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This Briefing explores the role of professionalism as a tool to police and regulate people of color in the legal field. Professionalism is a standard incorporating a set of beliefs about how one should operate in the workplace and encompasses: communication style, interpersonal skills, appearance, how well a person adheres to the standards of their field and employer, and efficacy at the job. Professionalism seemingly applies to every role in the legal industry (counsel, judges, court and government personnel, law firm and legal services supervisors and subordinates, etc.) yet it is used to widely police and regulate people of color in particular. And professionalism in the legal industry often carries the silent expectation that people of color, women, people with disabilities, and people who identify as LGBTQIA have a high threshold to withstand discrimination. This Briefing will evaluate how professionalism can reinforce systems and institutions that produce racial inequality and subordination, as well as ways to identify inappropriate conduct, self-evaluate one’s own role, and steps to consider to disrupt professionalism as a racial construct in the legal field.
After completing this Briefing, participants will be able to:
- Understand how professionalism can be used as a tool to police and regulate people of color in the legal field (8 minutes)
- Examine the bias and discrimination threshold applicable in legal practice and identify how such standards and expectations are counter to a race and equity conscious and inclusive environment (14 minutes)
- Recognize the occurrence and enabling of a selective offense and consider strategies for responding to, discouraging, and avoiding such conduct in the legal profession (12 minutes)
- Reflect on the questions “is justice blind?” and “what is meant by reasonable person” (12 minutes)
- Deconstruct what is meant by professionalism, review responses when inappropriate conduct occurs, and understand steps to move toward accountability in legal practice (14 minutes)
Who Should Attend: This program will be of great interest to all legal professionals concerned about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession, and especially to those who seek to disrupt professionalism as a racial construct in the legal field.
Program Level: Overview
Advanced Preparation: None
Mobilization for Justice, Inc.