Diversity & Equity in Family Law

Diversity & Equity in Family Law

Diversity & Equity in Family Law

Growing up in a landscape defined by systemic racism deeply embedded into American culture, I am particularly sensitive to issues of access and inclusion. And yet, I am too aware that we can have the best of intentions and still not be as inclusive as we’d like.

That’s why I joined the Diversity and Inclusion committee of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). I wanted to embed into my work as a Collaborative Divorce lawyer a deep and constant alert to whether we are incorporating diversity at every level and fighting racism.

As an organization, IACP is determined to be as inclusive as possible. At the same time, we cannot control who decides to join. There is a deeper issue at play, and one which we may not have nearly as much impact – how many minority audiences choose to become attorneys.


Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

I’ve been aware for some time, and truly bothered by it, that the legal profession in America is heavily white. To be frank, according to the American Bar Association, only 5 percent of attorneys in America are African American. That is inexcusable!

The IACP is an international organization, which expands our view of inclusion and diversity beyond the borders of the United States. And there are so many aspects to diversity. It’s not just about race.

It’s also about gender, sexuality, socioeconomic factors, age and more. We want true inclusion, across defining characteristics to be a truly representative profession and industry.

travel work

When the Equity and Inclusion committee formed three years ago, it was an area that I saw having a real need for diversity. We were all white, middle to upper class attorneys sitting around a pretty homogeneous table. How could we combat racism?

Our clientele was pretty white, too. How were we going to educate people? What strategies would we use to reach out to other communities and bring people in?

I joined this crusade because I saw it as an opportunity to get in at the base line level and really have an impact.

These days, a lot of DEI work feels like it’s the “in” thing to do. When people are marching on cities in the name of Black Lives Matter, it would be natural to take a closer look at areas that lack diversity.

But it’s not that for me. It’s not a trend or a bandwagon to jump on. This is part of who I am.

I believe in all people, and I believe all Americans should have access and entry to the industries and communities they desire.

When I was in elementary school in the 1960s and 1970s, my school principal was African American. I didn’t realize how groundbreaking that was at the time, for I was just a small girl, but looking back I am awestruck by the foresight that my school had in hiring a Black man to lead our school.

Both details – that he was African American and that he was male – are significant. So many educators were women and of course most were white.

Seeing a man of color in a powerful position, guiding children from the youngest, most impressionable ages through to adolescence, leaves an indelible mark on what matters and who should lead.

From my young vantage point, I didn’t see any of this, of course. I just saw a kind man who was nice to me and had a smile for every child in the building. I had no idea what a pioneer he was or that it was a landmark role for my community.

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As I’ve become more educated on systemic racism, I can grow sad about the struggles we still see happening for black and brown people in America. Why does this continue to be? 


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I know all the intellectual and emotional reasons sociologists will cite, but deep down in my soul, I cannot understand it.

I sometimes feel like as an individual, I am so unable to make an impact or truly make lasting, tangible change in this area, at a high level. I’ll admit, sometimes I feel kind of helpless.

Of course, I could just resign myself to my little homogeneous bubble and go on with life. But I won’t. I can’t. I must do what I can to make even the slightest difference, in my profession, in my community, in my life.

It’s not who I am to ignore what is happening around me. This country needs righting, and I’ll do my part to make it happen.

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Antiracism in Family Law

Antiracism in Family Law

Antiracism in Family Law


Dr. David Campt

As a member of the IACP Diversity and Inclusion Committee, I’ve been learning how to take steps toward true antiracism from Dr. David Campt, a national expert in inclusion, equity, cultural competence and intergroup dialogue.

This antiracism work is so important, now more than ever, as America moves toward finally and completely changing the racial equity landscape once and for all (I hope).

Dr. Campt teaches about how we can address racial bias in our work. He speaks about learning to talk across divides, how to manage conversations and ways to practically engage in conversation so we all learn how to do this better.

As a mediator in addition to being a family law attorney, I am always looking for ways to better manage and guide constructive conversations that lead to outcomes that benefit all involved.
Fully owning my white privilege, I looked at Dr. Campt’s White Ally Toolkit (find it here).

It isn’t enough to be inclusive; we must be actively anti-racist, taking steps to become aware and living as examples of what it means to be truly anti-racist. This is an imperative that we must fulfill in our professional and personal lives!

Some tips Dr. Campt offers for working toward effective anti-racism include the following:

Clarify Your Intentions
Dr. Campt says that an overriding goal in combating racism should be “facilitating opinion change.” He says to be very clear on what you want to accomplish from the outset, and let it guide your actions.
Cultivate Mindful Courage
With antiracism in mind, Dr. Campt emphasizes the need to be calm and centered before you take action. That means releasing anger and allowing yourself to take a moment during an interaction to calm yourself before continuing.
Cultivate Curiosity
Ask questions – don’t lecture people on their wrong views. The best way to get someone to listen to you is to listen to them first.
Focus on Agreement and Common Humanity
Minimize differences by showcasing shared values and common ground. Pointing out differences puts people on the defensive and makes it hard to have productive conversations.
Practice Humility
People bond over vulnerability. Opening up about a time when you behaved in a way that you regret, perhaps even in a racist way, shows humility and builds respect from the other side. To become antiracist, be open. Be honest. Sharing is the first step toward caring.

How are you making changes to become truly anti-racist?
Click here to contribute to this conversation.

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