CLI in the News/Media

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  • 05/14/2019 6:13 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    The landscape for LGBTQ lawyers is changing every day.  As of 2016, an estimated 1.4 million adults in the US identified as transgender.  The gender binary is being replaced by the gender spectrum, and 35% of trans* individuals identify as gender diverse, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.

    For legal employers, it is no longer a matter of IF they will have transgender or gender diverse employees, but preparing for WHEN they have trans* employees. Despite strides toward inclusion, 27% of transgender people who held or applied for a job in the last year reported being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion due to their gender identity, only 33% of non-binary/gender non-conforming individuals report being out at work, and 45% of trans* individuals have experienced negative incidents at work on a monthly, or even more frequent basis. Given these figures, it's more important than ever that legal employers ensure an inclusive, welcoming environment that is respectful of all gender identities and expressions.

    Making space for trans* and gender diverse lawyers, staff, and clients in legal organizations can be tricky. Much of the work requires reframing conversations about gender, retraining the brain around language, and implementing policies and procedures to limit the influence of gender norms and biases. Every organizational leader should understand the basic concepts of gender identity and gender expression, including how these concepts differ from sexual orientation. They must display gender-inclusive language and model appropriate pronoun usage. Finally, they must understand the state of the law in Colorado and federally to create policies regarding facilities, harassment, dress codes, and the like which accurately reflect the rights of trans* employees and clients. 

    Is your organizational leadership prepared to do this important work?

    “Transgender at Work” will provide you with the tools and resources your organization needs to develop greater empathy and awareness of trans* and non-binary identities to create spaces of belonging in your organization. 

    Gender Transition Plans & Policies can be overwhelming. We’ll break them down into practical parts so your organization can adapt and implement a plan for the probable moment when a trans* employee announces they will be transitioning gender at work.

    Even if you are well-versed in trans* 101, developing your power an ally to trans* and gender diverse colleagues is imperative to creating inclusive legal organizations. We will provide important knowledge and resources so that you can interact with your coworkers, colleagues, clients, and friends who may identify as trans* in a respectful and supportive manner. Allies are always learning how to put their responsiveness into action. We’ll give you the tools you need to be a better ally and recruit those around you to be allies too!

    Join us to:

    • Learn more about trans* and non-binary issues
    • Champion inclusion and diversity throughout your organization
    • Challenge thinking and actions, systems and processes
    • Be a visible and active ally
    Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum, other than cisgender man and cisgender woman. The asterisk denotes an effort to also include all non-binary, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming identities, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, and bigender.

    More about this speaker:

    Ryann Peyton serves as the Director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP), a program of the Colorado Supreme Court. A former litigator and a seasoned consultant and advocate on professionalism, diversity, and equity in the legal field, Ryann is a frequent commentator, presenter, and lecturer having contributed to the Denver Post, Law Week Colorado, Denver Business Journal, KDVR Fox 31, Rocky Mountain PBS, and Colorado Public Radio. Prior to joining CAMP, Ryann focused her law practice on civil litigation with an emphasis on LGBT families and civil rights.

  • 05/06/2019 12:24 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    We are so thrilled to be welcoming Ronetta J Francis to our Summit this Summer. Her message “Bloom Where You're Planted,” inspired such a feeling of positivity and hope we couldn’t wait to get her on board. In anticipation of her keynote presentation, we are examining ways to keep yourself positive at work and beyond.

    Start with You

    Positive thoughts generate positive speech and positive actions, that is a fact. But thinking positively is not always as easy as it sounds. You need to make a conscious effort to see the good. For some, the default is finding a way to say no. Instead, find a way to say yes. The energy around positive people is second to none. Strive to be that positive person in your office and in your home; You will be surprised at how contagious it is.

    Keep Learning

    Feeling frustration at work can often come from a lack of knowledge. Are you staying current with the trends in your industry? Are you looking for ways to think outside of the box and ahead of the curve? In this day and age of technological advancements occurring almost daily, access to information is literally at your fingertips. So, if you come across subject matter or trend with which you are not familiar or well versed – don’t beat yourself up about it; take it in stride and take the initiative to educate yourself. Learning something new can be energizing and powerful. Want to take it even further? Share what you know with others. Teaching is a positive way to connect, too.

    Build Relationships

    Surround yourself with positive people. The secret to sustained success is that we are not intended to do it all on our own. Take the time to build strong and positive relationships at work; the goodwill that you create by lending a listening ear and supporting and cheering on your colleagues will be returned to you many times over. Knowing that you have an ally can keep you motivated when you need it.

    Take Five

    There will be times when it seems like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But those setback moments are also moments of growth. Take advantage of those moments to maximize your development. Before diving in to tackle the challenges at hand, take a break to refresh and refocus – step away from your desk or work space for a quick walk or a drink of water. Frankly, you might be amazed at what a few minutes of simple deep breathing can do for a seemingly impossible situation. Once refreshed, get back to it.

    About this speaker:

    Ronetta is a passionate public speaker, who believes in the power of positivity. In her coaching and training practice, she uses her dynamic “Bloom Where You’re Planted” Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program™, to support and empower leaders to challenge the status quo, embrace their talents and refine their executive presence. Her program is founded on the principle that when women own their brilliance and lead with authenticity, they flourish. She has a genuine heart for serving others and giving back to her community; she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and The Links, Incorporated, and provides support to the Samaritan Center and the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter, as well as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Alzheimer’s Association. To learn more about this speaker click here.

  • 04/24/2019 2:56 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    The Retention Committee unveiled a new series, Champions’ Roundtable.  At the Roundtable, attorneys who champion diversity in their organization will discuss D/I issues, and create solutions and action plans for these issues.

    The first in this series was “Beyond the Numbers,” a program facilitated by Naomi Baez Amos, assistant general counsel with Molson Coors Brewing Company and Maritza Dominguez Braswell, deputy attorney general with Colorado Attorney General's Office.  Beyond the Numbers was held at Ballard Spahr’s Denver office on Wednesday, April 17th. 

    With the 17 attending in-house counsel and law firm attorneys, the two led discussions on belonging, empowerment and combatting biases.   A practical takeaway shared was the “Diversity College.”   One firm’s client volunteered to tutor young diverse attorneys on issues related to their industry, to increase their knowledge and interest (and ultimately their book of business).  This innovative program will help address the concern of not having enough diverse attorneys who have the knowledge to work for clients in a particular industry.

    Baez Amos and Dominguez Braswell will follow up with a second program, where they will discuss the ABA Model Diversity Survey and explore ways to provide additional data, narratives and context.  If you are a Diversity Champion and would like to receive information about upcoming programming, please contact Abe Kaul (303.313.6860;

    Karen H Hester, JD, LLM in Taxation
    Chief Executive Officer
    Center for Legal Inclusiveness

  • 04/24/2019 2:48 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Client teams: an innovative approach to reducing unconscious bias and differentiating through difference, by Kelly M. Brown

    Client teams can serve as an innovative approach for bringing together a broad mix of people across a firm in ways that reduce unconscious bias and leverage diversity as part of a business differentiation strategy to deepen client relationships and grow business.

    This article focuses on how law firms can use diversity and inclusion as part of a business differentiation strategy that drives revenue and profitability. It covers four key areas. First, it explores an emerging opportunity for law firms to use diversity and inclusion as part of a business differentiation strategy. Second, it looks at the challenge unconscious bias can pose to pursuing such a strategy. Third, it examines approaches to mitigating unconscious bias that focus on building effective interactions among people across differences (intergroup contact). Fourth, it illustrates how to apply intergroup contact within the context of building diverse client teams. The client team structure is used as a practical example for how to design effective interactions across differences to reduce unconscious bias. The client team structure is also used as a practical way to illustrate how diversity can be used as part of a business differentiation strategy to deepen client relationships and grow business.

    ‘Client teams: an innovative approach to reducing unconscious bias and differentiating through difference’ by Kelly M. Brown is taken from the seventh issue of the new Modern Legal Practice, published by Globe Law and Business,

    Modern_Legal_Practice_Journal_Seventh_ed _ Kelly_M_ Brown.pdf

  • 04/15/2019 2:22 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    We are excited to welcome morning keynote speaker Adis Vila to our Summit on July 29th. Vila is accomplished in many areas and has been a thought-provoking speaker when it comes to inclusion in the workplace. It is vital that we understand how inclusiveness impacts and benefits at all levels. While the topic is one we are all likely familiar, it deserves a second look. All members of an organization should embrace and promote inclusiveness in the workplace, and not just for the health of the organization, but for each individual's well-being.

    We all expect policy to be invented and adopted from the top down. But we should also expect complete and informed buy-in from leadership as we increase inclusiveness across the board. This is not just a matter-of-fact policy but a new way of thinking that can impact business in real ways.

    Once management understands the need for a diverse workforce, we move on to agreement from the entire team. This is at least one place where the workforce may be ahead of leadership. Many studies have shown that a majority of employees think their company should be more diverse. Moreover, they believe their company isn't doing enough to promote diversity and inclusion. It is vital that all levels of employees have empathy and take ownership of this part of the process. If there is a gap in acceptance, the ripple effect of this could be significant.

    Still, countless studies cite the conscious and unconscious bias of hiring managers. Counteracting this preconception is not a quick fix but rather a deliberate process. Vila shares her research and perspective with corporations, boards, and even the military, and offers candid insight for building a diverse team right from the start. Vila addresses how leadership should be prepared to explain how diversity and inclusiveness can drive innovation, enhance human capital performance, lower employee turnover, support the firm’s competitive advantage, and enhance the firm’s ability to execute on its strategic vision.

    At CLI, we believe inclusiveness is about creating a culture where everyone has a voice and where differences are celebrated to achieve shared success. And not just in the legal profession; any business can be strengthened by a diverse and inclusive workplace. Please join us on July 29th as we explore this topic further.

    About this speaker:

    A member of The Florida Bar and the Washington DC Bar, Adis Vila earned a law degree from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida, a Diplôme in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva, Switzerland), an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a BA in Mathematics from Rollins College.

    Vila was named one of Hispanic Executive's Leading Latinas in 2018. She was honored with the "Woman Trailblazer" Award, Dorothy Height "Hats Off to You" Award, and "Women of Distinction" Award by The University of Akron, Girl Scouts of Colorado, and Delta Sigma Theta, respectively. Her work at the Air Force Academy was recognized with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, the "Dare to Dream Award" by the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, and an INNOVATION Award by The Diversity Journal.

    Learn more about Adis Vila by clicking here

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