There is no doubt that 2021 started on a high, from Justice Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, swearing in Vice President Kamala Harris, to the inspiring words of Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate. Yet, these triumphs cannot replace the ongoing struggle of people of color for equality in society and the legal profession.
An important step to redressing systemic racism is to understand and create an inclusive community, including the legal profession because having “a diverse legal profession positively impacts the administration of justice, ensures fairness, and promotes the rule of law.” Many organizations have never gathered data on the demographics of their members, hindering the ability to implement goals to become more inclusive.
In 2019, the California State Bar collected voluntary data under a California Attorney Census, and issued its first Report Card on the Diversity of California’s Legal Profession. The State Bar reported, among other things, that “[w]hite attorneys account for nearly 70 percent of California’s active licensed attorney population, while people of color constitute 60 percent of the state’s population” and that while women make up 42 percent of the California’s active licensed attorney population, only 16 percent of those women are people of color.
In continuing our progress, SBWL recently adopted its equity and inclusion statement:
“Santa Barbara Women Lawyers is committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion, diversity and connectedness. SBWL was founded to address inequality, discrimination and bias toward women and women lawyers. We are committed to the advancement of women of diverse backgrounds in the legal profession and community as a whole. We welcome individual perspectives and experiences to encourage open collaboration to enrich our understanding and respect for each.”
SBWL’s mission to promote equality and serve the interest of women includes women of all diverse backgrounds. We must work together to understand and appreciate the value diverse cultures bring to our community. SBWL is working in collaboration with Santa Barbara Public Defender’s Office and others to improve racial awareness and justice. As part of this work, keep an eye out as SBWL will be sharing the quarterly newsletter from the Santa Barbara Public Defender’s Office Racial Justice Committee.
SBWL celebrates and recognizes Black History Month in this moment in time when history is being made. SBWL, again, congratulates a fellow California attorney, Vice President Kamala Harris, on her historic achievement.