CLI in the News/Media

  • 09/05/2019 8:27 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Dear Friends of The Center For Legal Inclusiveness,

    We are sad to announce that Karen Hester is leaving Center For Legal Inclusiveness (CLI) on September 6th after serving our community for the past 6 years. 

    While we will miss Karen’s leadership, we are happy for her because she is leaving to pursue a new opportunity with Lockheed Martin.

    The Board of Directors applauds all that Karen has brought to the organization and the vast accomplishments she leaves behind. We, along with CLI’s COO Abe Kaul, are committed to a seamless transition plan that will include a diligent search for her successor. The Board will select an interim executive director during this transition period.

    As leaders of the Board, we know that transitions can be difficult but we are committed to making sure CLI continues to meet the ever-evolving needs of the community and our mission of creating a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.


    Patrick O’Rourke
    Board Chair

    J. Ryann Peyton
    Board Chair-Elect

  • 08/21/2019 10:12 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Implicit bias and Implicit bias training have become a trending topic with many firms. Moreover, it is not just law firms that are getting serious about this type of exercise – large corporations, police departments, and schools are seeing the value in this brand of training for their staff. However, what is "implicit bias" and what can we do about it?

    What is it?

    Implicit bias is most often considered an unconscious predisposition towards a stereotypical opinion. In the simplest of terms, it means one believes a stereotype is true because one has heard or seen it so much. We receive so many biased messages daily - in the media, from friends or family – that we often accept them as fact without question. Your brain – while taking in all these messages – will make a ''shortcut' to be able to process this information, primarily, putting people into categories. And yes, some of these categories are not favorable.

    Imagine that all of your life, you’ve heard messages that left-handed people are disorganized. You had a left-handed classmate in school who had messy handwriting, and a teacher called them out on it. Maybe you have seen a movie or TV show, and the bungling character just happened to be left-handed. Also, also perhaps a friend or family member chimes in about their feelings about left-handed people. Over time, these messages you receive start to become your perception of left-handed people. Now, imagine that you are interviewing a job applicant that is left-handed. Your implicit bias would make you less open-minded to learning about them as a person because this prejudice has clouded your judgment long before you even met this person.

    How do you minimize the impact implicit bias has on your decision-making?

    Now that we know what implicit bias is, how can we conquer it? While it is not a hard task, it does need consistent attention. We need to stay aware of the message we are taking in. It's easy to use a stereotype to categorize a person we don't know, and that is where the problem lies. We should be taking the time to get to know the person and appreciating their unique experience. Further, we should be countering these statements when we hear them.

    I’m sure we’ve all heard the lament “millennials are lazy." Not only is it not true, but it's also an excellent example of how implicit bias can alter perception. "Millennials" are people from all cultures and background that were born around the same time. Each person in this group has had different experiences shape the way they think and act. They may work differently, but to label all of a specific age group as “lazy” is, well, lazy.

    While much more specific training surrounding implicit bias is so essential to all culture, genders, and age groups, becoming aware of and acknowledging your bias is a great beginning.

    Once you recognize implicit bias, be aware of how these messages and stereotypes could impact your judgment – even in a way that you think is positive. Also, if you believe that your implicit bias is not grounded in a negative stereotype, then work to ensure your judgment does not swing the other way and give preference to those because of a positive stereotype.

    Center for Legal Inclusiveness offers training on many topics, including implicit bias. Please contact us ( or 303.313.6860) to schedule a training.

  • 08/15/2019 4:23 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    CEO, Karen Hester, talked with Dot Org this week about our mission and our programs. 

    KGNU's Dot Org program highlights local non-profits and the work they do to enrich our community.  

    If you missed it, please use this link to hear more. 

    KGNU Dot Org

    If you want to know more about membership and how you can become more involved with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, please click here.

    Our Membership includes training, consultation, access to educational and networking events, free job postings, our manual and much more!

  • 07/17/2019 10:33 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    A successful diverse lawyer was, at one time, a successful law student and law school graduate. But recruiting and retaining diverse attorneys has not led to successful outcomes. So how do we ensure that diverse attorneys are placed where they can be successful? Legal employers are becoming more adept at fulfilling the needs of a different new generation of students-cum-associates, but there is always room for learning more. We have two sessions designed to address the unique needs of hiring and training attorneys. Where once these lessons a "wouldn't it be nice," it is now a must-have across the board.

    Zack DeMeola will present "Foundations for Practice Project" based on what essential competencies lawyers, firms and judges are looking for in new lawyers. And how can employers best assist and make sure they can "hit the ground running."

    In 2015, The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) began its "Foundations for Practice" project. They surveyed more than 24,000 lawyers across the country to identify the characteristics, competencies, and skills that new lawyers need right out of law school. Since publishing the results of the survey, IAALS has been using those results this past year to work with law schools and over 30 employers selected by these schools to develop a set of learning outcomes, assessments, instructional designs, and hiring tools to instill and identify desired characteristics, competencies, and skills in future lawyers.

    The culmination of all this work is a Foundations-based Learning Outcomes Model. A set of Foundations-based hiring tools, and recommendations for how educators and employers can effectively use them for more objective and reliable assessment of student performance and hiring criteria. A Foundations-based hiring process that is intentional, explicit, and consistent, more aptly aligns the needs of the employer with the abilities of a candidate. This requires employers to clearly define the capabilities they seek in new hires and tie those abilities to their hiring criteria. This results in more compatible matches between new hires and employers and has more potential to reduce the influence of bias in hiring than relying on traditional approaches alone.

    At the end of this program, participants will:

    · Be familiar with Foundations for Practice research on what new lawyers need for success;

    · Understand how Foundations for Practice research can be used as the basis for designing learning outcomes and hiring tools;

    · Understand how to take advantage of and apply the results from the Foundations for Practice study as another tool to improve or supplement legal education and career development, including the use of objective criteria to reduce the influence of bias in hiring

    Once a diverse new lawyer is hired, the process is not over - likely it is just the beginning. Employers and lawyers need to work together to find the best methods for coaching, giving and hearing feedback, mentoring, and growing. Eli Wald's session "Coaching the Diverse New Attorney: How to Succeed and Advance in Your Law Office" addresses this topic with timely and realistic information.

    Legal employers are hiring new attorneys who may have priorities and needs that may differ from hires in the past. Understanding and addressing those needs and priorities are critical in the recruitment and retention of that talent.

    At the end of this session, participants will:

    · Determine how to get honest and helpful feedback and assessment of their work.

    · Understand how to find and cultivate advocate mentors in their office.

    · Identify ways to make themselves invaluable.

    · Learn how to ask their supervisors for top assignments.

    · Understand implicit biases, its impact on their professional development, and how to navigate it.

    · Determine how to assess their standing in their office accurately.

    · Allies will learn tips on coaching new diverse attorneys in private firms, public law offices, corporate legal departments, and other law-related work situations.

    With our Summit, just days away don't miss your chance to engage on these essential topics.

  • 07/08/2019 1:09 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Our diversity and inclusion conversation continues with two speakers who will cover self-assessment and self-promotion within the legal profession. As we talk about these programs and ideas, we must be able to assess our achievement and be able to feel comfortable effectively promoting our accomplishments.

    Jonathan White, professional Development Counsel at the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, will present "Proactive Lawyer Self-Assessments: Promoting Professionalism, Inclusivity, and Access to Justice.” Mr. White’s talk will describe a self-assessment tool created by Colorado lawyers and non-lawyer professionals who volunteered their time to help other lawyers succeed in practice. Those volunteers provided practice suggestions and guidance through a series of voluntary, confidential self-assessments.

    These assessments encourage lawyers to think about how to serve clients better, meet ethics obligations, and respond to changes in the legal marketplace. The topics evaluated included are access to justice and promoting greater inclusivity in the profession. The evaluation also encourages lawyers to think proactively about how to expand access to justice by making small changes in their practice, or how to bring about greater inclusivity by thinking about how diversity in a law firm can benefit the bottom line. Then this becomes a model for addressing two paramount concerns facing the legal profession: the fact that many Americans do not have the means to afford legal services and that the profession’s diversity does not reflect that of the nation.  Many lawyers have heard of these issues. Many are concerned about these gaps. But how can the profession translate these concerns into action? The self-assessment model is one important answer. Questions coupled with educational resources that are solution-oriented can transform a practice and the legal culture more broadly.

    At the end of this session, participants will:

    • ·           Gain an increased understanding of voluntary, confidential proactive practice review programs and their benefit to lawyers and their clients.
    • ·           Become more familiar with the publicly-available resources that discuss lawyer ethics as well as concepts ranging from lawyer well-being to inclusivity.
    • ·           Learn how to create such programs and, in tandem, market them to lawyers.

    Another key for inclusiveness in the legal profession is the ability for lawyers to feel comfortable touting their achievement in the field as well as their accomplishments in diversity and inclusion programs. 

    Tiffani Lee, Holland & Knights Diversity Partner will speak on “Mastering the Art of Self-Promotion: Effective (but Tactful) Ways to Toot Your Own Horn and Accelerate Career Progress” Women attorneys and attorneys of color often express feeling uncomfortable touting their achievements and advocating for themselves.

    Experts and law firm leaders know, however, that self-advocacy is a critical tool for career advancement, including accessing networks, getting stretch opportunities, and making an attorney's accomplishments (or potential) visible. Ms. Lee will share the research, her observations, and practical tips for how women attorneys and attorneys of color can strategically (but tactfully) promote themselves in the workplace to accelerate their career progress.

    At the end of this session, participants will

    • ·           Understand the importance of self-advocacy to career development.
    • ·           Become aware of some of the barriers to self-advocacy and unique challenges faced by women attorneys and attorneys of color.
    • ·           Develop practical and diplomatic strategies for self-advocacy that can be used individually or shared with others (ex. in associate mentoring and coaching roles).

    Our robust program at this year’s Summit is full of captivating speakers, cutting edge ideas and thought-provoking conversations.  We hope you will join us on July 29th

  • 06/24/2019 2:56 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Let’s tackle a diversity topic that might not be top of mind for everyone: generational inclusiveness.  Have you thought about how you relate to older and younger employees? How do you deal with these differences?  How does the younger generation relate to a more former team member with different experience and perspective?

    Generational Inclusiveness expert Tonia Morris will be presenting ”How to Manage and Develop A Generational Inclusive Workforce" with many ideas and solutions to this unique topic.

    For the first time in history, we have five generations in the workforce. This has been a challenge for many organizations. Many organizations face challenges with recruiting, retaining, developing, and managing generation expectations. As the workforce evolves with multiple generations, a significant factor affects the workforce - Leadership! Leadership looks different. In the past, leadership development was having employees put in their time, and haphazardly develop these skills on their own. However, now, many organizations are developing leaders at every level, consciously, deliberately. How we lead and manage will also be different.  Many organizations are going to lead via technology instead of in person. We are more global now than ever before. According to SHRM, by 2020, the workforce will look different, meaning the employee/employer relationship will be different. We will have more contractors working in the workplace who also contribute to the GIG economy. The question is, are you READY for the new workforce?

    Let Go of your Unconscious Bias

    Whether or not you realize it, you could be inflicting your unconscious bias on your co-workers.  We take in so many messages all day long; there is undoubtedly an ageist message that you have picked up. You have to let go of these messages and treat each co-worker as a person, not an age. 


    Once you have cleared your mind of stereotypes and misconceptions, you need to be able to relate to a person, not just an age group. More seasoned employees notoriously have more profound soft skills (like relationship building and being 'team players'), so it should be a no-brainer to relate to a younger employee, right? Adapt these skills that you likely use on clients to your team member, and you will see these results mirrored in them. Yes, a newer employee may have different ideas and methods, but together, this team could move further if they can adapt to each other. Be flexible, and you'll find success much more easily

    Embrace Technology

    How we work has changed over time.  If you remember carbon paper and typewriters, then you must also not forget how you moved with technology, and it eventually made a positive impact. Don’t stop now.  It would be best if you continued to embrace technology as it continues to change the workplace.  As younger workers will likely have a better grasp on technology, you use this to educate others on your team, too.

    Keep an Open Mind

    If you can embrace technology, you can surely embrace keeping an open mind in other areas.  Younger generations have different ideas and perspective, and this can make a real impact on the rest of the team. Don't be afraid of new ideas. Real, impactful change, and innovation comes when we are brave enough to step out of what is comfortable and be open to new ways of thinking. 

    At the end of this session, participants will:

    • Understand the impact of a multi-generation workforce.
    • Learn the importance of understanding a multi-generation workforce.
    • Become aware of the work expectations of a multi-generations.
    • Be able to lead a multi-generation workforce.
    • Obtain leadership skills needed to attract, retain, develop, and manage a multi-generation.
    • Gain a different perspective and understanding of each generation, the commonality of each generation.
    • Appreciate how everyone has a responsibility to create a generationally inclusive workplace.
  • 06/13/2019 12:32 PM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    Diversity Fatigue Sucks: Best Practices for Sustaining Fresh & Relevant Inclusion Programs

    We’re talking about the stuff diversity pros experience but don’t want to admit. The dreaded fatigue that happens when progress is slow and support is non-existent in D&I initiatives. What sucks is the big WHY? Why does this happen and why is it the #1 reason firms fail in their efforts. I'll give points on why folks fizz out and then I'll give points on how to overcome this dreaded but inevitable diversity fatigue. Here's a few of my topics. It will be hilarious and cathartic.

    1. Toe The Line

    2. Dog & Pony Show

    3. The Walking Dead

  • 06/10/2019 11:37 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    We talk a lot about diversity and inclusiveness as it is an important topic, but it can become overwhelming. Don't give up; we can help.  In addition to covering cutting edge topics, we also are offering practical advice on D/I issues that you can put to use in real circumstances.


    This has to be the start of any program that is built to last.  Are you communicating to your organization on the importance of D/I, identifying your goals, and determining your resources? Without sharing a clear vision and continuing to communicate openly, you may face some challenges.

    Keep it positive

    Any program that focuses on the problems, not the solution is bound to fail.  Turn your perspective to find the good and sharing those messages.  You may find that your organization and your team are more open to lasting change if everything is presented in a positive light.


    When and if your policy experiences fatigue, you’ll need some reliable solutions to WAKE IT UP.  Dionne King’s vast experience across many industries makes a for an engaging presentation to rejuvenate your practices to re-engage and re-energize your policies. Don’t be fooled; it CAN happen.  The best thought-out and planned policies CAN become tired if not reinvigorated with new ideas.

    Make it sustainable

    It can be all sizzle and no steak.  Put some real substance in your policy. Erica Edwards-O'Neal's presentation "Baked-In Inclusion" will offer solid ideas to makes sure you can sustain D/I policies and practices and not just provide lip service. It is crucial that you have a plan to keep your ideas and strategies alive months and years down the road.

    Keep it relevant

    You might want to think about how you can make your D/I plan/policy pertinent to everyone in your organization.  Diversity in the workplace fosters innovation, healthy competition, emotional intelligence, and so much more. Get everyone on board by finding out what matters and relating that to the importance of diversity.

    It is worth noting that both of these presentations are not only relevant to those in the legal profession but to just about any HR team that is seeking to make diversity and inclusion part of their organization's structure.  Our Summit is a worthwhile investment for so many organizations across the country.  To learn more and to register your team for our Summit, please visit our website

  • 05/30/2019 8:26 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    María Pabón’s presentation will address the legal aspects of states educating undocumented students and the current trends in the admission to the practice law of undocumented attorneys in the U.S. The Supreme Court jurisprudence on these topics will also be identified and examined. Also an analysis of the legal policies and ethics of immigration, employment, and other areas affecting undocumented lawyers. Perhaps most notably this session will explore how these topics fit into the field of diversity. These discussions will assist all in the legal profession as well as, elected officials, professional licensing authorities, and policy analysts in these fields.

    If you’re interested in some advance reading before this session please use these links:

    Consider the 1982 Supreme Court of the United States opinion “Plyler v Doe” which granted undocumented students the ability to go to K-12 school .

    In this case,  5-to-4 majority of the Supreme Court found that a Texas policy charging undocumented children tuition for a free public education was in violation of the 14th Amendment, as illegal immigrant children are people "in any ordinary sense of the term," and therefore had protection from discrimination unless a substantial state interest could be shown to justify it.

    Texas had argued undocumented not persons under the 14th A, nor were they subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. The court majority rejected this claim, finding instead that "no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment 'jurisdiction' can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful." The Court majority found that the Texas law was "directed against children and impose[d] its discriminatory burden on the basis of a legal characteristic over which children can have little control" — namely, the fact of their having been brought illegally into the United States by their parents.

    Plyler Dissent : Four Justices found that  in principle that it was unwise for illegal immigrant children to be denied a public education, but the four dissenting justices argued that the Texas law was not so objectionable as to be unconstitutional; that this issue ought to be dealt with through the legislative process; that"[t]he Constitution does not provide a cure for every social ill, nor does it vest judges with a mandate to try to remedy every social problem"; and that the majority was overstepping its bounds by seeking "to do Congress' job for it, compensating for congressional inaction".

    María Pabón is an expert in immigrants’ rights (including the education of immigrant children), immigration law and diversity/multicultural matters in the legal profession. She has researched and written about criminal law. She has also done research in the areas of family law and inheritance law as it pertains to those who are not U.S. citizens.

    Click here to learn more about this speaker

  • 05/14/2019 6:13 AM | Alison Oyler-Mitsch (Administrator)

    The landscape for LGBTQ lawyers is changing every day.  As of 2016, an estimated 1.4 million adults in the US identified as transgender.  The gender binary is being replaced by the gender spectrum, and 35% of trans* individuals identify as gender diverse, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.

    For legal employers, it is no longer a matter of IF they will have transgender or gender diverse employees, but preparing for WHEN they have trans* employees. Despite strides toward inclusion, 27% of transgender people who held or applied for a job in the last year reported being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion due to their gender identity, only 33% of non-binary/gender non-conforming individuals report being out at work, and 45% of trans* individuals have experienced negative incidents at work on a monthly, or even more frequent basis. Given these figures, it's more important than ever that legal employers ensure an inclusive, welcoming environment that is respectful of all gender identities and expressions.

    Making space for trans* and gender diverse lawyers, staff, and clients in legal organizations can be tricky. Much of the work requires reframing conversations about gender, retraining the brain around language, and implementing policies and procedures to limit the influence of gender norms and biases. Every organizational leader should understand the basic concepts of gender identity and gender expression, including how these concepts differ from sexual orientation. They must display gender-inclusive language and model appropriate pronoun usage. Finally, they must understand the state of the law in Colorado and federally to create policies regarding facilities, harassment, dress codes, and the like which accurately reflect the rights of trans* employees and clients. 

    Is your organizational leadership prepared to do this important work?

    “Transgender at Work” will provide you with the tools and resources your organization needs to develop greater empathy and awareness of trans* and non-binary identities to create spaces of belonging in your organization. 

    Gender Transition Plans & Policies can be overwhelming. We’ll break them down into practical parts so your organization can adapt and implement a plan for the probable moment when a trans* employee announces they will be transitioning gender at work.

    Even if you are well-versed in trans* 101, developing your power an ally to trans* and gender diverse colleagues is imperative to creating inclusive legal organizations. We will provide important knowledge and resources so that you can interact with your coworkers, colleagues, clients, and friends who may identify as trans* in a respectful and supportive manner. Allies are always learning how to put their responsiveness into action. We’ll give you the tools you need to be a better ally and recruit those around you to be allies too!

    Join us to:

    • Learn more about trans* and non-binary issues
    • Champion inclusion and diversity throughout your organization
    • Challenge thinking and actions, systems and processes
    • Be a visible and active ally
    Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum, other than cisgender man and cisgender woman. The asterisk denotes an effort to also include all non-binary, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming identities, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, and bigender.

    More about this speaker:

    Ryann Peyton serves as the Director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP), a program of the Colorado Supreme Court. A former litigator and a seasoned consultant and advocate on professionalism, diversity, and equity in the legal field, Ryann is a frequent commentator, presenter, and lecturer having contributed to the Denver Post, Law Week Colorado, Denver Business Journal, KDVR Fox 31, Rocky Mountain PBS, and Colorado Public Radio. Prior to joining CAMP, Ryann focused her law practice on civil litigation with an emphasis on LGBT families and civil rights.


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Center for Legal Inclusiveness
1776 N Lincoln Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80203-1028

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