Diversity and inclusion are words often heard in discussions about our society. Giving people of every race, religion, culture and belief an equal voice and opportunity is one of the cornerstones of a working democracy. Nowhere is that concept more crucial than the legal community. Without diversity and inclusion, laws are in danger of being applied and dispensed unfairly, law firms operate under too narrow a vision, and bias encroaches on the basic concept of blind justice.
A diverse and inclusive law firm, with lawyers from many backgrounds and experiences, is crucial to meeting the needs of a widely varied client base. Juries are selected from the broadest expanse of cultural, racial and ethnic ranges, so it is vital for trial lawyers to have a thorough understanding of each potential jury member’s world view. Judges are as varied and culturally diverse as the juries they oversee.
With that in mind, N.C. Lawyers Weekly recently asked practicing attorneys active in diversity and inclusion in the legal community to share some thoughts and advice on the subject. Following is a question and answer session featuring Tricia Derr, of the Charlotte firm Lincoln Derr, and Hayley Wells, with the Asheville office of Ward and Smith.