200, and there is a lot of overlap there. Plus some members may be part of more than two groups, such as the MWL, the MSBA, the Minnesota Black Women Lawyers and MABL. Someone suggested we use the Supreme Court list, but it was pointed out that the Supreme Court list is not an email list; the addresses are regular mail addresses. It was decided that the subcommittee members would consult with the U of MN research experts about this matter.

Timeframe of questions: The subcommittee was not of one mind on the issue of the timeframe for the activities or discrimination inquired about. If the focus was "recent" then how far back does that entail: 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Several indicated that the focus should be more recent, but the Focus Group Subcommittee raised the concern that while the SAGE and Glass Ceiling reports addressed gender issues that far back, those reports did not address the other areas that this report is looking at: race, sexual orientation, disability and religion. Therefore, it is important to go back 10 years, at least regarding those issues. It was decided the subcommittee will take the same approach as the Focus Group Subcommittee (2-5-10 years).

2. Focus Group Subcommittee: Kathleen Marron reported about the process the subcommittee has undertaken, and then about three outstanding issues.

Process: The subcommittee has been meeting weekly and the minutes are posted on the web site if people are interested in seeing more detail. The subcommittee has amended the goal statement to include the focus on best practices after receiving feedback from the Steering Committee. The goal is also to keep the focus as positive as possible, and avoid the sessions becoming a gripe session. Pam Jones from the U of MN Center for Survey Research met with subcommittee members and helped with the questionnaire and methodology for the focus groups. We have a list of volunteer facilitators, most of whom have attended a facilitator training session, to help insure that the groups are conducted with consistency of approach. For facilitators who could not attend, subcommittee members will meet with them to share the information from the training.

Outstanding Issues: (1) Capturing the information. The subcommittee has struggled with the issue of how to capture the information from the focus groups. Initially the decision was to follow the practice from the SAGE report and have the sessions taped, with note-takers also present. But that is not a feasible alternative for us, given the number of groups and logistics involved in that methodology. The idea of using court reporters was raised, and many were afraid that would chill participants from speaking up. But after considerable discussion, the subcommittee decided that using court reporters was, in fact, the best way to insure accuracy and anonymity/confidentiality of the information and speed in obtaining the transciprts. The fact is that court reporters frequently report sessions, be they depositions, trials, etc., and once the transcript is done, they move on to their next deposition or other session to report. They quickly forget whatever occurs in the focus groups, as they spend all their time reporting. However, some groups still feel that court reporters in the focus group room could chill the participation, and in fact could make it hard to recruit people to participate. The subcommittee does not want to loose the input of people who would bow out of the process because of discomfort with court reporters. So an alternative is being explored, where remote reporters are used, and the session is recorded, and then later transcribed by a court reporter. This is a method used regularly with unemployment compensation hearings. (2) Recruiting Volunteer Reporters. The subcommittee has begun recruiting volunteer court reporters, but we need more. Marron asked the task force members to ask court reporters with whom they work to volunteer to report a focus group. (3) Religion focus group. The subcommittee has debated the issue of how to conduct a focus group about religion. We had added a question about religion to the script/questionnaire, but now that question is removed, and the religion focus group is tabled until later. The goal is now to try to conduct a group about religion in April. Altman thanked the subcommittee for all its hard work and time commitment. She added that the religion issue is very important and that the task force should not loose sight of that, and we should all make certain to address it later.

Also, the subcommittee would like help from task force members with recruiting people at their respective organizations to participate in a focus group. An email will go out for members to use or edit as they like to use for this purpose.

3. Statistical (Employer) Survey: The subcommittee has the survey almost ready to go, in electronic format, with a separate survey for private law firms and one for non-private employers (corporate and public). Rossana Armson from the Minnesota Center for Survey Research at the U. of M. was very helpful. Dick Ericson and Holly Wu from the MSBA have figured out ways to avoid some of the glitches earlier identified as a concern. Now it is possible for the people completing the survey to work on it, save the work, and come back to it later to complete it. The person completing the survey will create a user ID and password to use when getting back to it. Ericson and Wu demonstrated how the survey works with a screen displaying the online survey. There are several areas where the instructions and questions will still be tweaked. But it should be ready soon, and the subcommittee plans to test it with one person from a private law firm and one from a non-private law firm organization, before sending out the link. The timeline will be fairly quick once it goes out, giving respondents 3 to 4 weeks to complete it. Ericson and Wu also demonstrated some of the results page templates to forecast how the results will be available once the responses are in and tabulated.

The meeting was adjourned.

The next meeting of the Diversity Steering Committee is March 8, 2006. (This date is subject to change.) The Diversity Task Force meets next on March 15.

MSBA Diversity Task Force
Meeting Summary
January 11, 2006

Members Present: L. Altman, Co-Chair; Justice P. Anderson, L. Brabbit, A. Boylan, M. Chou, P. Duran, A. Easley, B. Fields, R. Ginsburg, Justice S. Hanson, A. Johnson, A. Kaul, J. Lane, N. Peralta, G. Perez, S. Perrin, K. MacKinnon, S. McKay, R. Mark, J. Rogosheske, T. Tinkham, M. Vasaly (for M. Garvis)

Guests: Seema Shah, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice

MSBA Staff: S. Elmore, T. Groshens, N. Mischel, A. Moravetz

Introduction of Guests
Co-Chair Leslie Altman welcomed the Task Force Member and introduced Seema Shah, Executive Director of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice. Ms. Shah described the work that her organization is doing to support the efforts of its members to bring lawyers of color into the Twin Cities market.

Ms. Altman introduced Nancy Mischel, MSBA Legal Issues Director, who is the new staff liaison to the Task Force, and Sharon Elmore, Project Manager, for the Task Force.

Subcommittee Updates
1. Statistical Survey: Ann Johnson reported that the subcommittee is updating the SAGE survey to administer to public and private employers in the Twin Cities. Questions from the Washington State survey regarding race will be integrated. The committee is developing lists of employers with more than 10 lawyers. A web survey may be a possibility. Inquiries from Task Force members included whether or not outstate employers would be included in the surveys. Since validity of the data requires firms of 10 lawyers, outstate firms may not qualify. The issue of whether corporations would be surveyed was also raised. Discussion included the fact that the vast majority of corporate departments have five or fewer attorneys and that many have not addressed issues of diversity, but all agreed that the validity of the results issue was most important. Those with ten lawyers will be included in the survey. The subcommittee will circulate drafts of their questions by January 20. The next meeting of the subcommittee is Jan. 26.

2. Individual Survey: Nelson Peralta reported that the subcommittee is meeting following the Task Force Meeting to discuss mechanics of doing an electronic survey. He has contacted the minority bar associations to enlist their support in encouraging their members to participate in a survey. Corporations have been contacted for examples of similar surveys with little success. Information supplied by Justice Anderson from the Supreme Court's surveys in the racial and gender bias areas regarding methodology has been disseminated to the subcommittee members. The subcommittee will discuss today what type of data and what areas of bias will be included in their survey. The subcommittee has set Feb. 15 as the deadline for developing the survey questions.

3. Focus Group Subcommittee: Phil Duran reported that the subcommittee has scheduled weekly meetings on Thursdays at noon at Robins. A draft of the subcommittees' goals and scope of work has been developed. The subcommittee members have drafted focus group questions related to the HCBA Glass Ceiling Report Recommendations and SAGE Best Practices. By February 15 all minority bar associations will be contacted for support of the focus group work and the questions will be completed. There was some discussion of concerns that participants feel comfortable enough to be candid, and the logistics of insuring confidentiality, given the need to audio-tape and/or have a note-taker present at the groups.

Leslie Altman requested that the subcommittees provide summaries of their meetings and send them to the Steering Committee so that all of their work is integrated. She also asked that each subcommittee develop a timeline for its work.

Resources Needed
Listserves for all of the subcommittees are in place and available for use. Tim Groshens will provide support for the Individual Survey Subcommittee. Sharon Elmore, project manager, will provide support for the Focus Group Subcommittee and plans to attend their weekly meetings. Nancy Mischel will provide support to the Statistical Survey Subcommittee. Nancy and Sharon will provide support to the Steering Committee and Task Force.

Web Surveys
Dick Ericson, MSBA Web Services Director, described the resources available from the MSBA regarding web surveys. Subcommittees interested in doing web surveys should be in contact with Dick.

The meeting was adjourned.

The next meeting of the Diversity Steering Committee has been changed from February 8 to February 3. The Diversity Task Force meets next on February 15.

MSBA Diversity in the Profession Task Force
Meeting Summary
December 14, 2005

Co-Chair Mike Tracy described the work of the Steering Committee since the first meeting and presented the Project Plan and Timeline to the Task Force. Given the June deadline of presenting a Report at the MSBA Convention, the Timeline is aggressive.

The Steering Committee suggested dividing the Task Force into three subcommittees to accomplish the work: 1) Statistical Survey Subcommittee, 2) Individual Survey, and 3) Focus Group Subcommittee. Two members of the Steering Committee will be liaisons to each subcommittee. Task Force members at the meeting were invited to choose which subcommittee they wanted to participate on. Task Force members not present will be invited to join the subcommittee of their choice as well.

The remainder of the meeting time was used for Subcommittees to meet and get organized. Listserves will be set up for each subcommittee and the subcommittees were encouraged to schedule meeting times before the next Diversity Task Force Meeting on January 11, 2006.

Statistical Survey Subcommittee
This subcommittee is responsible for updating the current SAGE Employer Survey to include minorities in addition to gender. Members of this subcommittee include: Anne Johnson and Ann Kaul, Co-Chairs; Dean Allen Easely, Marlene Garvis, Rick Mark, Susan McKay, and Jacqueline Regis. Steering Committee Liaisons are Leslie Altman and Kathleen Sanberg.

Individual Survey Subcommittee
This subcommittee is responsible for designing a survey for lawyers that expands the scope of the study to include race, religion, sexual orientation and disabilities. Members of this subcommittee include: Greg Bulinski and Nelson Peralta, Co-Chairs; Justice Paul Anderson, Jessica Clay, Tim Groshens, Jeremy Lane, Danielle Shelton, and Mary Ward. Steering Committee Liaisons are Bernice Fields and Wood Foster.

Focus Group Subcommittee
This subcommittee is responsible for designing the focus group surveys and facilitating the focus group process to gather qualitative data. Members of the subcommittee include:
Phil Duran and Kathe Marron, Co-chairs; Art Boylan, Lisa Brabbitt, Marta Chou, Roy Ginsburg, Justice Sam Hanson, Dean Alex Johnson, Katherine MacKinnon, Judge Elena Ostby, Shirlene Perrin, Courtney Reid, Judy Rogosheske, George Soule, and Tom Tinkham. Steering Committee Liaisons are Mike Tracy and George Perez.

MSBA Task Force on Diversity in the Profession
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.


Members Present: L. Altman, M. Tracy, Co-chairs; A. Boylan, G. Bulinski, P. Duran, B. Fields, W. Foster, R. Ginsburg, Justice S. Hanson, A. Kaul, K. MacKinnon, K. Marron, N. Peralta, C. Reid, J. Rogosheske, K. Sanberg, M. Ward, A. Moravetz, MSBA Staff

Following introductions, Mike Tracy, Co-Chair, reviewed the charge of the Task Force and thanked MSBA President Sue Holden for her support of the initiative. Kathy Sanberg reviewed the SAGE Report and summarized its scope: (1) a survey of 38 legal employers (both private and public) which gathered statistical data regarding women in the profession, (2) development of SAGE Best Practices for law firms based on qualitative data gathered through focus groups, and (3) a SAGE Best Practices Award which was first awarded last September to Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand. Wood Foster reviewed the HCBA Glass Ceiling Report which was based on statistics and confidential testimony from lawyers. Mr. Foster suggested that Task Force Members receive notebooks containing these reports and other resources for their work on this Task Force.

The Steering Committee reported that its discussions have focused on the scope of this study as including race, disabilities, sexual orientation, and religion as well as gender. The Steering Committee recognizes the need for both quantitative and qualitative data and has discussed four approaches to gathering this data: 1) employer surveys, 2) random member surveys, 3) target member surveys, and 4) anecdotal information. The Steering Committee has had discussions with Rossana Armson at the Minnesota Center for Survey Research (who conducted the SAGE survey). A proposal has been received from Ms. Armson giving some information as to costs for various methodologies. The Committee recognizes that employers are asked to respond to many surveys and there is a need to coordinate as much as possible with other organizations that are requesting data. In addition, the Committee recognizes the need for collaboration with minority bar associations. Nelson Peralta representing the Hispanic Bar Association and Phil Duran as co-chair of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association offered support and collaboration in getting their members to participate.

Reactions from the Task Force members included a request to keep gender and race issues separate in the study. Also, the Task Force members recognized the urgency of getting the work started with the deadline of June for submitting its Report and Recommendations to the MSBA Assembly. It was agreed that the Task Force would meet monthly and a meeting was scheduled for December 14 at noon at the MSBA offices. It was also agreed that in addition to the Steering Committee, the Task Force may be divided into three subcommittees to work with the quantitative data collection, qualitative data collection, and data collection through individual interviews or focus groups. The HCBA Glass Ceiling Report and SAGE Report will be distributed to the Task Force members.

Co-chair Mike Tracy thanked the members for coming to the first meeting of the Task Force and adjourned the meeting.