PBCBA BAR BULLETINS PBCBA_october2017.finalB - Page 4

PRESIDENT ’ S Message

PRESIDENT ’ S Message

Unity in Diversity

Rosalyn Sia Baker-Barnes 2017-18 PBCBA President
“ There is diversity in unity , not a uniformity . The parts do not look alike , they do not function alike , yet , they are all important , needed , interdependent , and all work toward the same end .” Author unknown …….
When I was in elementary school , I had my fist exposure to racism , but I didn ’ t understand it at the time . I was the only black child in my class , but I had loving teachers and my school environment was one where I didn ’ t have to worry about being different , we embraced our differences . That was until everything changed . A student came to class one day and invited everyone in the class to a birthday party , everyone except me . When I came home and told my parents , they were furious , they knew the reason , even if I didn ’ t . But it ’ s not the negative in this situation I remember so much , it ’ s the positive . While my mother was in the Principal ’ s office ( the same day !) expressing her anger at this situation , another parent overheard and realized that her child , who was also in the class , had received the invitation . She immediately came over to my Mom and said , “ If Sia can ’ t go to the party , my child will not go either .” Word spread and soon , all of the parents rallied behind my mother in UNITY . Instead of removing me from that environment and further dividing us , my parents , together with the other parents in the class , embraced unity . They demonstrated how we can change perceptions and treatment by learning from each other , both from our differences , and how in so many ways , we are similar . My understanding of the concept of unity in diversity began with this experience .
According to the most recent census data , minorities currently represent nearly 1 / 3 of the U . S . population , and are expected to become the majority by 2042 . There are increasing numbers of dual-income families , as well as single working mothers , who represent a significant portion of the workforce . Generationally , Americans are living longer and retiring later , which could result in up to four generations working side-by-side at one time . This is especially true in the legal field , where lawyers tend to retire much later than others in the workforce . When one considers other factors that make us diverse such as language , culture and religion , it is easy to see the benefits of havinga diverse law firm .
There are a number of benefits of diversity in law firms and legal practices . One example is increased productivity from diverse lawyers working together toward a common goal , utilizing their unique skill sets and ability to communicate to diverse audiences . Diverse law firms have a unique ability to attract and retain talent by fostering an inclusive environment . Lawyers that feel included , like they belong and are part of the team tend to stay longer and enjoy their practice environment . Finally , diverse law firms can improve client satisfaction by having diverse lawyers and staff . We represent clients from all walks of life , many of whom have cultures , traditions , and practices that may be different from ours . Most law firms now have multi-lingual staff members because of the need to communicate in a multi-lingual world . We recognize that our clients are most comfortable when they can effectively communicate with us , and we are better advocates when we can effectively communicate our clients ’ stories .
I encourage you to promote Unity in our practice and in our communities by embracing diversity . Join us in our efforts by attending and engaging with our Committee for Diversity and Inclusion ( CDI ). If you are looking for a new lawyer , consider advertising your position with our Diversity Placement Database , designed to connect local law firms with candidates from all backgrounds . This fall we are accepting applications for our Diversity Internship Program , designed to benefit both law firms and law students with opportunities to work at local law firms and agencies during the summer months . Several of our interns have now graduated from law school and are practicing here in Palm Beach County . Finally , consider joining the CDI as a committee member . There you will have the opportunity to meet lawyers from a variety of backgrounds and practice areas , and help us develop new ways to meet these challenges . To learn more about our efforts , visit www . palmbeachbar . org / diversity .
I hope you all will attend our Diversity Luncheon on October 18 , 2017 , which will be a candid discussion of where we stand in Palm Beach County , and how , we through unity , can embrace all facets of diversity in our legal community .
PBCBA BAR BULLETIN 4
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