Be Well, 1021 WYBJ, Vol. 44 No. 5. 60

AuthorMaryt L. Fredrickson
PositionVol. 44 5 Pg. 60

Be Well

No. Vol. 44 No. 5 Pg. 60

Wyoming Bar Journal

October, 2021

The Role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Attorney Well-Being

Maryt L. Fredrickson

Business sectors have long recognized the overlap between well-being and diversity. A principle of diversity initiatives in that sector is the recognition that diverse views allow for greater creativity, more problem solving, and thereby better results for customers. Another principle is based on empirical data showing that diverse teams generate greater financial revenues and are more efficient, even more so when management teams are diverse.1 Another principle—and one with a clear link to well-being—is to reduce attrition. People who feel less included and less valued simply leave. Attrition has a direct business impact by losing talent and incurring new costs for recruitment and training.

In-house counsel have long imposed diversity requirements when hiring outside counsel to promote problem solving, creativity, and efficiency in legal services.2 The Securities and Exchange Commission passed a rule in August 2021 requiring boards of companies traded on the NASDAQ exchange to have, or publicly disclose why they do not have, at least two diverse directors including at least one self-identified female director and at least one director who self-identifies as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+.3

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives have also reached the practice of law. The American Bar Association’s 2017 Task Force Report on attorney well-being evaluated the overlap between attorney well-being and DEI: [O]rganizational diversity and inclusion initiatives are associated with employee well-being, including, for example, general mental and physical health, perceived stress level, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, trust, work engagement, perceptions of organizational fairness, and intentions to remain on the job. A significant contributor to well-being is a sense of organizational belongingness, which has been defined as feeling personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others.4

A more recent study of the legal profession, released in May 2021, identified a volume of attrition among women and attorneys of diverse backgrounds due to well-being issues in the profession, particularly related to alcohol and substance abuse.5 NALP also regularly issues reports on the attrition of women and young lawyers.6 The Wyoming State Bar’s Quality of Life Survey, released in June...

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