Challenge Disparity, Build Diversity

Bar Association of Erie County’s Board of Directors Passes Board Resolution Challenging Disparity in the Legal Profession

The Bar Association of Erie County’s Board of Directors has passed a Resolution calling on its members to recognize and educate others about the disparate impact of COVID-19 on women attorneys, attorneys of color, and law students of color. The Resolution calls for specific action, including the implementation of a community-wide Pledge. The resolution reads as follows:

Whereas, COVID-19 has a demonstrably disparate impact on women lawyers, lawyers of color, and law students of color;

Whereas, the BAEC believes that a diversified bar in all aspects of our profession is a stronger bar now and in the future;

Whereas, diversifying the practicing bar in Erie County is a core value of the BAEC and central to fulfilling our mission;

Whereas, the BAEC believes that raising awareness of the disparate impact of COVID-19 on women lawyers, lawyers of color, and law students of color will help mitigate actions that adversely affect these affected groups;

Therefore, it is hereby resolved:

The BAEC encourages all of its members to recognize and educate others about the disparate impact of COVID-19 on women lawyers, lawyers of color, and law students of color.

The BAEC supports scheduling the NYS Bar Exam to accommodate non-first-time takers.

The BAEC supports flexibility and civility in scheduling matters with opposing counsel and employees during this pandemic.

The BAEC encourages firms and employers to remain committed to diversity in hiring and promotions during COVID-19, including partnerships and internships and to take a pledge to do so and promote that pledge, Challenge Disparity, Build Diversity.

The BAEC shall hire a Say Yes Intern.

The BAEC shall create and support a giving circle philanthropy program that will be dedicated to providing funds to support the advancement of women lawyers, lawyers of color, and law students of color in the law.

The Board passed this Resolution upon the recommendation of the BAEC’s Task Force on Adapting to Practicing During the Pandemic, a newly formed group chaired by Elizabeth Kraengel, BAEC board member and partner at Duke, Holzman, Photiadis & Gresens, LLP. BAEC President Oliver Young states that “the Resolution represents an actionable plan” and he “encourages all firms and workplaces to publish the resolution and embrace the Pledge.” He expressed appreciation of the Task Force and commended the Task Force members for their timely action and collaboration with the Minority Bar Association of WNY, the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, WNY Chapter, and the UB School of Law Alumni Association. “We are stronger together,” President Young stated. The four legal associations have issued a joint statement to their members addressing the disparate impact of COVID-19.

The community-wide Pledge challenges all members of the WNY legal community to take action and reads:

I pledge to: (1) Actively identify and address issues of disparity involving women attorneys and attorneys of color in my spheres of influence; (2) Design and participate in initiatives within my law firm or other place of employment that address issues of disparity against women attorneys and attorneys of color; (3) Participate in the Western New York legal community’s efforts to address issues of disparity and increase diversity and inclusion; and (4) Support my colleagues, financially or otherwise, in their efforts to implement the pledge.

According to Elizabeth Kraengel, “The pledge is an effort by our legal community to collectively address the importance of prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already disparately impacted women attorneys, attorneys of color and law students. The Task Force recognizes the hard work of member Anne Bowling, Esq., for bringing these issues to the forefront and for inspiring us to take action.” For more information about this initiative and to take the pledge, visit eriebar.org/TakeThePledge.