News & Press: ISBA News & Events

ISBA taking action on race and equity issues

Friday, June 26, 2020  
Share |

The Indiana State Bar Association supports the Supreme Court of Indiana and the statement on race and equity made by Chief Justice Loretta Rush in pursuing equal justice across the legal spectrum.

Almost a century and a quarter ago, Justice John Marshall Harlan in his most famous dissent expressed the “color-blind” character of our constitution, which was again referenced by President John F. Kennedy in his civil rights address on June 11, 1963. Despite the efforts of many over the course of decades, there remain improvements to be achieved.

To address systematic problems highlighted by recent protests across the country and in response to Chief Justice Rush’s call to action, the Indiana State Bar Association is working diligently to create a safe space for its minority members that fosters an environment in which they can thrive and feel supported.   We will continue to strive for a legal community that promotes inclusivity and that is devoid of inequality and discrimination. To that end, the ISBA has been working to develop an action plan that will ensure a meaningful impact in the Indiana legal space.   

Today, we share a sampling of our commitments to stand against racism. They are:

  • Creating a strategic plan that will identify and address key areas of inequality within the legal system. Specific details will be shared as the plan is developed.
  • Partnering with IUPUI to conduct a survey which will provide data to gain insight into the minority experience in the legal profession in an effort to guide future programming. This project, led by the ISBA Diversity Committee, was under way before protests began.  
  • Lending ISBA resources and expertise to the Indiana Supreme Court and other partners who are working to close the equity gap. 
  • Providing free CLE to educate and increase awareness on topics such as diversity, implicit bias and other areas aimed at closing the equity gap. 
  • Doubling back on past work, such as the 2010 Summit on Racial Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System, to determine what progress was made and what needs more attention. 
  • Sharing opportunities for members to engage in progress, such as the recent Legal Observer trainings and participating in Indy Lawyers for Black Lives.

The above list is not exhaustive and the ISBA will continue to work hard to pursue innovative ways to promote equality and fairness in the legal profession.

Please join us in being active participants to improve equity within the justice system, the legal profession, and in our own respective communities. Feel free to contact us with any ideas or expressions of interest.

Sincerely,

Leslie Craig Henderzahs, President
Michael Tolbert, President-Elect
Joe Skeel, Executive Director