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ABA and BASF Host Hearing on Diversity in the Legal Profession


March 26, 2009 – San Francisco -- The American Bar Association and BASF received testimony on the state of diversity in the legal profession at a public hearing held on March 25 at the State Bar of California. This was one of four hearings to inform the agenda of an invitational ABA Presidential Diversity Summit on the State of Diversity in the Legal Profession that will take place June 18-20 in Washington, D.C. 

BASF President Russell S. Roeca, and Ruthe Ashley, chair of the ABA Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity, opened the hearing.  

Witnesses were asked to address diversity in broad terms, encompassing race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and physical and mental disability.  Panels focused on lawyers practicing in law firms and corporate legal departments; legal academia; lawyers and judges in the public sector; and bar associations.  Local interviewers and audience members had an opportunity to ask questions. 

Panel participant Deborah Rhode, Stanford Law School professor talked about the culture of law firms and the lack of progress of women, especially women of color, rising in the ranks to partner and into higher management.  She testified, “Having formal policies in place does not change workplace culture.”

Previous hearings were held in Boston and Atlanta and the final hearing was held in Columbus, Ohio in mid-April.

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104