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2022 Spring Committee Meetings brings in thousands of lawyers

Thousands of lawyers attended the 2022 Spring Committee Meetings last month, with many of them attending continuing legal education programs that emphasized diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Thirty committees hosted 25 meetings during the Spring Committee Meetings May 2-6, with a combined attendance of over 3,800, said Krista Lepper, Missouri Bar committee and section liaison. The Spring Committee Meetings provided more than 15 hours of CLE credits total, including those for ethics and elimination of bias.

The Women in the Profession Committee hosted the CLE, “You’ve Got a Friend: Why Male Leaders Should Mentor Women,” which had the highest number of attendees out of all the committee meetings.

The committee often asks men to be more involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to help equalize the gender gaps in the workplace, but there isn’t much guidance for how men can actively help in those efforts, said committee co-chair Stephanie Wan.

“The reality is that when men are actively engaged in gender inclusion within the legal community, progress is made for the profession as a whole,” said Kathleen Hamilton, who moderated the CLE. “… When male leaders mentor women, they help break down inequality and gender-based barriers which leads to more positive interactions and inclusion of women in the profession.”

By offering this CLE, Wan said she hopes those in leadership positions recognized the importance of mentoring women, and lawyers also learned how they can make the most of mentoring relationships.

Ultimately, I hope the attendees were inspired to go out and help mentor, sponsor, and promote people that don’t look like them or have the same background as them, and the CLE provided them with some good ideas on how to kick off that relationship,” she added.

Continuing to offer CLEs like this is necessary to help build a more diverse and inclusive profession, Hamilton said.

“It is vital that all leaders acknowledge that there are intrinsic biases which impact how others are treated,” Hamilton said. “However, acknowledgment alone does not move the needle towards equality. Leaders have to listen, learn, and act in ways that encourage inclusion, which is why it is important to encourage male leaders to provide equal access to their support and guidance.”  

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee held a CLE that focused on discrimination and implicit bias for ADR neutrals: “ADR Tools to Address Race & Gender Discrimination & Implicit Bias.” The committee saw a record attendance of more than 300 lawyers, co-chairs Paul Ladehoff and Michael Geigerman said.

Through the CLE, the co-chairs said they hope ADR neutrals better understand the types of bias that they may unconsciously carry and how they can self-identify and address those biases.

It’s important to offer CLEs that focus on recent changes in law or best practices in a specific area, Ladehoff and Geigerman said, but it’s also “equally important to provide ‘general practice improvement’ opportunities like this CLE to discuss how we can provide truly neutral dispute resolution services, regardless of substantive area.” 

Civil Practice & Procedure Committee also saw high turnout for its CLE, “7 Habits of Highly Successful Advocates.”

While The Missouri Bar offers several CLEs on how to object at deposition, instruct a jury, and remain in compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, there are few CLES that focus on professionalism, “which goes to the very heart of what we do on a daily basis,” said committee chair Michael Murphy.

“I think that as society has become more and more partisan and divided and even angry, lawyers ought to be talking even more about professionalism and civility, and about what it really means to be ‘a professional,’” he said.

All members of The Missouri Bar are encouraged to join committee and section activities. Lawyers can choose from more than 40 open enrollment committees and sections that each specialize in a substantive area of law, practice setting, or community. To join a committee or section, visit MoBar.org/Committees-Sections.