Bonnie Mayfield

Bonnie Mayfield

Diversity and inclusion are a part of the fabric of the IADC, from its organizational structure to staffing, procedure and process, membership and committee work, and the oh-so-palpable social and family interconnections that make our organization unique among all bar associations. Diversity and inclusion, like the Rule of Law, deepens and helps provide an enriched practice of law and IADC experience and membership.

For me, given my Quebec City experience, nowhere, at that moment, was an aspect of the IADC’s interlacing of diversity and inclusion and the Rule of Law more evident than in the purpose, process, and procedure of the Nominating Committee before whom all IADC members had the opportunity to appear (e.g., in person, by telephone, letter, email, etc.) and voice their thoughts through fearless, passionate, honest, and civil discourse with a diverse, inclusive, and easily accessible Committee guided by fairness, impartiality, and publicized election and bylaw information. I felt an interconnectedness, a sense of "Mitakuye Oyasin" (Lakota meaning "We are all related"), throughout the entire Annual Meeting and the work of the Nominating Committee.

Through the Diversity Committee’s work this year, we hope to expand on and show how diversity and inclusion and the pursuit and enhancement of the Rule of Law connect us, both professionally and personally, through the IADC and beyond.

This year, the Diversity Committee’s work includes continuing our Quote Initiative. As we hope you have noticed, the banner page of the IADC website displays quotes under the title: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion! The quotes help promote thinking and discussion about the benefits of diversity and inclusion. Since starting the Quote Initiative about two years ago, we have shared twenty-four quotes. Please feel free to send us quotes that are in the public domain, published before 1923, and embrace diversity and inclusion. You can direct your suggestions to Diversity Committee member Jaion Chung, who is enthusiastically collecting quotes.

We have created a Webinar series through which we will interview leading individuals in the legal and other arenas. The conversational, web-based interviews will explore diversity and inclusion, and, of course, any other matters that the interviewees want to discuss. We hope that you will join us for our first Webinar, scheduled for October 25th, as the IADC’s own Connie Lewis Lensing will be interviewed by Diversity Committee member Pam Carter. As we are identifying additional interviewees for future Webinars, reach out to us and share your suggestions.

Establishing and identifying Diversity Committee Liaisons to other IADC committees is a key goal. Our most recent volunteer, Audrey Ramsay, has agreed to be the Diversity Committee Liaison for the Appellate Practice Committee and the CLE Committee. If you are a member of another Committee as well as the Diversity Committee, please consider being a Diversity Committee Liaison. If you are not a Diversity Committee member, join us and become a Liaison! We want to help each Committee be successful with diversity and inclusion, especially with the identification and selection of issues and panelists, the nomination of potential members, and the retention of current members.

Through action, programming, and discussion, we can join with other IADC Committees and explore the intersections of the Rule of Law and diversity and inclusion and educate about substantive areas. For example, in the intellectual property sphere, the Supreme Court's decision striking down the federal government's ban on offensive trademark registrations in a case involving a rock band can be the subject of vigorous discussion from a variety of viewpoints. Similarly, the California Supreme Court's decision in The People v. Gutierrez raises important trial and tactics questions about jury selection and the use of peremptory challenges; as Justice Goodwin Liu noted, Gutierrez “is the first time in 16 years, and the second time in 25 years, that this court has found a Batson/Wheeler violation.” The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, the “Top Chef” trial in (in part, involving comments made by picketers), and the Eighth Circuit’s recent ruling in the Cooper Tire & Rubber case (involving the discharge of an employee who made certain statements from a picket line) provide the foundation for discussing diversity and inclusion, the Rule of Law, and labor and employment issues. Via the pursuit of civil justice and open forums, we can explore the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, and how to help empower the vulnerable, including human trafficking and other crime victims in need of equality and civil justice.

Underway is the Diversity Committee’s examination of whether to make a recommendation to the Board that the name of the Diversity Committee change to Diversity and Inclusion. As consultant Vernā Myers has often stated: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” We want all of our IADC members to have opportunities “to dance,” both inside and outside of the IADC and an enhanced name of the Committee might be more reflective of our inclusive nature and goal.

Also in progress is the Diversity Committee’s consideration of a special project. One project idea that is on the table is determining whether to recommend to the Board that the IADC establish a diversity and inclusion award. We need your help with this project as there is a lot to be done, including identifying the name of the award and/or the person after whom the award will be named as well as all of the associated mechanics like criteria for the award and timing of when the award will be given.

The 2018 Midyear meeting is around the corner. During that meeting, the Diversity Committee is sponsoring a Major CLE concerning ageism and sexism in the court and featuring Consultant Kathleen Nalty, IADC Member Tammy Meyer, and Indianapolis Judge Gary Miller (Marion Superior Court). The Diversity Committee’s internal meeting will be a breakout session, conducted by Nalty, and dealing with unconscious bias. During that breakout session, attendees will learn how to effectively and systemically overcome unconscious bias as unconscious bias and its stepsister, Microinquities, can create countless, potential barriers to the success of individuals, institutions, and systems.

We are developing internal Diversity Committee programming for the 2018 Annual meeting in Lisbon. Because the November 10, 2017 deadline for submission to the CLE Committee for an Internal Committee Program Proposal is swiftly approaching, please share your ideas and suggestions. Henry Wehrmann, our new Vice Chair of Diversity Programming, and Lisbon Member Manuel Barrocas, and I are trading ideas and welcome the participation of all and want your input.

We will bring to the attention of IADC members interesting information that promotes dialectical discussion about diversity and inclusion and the Rule of Law. Diversity of thought, not only on our IADC panels and in our presentations, but also in our workplaces and lives, is important and critical to forward movement. For example, did you know that there is a new museum in Paris that explores the science of racism? (click here) Have you seen the Heineken beer commercial suggesting that we are more alike than different? (click here) Are you aware of the World Justice Project, and its work to advance and enhance the Rule of Law? (click here) Have you had a chance to watch any of the video clips located at the World Justice Project website? The clips feature various leaders in the diversity and inclusion space, including Justice Ginsburg.

While we may disagree about any and/or all information, awareness is key to civil discourse and forward movement. As Mark Twain noted: “It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse-races.” Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, 19 (Bartlett's Familiar Quotations).

By its very nature, the Diversity Committee is open and inclusive. Always be aware that you are invited to join us during our conference calls to be held on the last Friday of every month at 11:00 a.m. (Central). 

In sum, we aim to be of service to the IADC and its members. It is our service that will be the beacon of our success. As George Washington Carver stated: “It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success.”

I am pleased to be of service to the IADC and our IADC members as we advance diversity and inclusion and enhance and strengthen the pursuit of the Rule of Law. As Bonnie “Yoda” Mayfield might say: But a phone call or email away, am I.

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