Wisconsin Bar is Leading on Diversity and Inclusion

Milwaukee attorney Eric Andrews says "run to the roar."

A unicorn is practicing law in Milwaukee, and he is becoming a leader in the Wisconsin bar on issues of diversity and inclusion.

Eric C. Andrews is a senior associate and litigator at MHW Law LLP, where he practices in the defense of claims relating to civil rights, premises liability, personal injury, and municipal law. In 2017 he attended a law conference in Chicago, where at a session titled, “Diversity in Demand: What Buyers Want,” a panelist told him, “You are like a unicorn.”

But exactly what did she mean?

“In her experience, African American litigators were always heard about, but never seen,” writes Andrews in this post for the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Litigation Section Blog. “As society continues to transform, it is unquestionably important for the legal profession to be diverse and inclusive, to adequately represent and serve the many communities that form our society. Despite this, increasing diversity in the legal profession, especially in the upper ranks, has progressed slowly. Nowhere is this need more important than in the litigation sphere. Diverse lawyers are woefully underrepresented in plaintiff personal injury law firms and insurance defense law firms.”

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4 Key Takeaways from the Article

  1. The importance of planning. “Currently, I serve as the chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC). The SPC is charged with, among other things, creating goals for the State Bar of Wisconsin …. One of those goals is improvement of diversity and inclusion in the Wisconsin legal profession. Some of those initiatives include the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee, the Diversity Clerkship Program and the recently created Racial Justice Task Force.”
  2. Creating incentives to embrace diversity. “In addition to the State Bar’s initiatives, the SPC is considering a template created by an organization named the Greater Cincinnati Minority Counsel Program (GCMCP). GCMCP’s purpose is to increase the volume, value, and significance of corporate legal work managed, billed, and performed by minority attorneys by implementing a partnership among corporations, majority-owned law firms, minority-owned law firms, public sector, and charitable and educational organizations. The SPC is currently considering implementing a similar program through the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee. For more information about the program, click here.”
  3. On running to the roar. “In 2018, I had the privilege of introducing former State Bar of Missouri President Dana Tippin Cutler as a guest speaker at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Conference at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva. Cutler started her speech by revisiting the idea of facing one’s fears repeatedly. She used an old African proverb in her speech to exemplify why the legal profession cannot run from the unknown or whatever else they may fear. The proverb comes from the savannah, where lions wait in tall grasses while herds move across the plain. While on the hunt, a pride will often send its weakest male member away from the others. In this case, his roar is bigger than his bite. At the sound of the single lion’s roar, the herd rushes right into the waiting lionesses. If the herd had run toward the roar, they would have escaped their ill fate. The proverb says you should run to the roar – that is, where you fear to go – and there you will find safety and a way through the danger.”
  4. The moral of the story. “Attorneys need to ground themselves in the changing legal landscape by running toward their fears – whether that be to innovation, to a changing and diverse workplace, or to supporting clients in new ways. I encourage Wisconsin lawyers to run to the roar.”

Source: State Bar of Wisconsin, Litigation Section Blog

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