Diversity and the Law

Thank you Dean Eric Lane for inviting me to deliver this year’s Howard and Iris Kaplan Memorial Lecture.

The goal of this lecture series is to bring jurists to address the community on important and timely legal issues. A worthy goal indeed, of which I am honored to be invited to further by my comments this afternoon. As I was considering what might be an appropriate topic, I thought about the variety of legal issues that our high court decides. I thought a discussion on procedure might be of interest because many a lawyer has failed to appreciate, to the detriment of the client, the scope of our jurisdiction as well as our preservation rules. Perhaps a discussion on some arcane aspect of appealability or the mootness doctrine would stir intellectual curiosity and provide a basis for future conversations.

I eventually settled on a very different topic, but I consider it no less important than the areas mentioned above. Rather than address what might otherwise appear to be the weeds in which we toil as jurists, I have decided to discuss diversity within the legal profession, and specifically, the judiciary. I consider this topic timely and of great concern to the legal profession and the greater society because it requires us to think critically about expectations and hopes for the future of our democratic system of government. The changing demographics of both the profession and our population demand that we approach this issue with an eye to a candid and open dialogue about what these undeniable changes mean for our judiciary, our justice system, and the rule of law.

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