BY ANDREW BENNETT – CENTER FOR LEGAL INCLUSIVENESS
A little less than a year ago, the Center for Legal Inclusiveness Young Lawyer Division was just something I was told about by a friend for whom I was volunteering. I did not know this group — what it was, its purpose, why I was being voluntold, or how I really fit in; it was almost like being a 1L again. Fast-forward to the present, and I am the vice chair-elect and actively recruiting anyone I can.
So, what is CLI-YLD and what are we all about? The simple answer is it is for young attorneys, defined either by age or newness to the practice of law, who are seeking a community they can belong. Our goals are to
advance CLI’s mission of helping to create a more diverse and inclusive legal profession. We focus on retain- ing diverse attorneys in the various legal fields and helping them to ac- cess the resources they need in order to be successful.
In Colorado, we are lucky as young, diverse attorneys because we have CLI to be our advocate. We also have The Colorado Pledge to Diversity’s 1L summer clerkship program, which has helped hundreds of diverse attorneys gain access to positions in the legal field. With support from these two organizations and the affinity bar associations, there is a wide group of diverse young attorneys working in law firms, large and small, the government, legal departments, and in nonprofits (yours
truly). With all of these attorneys scattered across the metro Denver region, however, there was not a venue for these young attorneys to find a community of their diverse peers.
This is where CLI-YLD comes in as a place for diverse young attorneys to find community and career support. CLI does not give CLI-YLD a free pass on this adventure. We are being asked to take charge of our future, as well, and put on programming for our peers. Starting with a social event and moving on to planning and coordinating CLI-sponsored lunch talks with local general counsels, CLI-YLD is branching out to provide the type of career support network we envisioned during our very first meetings.
Surely, you are wondering when I was going to get to the why and how
of my so very sneaky signposting, well here it comes. Aside from one of my best friends from law school, Kensi Mays, voluntolding (real word, I swear) me that I was going to participate, CEO of CLI, Karen Hester, gave me an impassioned talk on how the CLI-YLD could have a positive impact on current and future diverse attorneys. I was sold on the idea from the beginning.