CLI in the News/Media

  • 10/07/2019 11:10 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    We are so pleased to announce Phyllis Wan has been named as the Interim Executive Director of CLI.

    Phyllis has a long relationship with the Denver legal community and is well respected for her knowledge and expertise in the diversity and inclusion field. She has also served as the Chief Diversity Officer for Hogan Lovells US LLP, one of the world’s largest law firms, with more than 1000 U.S. lawyers.

    Phyllis developed a range of diversity and inclusion programs, including strategic plans that led to increased recruiting and retention of female, ethnically diverse, and LGTBQ attorneys and staff. Phyllis is a civic leader who has been a member of the Board of Directors of the T. Howard Foundation, the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, and the Colorado Lawyers Committee.

    Phyllis brings experience not just in diversity and inclusion, but has successfully practiced law in variety of settings. She is a graduate of the New York University School of Law.

    We selected Phyllis after the Executive Committee interviewed several very well-qualified candidates, all of whom were diverse and experienced as leaders in diversity and inclusion. The committee members came to the conclusion that Phyllis has the right mix of relationships in the Denver community, deep experience in working with legal employers on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and an ability to think creatively about how to move CLI into the future.

    Patrick O'Rourke, Chair of the CLI Board, and Ryann Peyton, Chair Elect, added, "We’re going to be working hard to make CLI an organization that makes the Colorado legal community stronger and that provides its members with robust programming and support. Retaining Phyllis is a major step forward in that direction."  

    About CLI -- The Center for Legal Inclusiveness is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance diversity in the legal profession by actively educating and supporting private and public sector legal organizations in their own individual campaigns to create cultures of inclusion.

    CLI announce P. Wan 10.7.19.pdf

  • 10/03/2019 1:58 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)


    Each year, Center for Legal Inclusiveness honors our community's work in advancing diversity and inclusiveness at our Ball for All Gala on February 29, 2020. Help us to recognize those organizations and individuals who are working to make Colorado more inclusive.

    Visit our online application to submit a nomination. We are accepting nominations of those who honor and embrace diversity and inclusion. The five categories are: Business/Corporate, Individual, Law Firm/Legal Department, Young Professional, and Nonprofit/Government/Community Organization.

    Deadline for submissions is November 15, 2020. The online application includes a brief essay (no more than 500 words). Self-nominations are also accepted.


    Questions? Email:

    Nominate or apply for the Inclusiveness@Work Award today!

  • 09/05/2019 8:27 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Dear Friends of The Center For Legal Inclusiveness,

    We are sad to announce that Karen Hester is leaving Center For Legal Inclusiveness (CLI) on September 6th after serving our community for the past 6 years. 

    While we will miss Karen’s leadership, we are happy for her because she is leaving to pursue a new opportunity with Lockheed Martin.

    The Board of Directors applauds all that Karen has brought to the organization and the vast accomplishments she leaves behind. We, along with CLI’s COO Abe Kaul, are committed to a seamless transition plan that will include a diligent search for her successor. The Board will select an interim executive director during this transition period.

    As leaders of the Board, we know that transitions can be difficult but we are committed to making sure CLI continues to meet the ever-evolving needs of the community and our mission of creating a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.


    Patrick O’Rourke
    Board Chair

    J. Ryann Peyton
    Board Chair-Elect

  • 08/21/2019 10:12 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Implicit bias and Implicit bias training have become a trending topic with many firms. Moreover, it is not just law firms that are getting serious about this type of exercise – large corporations, police departments, and schools are seeing the value in this brand of training for their staff. However, what is "implicit bias" and what can we do about it?

    What is it?

    Implicit bias is most often considered an unconscious predisposition towards a stereotypical opinion. In the simplest of terms, it means one believes a stereotype is true because one has heard or seen it so much. We receive so many biased messages daily - in the media, from friends or family – that we often accept them as fact without question. Your brain – while taking in all these messages – will make a ''shortcut' to be able to process this information, primarily, putting people into categories. And yes, some of these categories are not favorable.

    Imagine that all of your life, you’ve heard messages that left-handed people are disorganized. You had a left-handed classmate in school who had messy handwriting, and a teacher called them out on it. Maybe you have seen a movie or TV show, and the bungling character just happened to be left-handed. Also, also perhaps a friend or family member chimes in about their feelings about left-handed people. Over time, these messages you receive start to become your perception of left-handed people. Now, imagine that you are interviewing a job applicant that is left-handed. Your implicit bias would make you less open-minded to learning about them as a person because this prejudice has clouded your judgment long before you even met this person.

    How do you minimize the impact implicit bias has on your decision-making?

    Now that we know what implicit bias is, how can we conquer it? While it is not a hard task, it does need consistent attention. We need to stay aware of the message we are taking in. It's easy to use a stereotype to categorize a person we don't know, and that is where the problem lies. We should be taking the time to get to know the person and appreciating their unique experience. Further, we should be countering these statements when we hear them.

    I’m sure we’ve all heard the lament “millennials are lazy." Not only is it not true, but it's also an excellent example of how implicit bias can alter perception. "Millennials" are people from all cultures and background that were born around the same time. Each person in this group has had different experiences shape the way they think and act. They may work differently, but to label all of a specific age group as “lazy” is, well, lazy.

    While much more specific training surrounding implicit bias is so essential to all culture, genders, and age groups, becoming aware of and acknowledging your bias is a great beginning.

    Once you recognize implicit bias, be aware of how these messages and stereotypes could impact your judgment – even in a way that you think is positive. Also, if you believe that your implicit bias is not grounded in a negative stereotype, then work to ensure your judgment does not swing the other way and give preference to those because of a positive stereotype.

    Center for Legal Inclusiveness offers training on many topics, including implicit bias. Please contact us ( or 303.313.6860) to schedule a training.

  • 08/15/2019 4:23 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    CEO, Karen Hester, talked with Dot Org this week about our mission and our programs. 

    KGNU's Dot Org program highlights local non-profits and the work they do to enrich our community.  

    If you missed it, please use this link to hear more. 

    KGNU Dot Org

    If you want to know more about membership and how you can become more involved with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, please click here.

    Our Membership includes training, consultation, access to educational and networking events, free job postings, our manual and much more!

  • 07/17/2019 10:33 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    A successful diverse lawyer was, at one time, a successful law student and law school graduate. But recruiting and retaining diverse attorneys has not led to successful outcomes. So how do we ensure that diverse attorneys are placed where they can be successful? Legal employers are becoming more adept at fulfilling the needs of a different new generation of students-cum-associates, but there is always room for learning more. We have two sessions designed to address the unique needs of hiring and training attorneys. Where once these lessons a "wouldn't it be nice," it is now a must-have across the board.

    Zack DeMeola will present "Foundations for Practice Project" based on what essential competencies lawyers, firms and judges are looking for in new lawyers. And how can employers best assist and make sure they can "hit the ground running."

    In 2015, The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) began its "Foundations for Practice" project. They surveyed more than 24,000 lawyers across the country to identify the characteristics, competencies, and skills that new lawyers need right out of law school. Since publishing the results of the survey, IAALS has been using those results this past year to work with law schools and over 30 employers selected by these schools to develop a set of learning outcomes, assessments, instructional designs, and hiring tools to instill and identify desired characteristics, competencies, and skills in future lawyers.

    The culmination of all this work is a Foundations-based Learning Outcomes Model. A set of Foundations-based hiring tools, and recommendations for how educators and employers can effectively use them for more objective and reliable assessment of student performance and hiring criteria. A Foundations-based hiring process that is intentional, explicit, and consistent, more aptly aligns the needs of the employer with the abilities of a candidate. This requires employers to clearly define the capabilities they seek in new hires and tie those abilities to their hiring criteria. This results in more compatible matches between new hires and employers and has more potential to reduce the influence of bias in hiring than relying on traditional approaches alone.

    At the end of this program, participants will:

    · Be familiar with Foundations for Practice research on what new lawyers need for success;

    · Understand how Foundations for Practice research can be used as the basis for designing learning outcomes and hiring tools;

    · Understand how to take advantage of and apply the results from the Foundations for Practice study as another tool to improve or supplement legal education and career development, including the use of objective criteria to reduce the influence of bias in hiring

    Once a diverse new lawyer is hired, the process is not over - likely it is just the beginning. Employers and lawyers need to work together to find the best methods for coaching, giving and hearing feedback, mentoring, and growing. Eli Wald's session "Coaching the Diverse New Attorney: How to Succeed and Advance in Your Law Office" addresses this topic with timely and realistic information.

    Legal employers are hiring new attorneys who may have priorities and needs that may differ from hires in the past. Understanding and addressing those needs and priorities are critical in the recruitment and retention of that talent.

    At the end of this session, participants will:

    · Determine how to get honest and helpful feedback and assessment of their work.

    · Understand how to find and cultivate advocate mentors in their office.

    · Identify ways to make themselves invaluable.

    · Learn how to ask their supervisors for top assignments.

    · Understand implicit biases, its impact on their professional development, and how to navigate it.

    · Determine how to assess their standing in their office accurately.

    · Allies will learn tips on coaching new diverse attorneys in private firms, public law offices, corporate legal departments, and other law-related work situations.

    With our Summit, just days away don't miss your chance to engage on these essential topics.

  • 07/08/2019 1:09 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Our diversity and inclusion conversation continues with two speakers who will cover self-assessment and self-promotion within the legal profession. As we talk about these programs and ideas, we must be able to assess our achievement and be able to feel comfortable effectively promoting our accomplishments.

    Jonathan White, professional Development Counsel at the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, will present "Proactive Lawyer Self-Assessments: Promoting Professionalism, Inclusivity, and Access to Justice.” Mr. White’s talk will describe a self-assessment tool created by Colorado lawyers and non-lawyer professionals who volunteered their time to help other lawyers succeed in practice. Those volunteers provided practice suggestions and guidance through a series of voluntary, confidential self-assessments.

    These assessments encourage lawyers to think about how to serve clients better, meet ethics obligations, and respond to changes in the legal marketplace. The topics evaluated included are access to justice and promoting greater inclusivity in the profession. The evaluation also encourages lawyers to think proactively about how to expand access to justice by making small changes in their practice, or how to bring about greater inclusivity by thinking about how diversity in a law firm can benefit the bottom line. Then this becomes a model for addressing two paramount concerns facing the legal profession: the fact that many Americans do not have the means to afford legal services and that the profession’s diversity does not reflect that of the nation.  Many lawyers have heard of these issues. Many are concerned about these gaps. But how can the profession translate these concerns into action? The self-assessment model is one important answer. Questions coupled with educational resources that are solution-oriented can transform a practice and the legal culture more broadly.

    At the end of this session, participants will:

    • ·           Gain an increased understanding of voluntary, confidential proactive practice review programs and their benefit to lawyers and their clients.
    • ·           Become more familiar with the publicly-available resources that discuss lawyer ethics as well as concepts ranging from lawyer well-being to inclusivity.
    • ·           Learn how to create such programs and, in tandem, market them to lawyers.

    Another key for inclusiveness in the legal profession is the ability for lawyers to feel comfortable touting their achievement in the field as well as their accomplishments in diversity and inclusion programs. 

    Tiffani Lee, Holland & Knights Diversity Partner will speak on “Mastering the Art of Self-Promotion: Effective (but Tactful) Ways to Toot Your Own Horn and Accelerate Career Progress” Women attorneys and attorneys of color often express feeling uncomfortable touting their achievements and advocating for themselves.

    Experts and law firm leaders know, however, that self-advocacy is a critical tool for career advancement, including accessing networks, getting stretch opportunities, and making an attorney's accomplishments (or potential) visible. Ms. Lee will share the research, her observations, and practical tips for how women attorneys and attorneys of color can strategically (but tactfully) promote themselves in the workplace to accelerate their career progress.

    At the end of this session, participants will

    • ·           Understand the importance of self-advocacy to career development.
    • ·           Become aware of some of the barriers to self-advocacy and unique challenges faced by women attorneys and attorneys of color.
    • ·           Develop practical and diplomatic strategies for self-advocacy that can be used individually or shared with others (ex. in associate mentoring and coaching roles).

    Our robust program at this year’s Summit is full of captivating speakers, cutting edge ideas and thought-provoking conversations.  We hope you will join us on July 29th

  • 06/24/2019 2:56 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Let’s tackle a diversity topic that might not be top of mind for everyone: generational inclusiveness.  Have you thought about how you relate to older and younger employees? How do you deal with these differences?  How does the younger generation relate to a more former team member with different experience and perspective?

    Generational Inclusiveness expert Tonia Morris will be presenting ”How to Manage and Develop A Generational Inclusive Workforce" with many ideas and solutions to this unique topic.

    For the first time in history, we have five generations in the workforce. This has been a challenge for many organizations. Many organizations face challenges with recruiting, retaining, developing, and managing generation expectations. As the workforce evolves with multiple generations, a significant factor affects the workforce - Leadership! Leadership looks different. In the past, leadership development was having employees put in their time, and haphazardly develop these skills on their own. However, now, many organizations are developing leaders at every level, consciously, deliberately. How we lead and manage will also be different.  Many organizations are going to lead via technology instead of in person. We are more global now than ever before. According to SHRM, by 2020, the workforce will look different, meaning the employee/employer relationship will be different. We will have more contractors working in the workplace who also contribute to the GIG economy. The question is, are you READY for the new workforce?

    Let Go of your Unconscious Bias

    Whether or not you realize it, you could be inflicting your unconscious bias on your co-workers.  We take in so many messages all day long; there is undoubtedly an ageist message that you have picked up. You have to let go of these messages and treat each co-worker as a person, not an age. 


    Once you have cleared your mind of stereotypes and misconceptions, you need to be able to relate to a person, not just an age group. More seasoned employees notoriously have more profound soft skills (like relationship building and being 'team players'), so it should be a no-brainer to relate to a younger employee, right? Adapt these skills that you likely use on clients to your team member, and you will see these results mirrored in them. Yes, a newer employee may have different ideas and methods, but together, this team could move further if they can adapt to each other. Be flexible, and you'll find success much more easily

    Embrace Technology

    How we work has changed over time.  If you remember carbon paper and typewriters, then you must also not forget how you moved with technology, and it eventually made a positive impact. Don’t stop now.  It would be best if you continued to embrace technology as it continues to change the workplace.  As younger workers will likely have a better grasp on technology, you use this to educate others on your team, too.

    Keep an Open Mind

    If you can embrace technology, you can surely embrace keeping an open mind in other areas.  Younger generations have different ideas and perspective, and this can make a real impact on the rest of the team. Don't be afraid of new ideas. Real, impactful change, and innovation comes when we are brave enough to step out of what is comfortable and be open to new ways of thinking. 

    At the end of this session, participants will:

    • Understand the impact of a multi-generation workforce.
    • Learn the importance of understanding a multi-generation workforce.
    • Become aware of the work expectations of a multi-generations.
    • Be able to lead a multi-generation workforce.
    • Obtain leadership skills needed to attract, retain, develop, and manage a multi-generation.
    • Gain a different perspective and understanding of each generation, the commonality of each generation.
    • Appreciate how everyone has a responsibility to create a generationally inclusive workplace.
  • 06/13/2019 12:32 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Diversity Fatigue Sucks: Best Practices for Sustaining Fresh & Relevant Inclusion Programs

    We’re talking about the stuff diversity pros experience but don’t want to admit. The dreaded fatigue that happens when progress is slow and support is non-existent in D&I initiatives. What sucks is the big WHY? Why does this happen and why is it the #1 reason firms fail in their efforts. I'll give points on why folks fizz out and then I'll give points on how to overcome this dreaded but inevitable diversity fatigue. Here's a few of my topics. It will be hilarious and cathartic.

    1. Toe The Line

    2. Dog & Pony Show

    3. The Walking Dead

  • 06/10/2019 11:37 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    We talk a lot about diversity and inclusiveness as it is an important topic, but it can become overwhelming. Don't give up; we can help.  In addition to covering cutting edge topics, we also are offering practical advice on D/I issues that you can put to use in real circumstances.


    This has to be the start of any program that is built to last.  Are you communicating to your organization on the importance of D/I, identifying your goals, and determining your resources? Without sharing a clear vision and continuing to communicate openly, you may face some challenges.

    Keep it positive

    Any program that focuses on the problems, not the solution is bound to fail.  Turn your perspective to find the good and sharing those messages.  You may find that your organization and your team are more open to lasting change if everything is presented in a positive light.


    When and if your policy experiences fatigue, you’ll need some reliable solutions to WAKE IT UP.  Dionne King’s vast experience across many industries makes a for an engaging presentation to rejuvenate your practices to re-engage and re-energize your policies. Don’t be fooled; it CAN happen.  The best thought-out and planned policies CAN become tired if not reinvigorated with new ideas.

    Make it sustainable

    It can be all sizzle and no steak.  Put some real substance in your policy. Erica Edwards-O'Neal's presentation "Baked-In Inclusion" will offer solid ideas to makes sure you can sustain D/I policies and practices and not just provide lip service. It is crucial that you have a plan to keep your ideas and strategies alive months and years down the road.

    Keep it relevant

    You might want to think about how you can make your D/I plan/policy pertinent to everyone in your organization.  Diversity in the workplace fosters innovation, healthy competition, emotional intelligence, and so much more. Get everyone on board by finding out what matters and relating that to the importance of diversity.

    It is worth noting that both of these presentations are not only relevant to those in the legal profession but to just about any HR team that is seeking to make diversity and inclusion part of their organization's structure.  Our Summit is a worthwhile investment for so many organizations across the country.  To learn more and to register your team for our Summit, please visit our website


Contact Us
Center for Legal Inclusiveness
1776 N Lincoln Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80203-1028

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