The Center for Legal Inclusiveness, CLI, was honored to host Dr. Arin Reeves, President of legal diversity consulting firm Nextions LLC, as the Keynote speaker for the 2017 Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit. Her honest and un-apologizing assessment of diversity and inclusiveness in the legal community was inspiring.
Dr. Reeves notes that the number of women of color who are partners or have equity in their firms hasn’t changed since she first looked at the issue 10 years ago.
“There’s a lot to be said for going in knowing you’re going to be treated differently, so I need to work twice as hard,” Dr. Reeves advises. “Understand that it’s not in your head. It is real, it is happening and it’s not easy.” She adds: “Most women of color at law firms have phenomenal survival strategies, but we think it’s going to be fair and we kind of get sideswiped. But if you’re well-prepared for it, then I think you’re steady on your feet and no one can shake you with craziness.”
Dr. Reeves says, “People think because they’re committed to diversity and inclusion that they are creating diversity and inclusion” when in fact partners need to ask themselves very specific questions about their actions in the diversity realm and determine whether their efforts are truly proactive. Instead of succumbing to a defeatist perspective, the question should be “How can we fix this?” not “Can it be fixed?”
Dr. Reeves also urges young attorneys to “show up” and “speak up” at social events and meetings, and notes that even if you’re shy or don’t like to schmooze, you should actively seek out mentors inside and outside your law firm by joining organizations and networking.
Dionne King, CEO of DKM Consulting, commented that “Arin fully delivered by masterfully intersecting metrics with common sense approaches to implementing diversity and inclusion programs in law firms and legal departments.”
One Summit attendee said “Arin Reeves is amazing. I especially loved that the gloves came off a bit this year. I have used her take on political correctness more than once since the Summit”.
One CLI Board member commented, “She reminded us in an era when we are no longer supposed to be “politically correct,” this is not a license to be rude and disrespectful. Effective communication requires mutual respect and listening.”