A Continuing Pursuit of Justice
NCAJ has long been active in the fight to make laws fair for all people and to rid our justice system of systemic bias. Our work with the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (NCCRED), NCAJ’s Task Force on Mass Incarceration and the creation of NCAJ’s Hispanic/Latino Division and the NCAJ Women’s Caucus are a few examples of our commitment to this cause.
In 2017, NCAJ president Bill Powers established the President’s Diversity Task Force. The group aimed to bring an intentional focus on issues of diversity, inclusion and equity to the inner workings of NCAJ. It continues its work today as the standing Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Among the group’s accomplishments:
- Addition of a diversity officer, now diversity & inclusion vice president, to the NCAJ Executive Committee
- Creation and adoption of a diversity statement, affirming that “NCAJ is resolute in its dedication to liberty and justice for all, and to a diverse and inclusive community that extends those rights to — and recognizes the humanity of — everyone.”
- Adoption a diversity plan for NCAJ in 2017
- Presentation of the annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference each fall beginning in 2019
- Creation of the Speaker Diversity Program including the Speaker Diversity Database, a resource for NCAJ CLE programmers
- Co-sponsoring of the N.C. Lawyers Assistance Program Minority Outreach Conference in 2019
- Winning a 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Award from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly in recognition of NCAJ’s work to change the culture and advance diversity and inclusion within the legal profession
- Launch of the Diversity & Inclusion Book Club with a discussion of “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein in April 2021
While achieving these milestones, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee has consistently sought to spread throughout NCAJ an awareness of systemic bias and to provide ways for members and leaders to address and change the culture of the organization. Coordinating editors of our quarterly “Trial Briefs” magazine have focused on topics such as the #MeToo Movement and how LGBTQ Rights and Immigrant Rights affect various practice areas. A monthly series of free member webinars, begun in 2020 by the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, explores a wide variety of topics including immigration issues, disability rights, educator sexual misconduct, addressing racial inequality in civil and criminal matters, cultural change in the justice system, recognizing mental illness and work-life balance.
NCAJ’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee realizes that the struggle for fairness and equity continues, and the group will continue its work in myriad ways by paying vigilant attention to matters of diversity, inclusion and equity in everything NCAJ does.
3rd Annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference
This year’s conference will highlight the good works and efforts of the NCAJ Diversity & Inclusion Committee, along with presentations by local and nationally renowned speakers on topics related to the important issue of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.