Rod Watson: Job fair to diversify legal profession will help more than just lawyers | Local News

The blindfolded lady holding the scales of justice is a nice ideal.

But in a society as diverse as this one, you can’t get there by pretending differences don’t matter. And the consequences of embracing or ignoring those differences are rarely as significant as they are in the legal system.


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The Unitarian Universalist Church of East Aurora is conducting immersive workshops for children and adults to explore race and ethnic identity and how to build an anti-racist society.

That is why Western New York’s first ever Legal Diversity Career Fair last week sponsored by the Minority Bar Association of WNY, the Bar Association of Erie County and the University at Buffalo Law School was so important.

It was a conscious effort to diversify law firms, as well as governmental and non-profit legal departments, not just because it’s the right thing to do – which it is – but because it creates better outcomes.

“Every employer will perform at its best when it has voices at the table that represents many perspectives as possible,” said Lisa Patterson, the Law School’s vice dean for career services. “That is what diversity in hiring is about.”

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Spearheaded by Samantha White, incoming president of the Minority Bar Association and a member of the BAEC’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the job fair brought together employers and a pool of job seekers diverse in terms of everything from race and ethnicity to religion, sexual orientation and disabilities. A key goal is to change how employers across the legal industry look at such candidates.

“We’re hoping to see a shift in how we hire,” White said, with employers

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