William Murphy explains why so many companies and law firms get it wrong when implementing diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
William L. Murphy is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland...
Carl H. Morrison, ACP, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has...
There’s a right way to create a culture of diversity and inclusion and there are countless wrong ways companies and law firms continue to develop failing programs and policies. St. John’s University’s William Murphy tells host Carl Morrison the range from worst reasons to implement (reactionary) to best (making the business case). In between are altruistic or PR-motivated programs doomed to fail. He outlines what makes a successful program and how those programs not only improve culture but increase profits.
William L. Murphy is an Assistant Professor at St. John’s University.
Special thanks to our sponsors, NALA, ServeNow, CourtFiling.net and Legalinc.
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone, welcome to The Paralegal Voice here on Legal Talk Network. I’m Carl Morrison, an advanced certified paralegal and your host of the Paralegal Voice.
Before we start today’s show, we would like to thank our sponsor NALA. Nala is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education, voluntary certification and professional development programs. NALA has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
And CourtFiling.net. E-file court documents with ease in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. To learn more, visit courtfiling.net to take advantage of a free 30-day trial.
And ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted pre-screened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, who embrace technology and understand the litigation process. Visit servenow.com to learn more.
And finally, Legalinc. Legalinc makes it easy for paralegals to digitally automate tasks like business formations, corporate filings and registered agent services nationwide. Visit legalinc.com/podcast today to create your free account.
Okay guys, boy oh boy have I got a special guest on today’s show. It’s someone that I have been following for quite a while in the Twitter universe or Twitterverse as I like to call it and someone that I hold in high regard and he’s an attorney, he’s a paralegal professor, he’s an academic influencer and he likes to call himself an edutainer, which is true. I’ve seen him burst in and he’s amazing and so, I want everyone to please welcome to the show, William Murphy, J.D. He is a full-time assistant professor in the Division of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies and Homeland Security with St. John’s University in New York. Welcome, Will.
William L. Murphy: Thanks for having me, Carl. You are too kind with that intro and I’m very happy to be here. You and I of course connected through AAfPE, the American Association for Paralegal Education and I could see that your passion and engagement in what we do, educating paralegals, rivals my own, so I’m very happy to be here.
Carl Morrison: I’m humbled. Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate that and I could really take up the whole show reading your bio and all the amazing accolades and —
William L. Murphy: Please don’t.
Carl Morrison: We’ll save that for later. We’ll save that for later and I’ll tell you guys, if you want to go out there, just Google William because there’s all sorts of great stuff out there but anyway, let’s just jump right off in to today’s topic.
Today’s show is all about diversity and inclusion and I kind of want to approach it from the 30,000-foot view and what it really means to our legal industry. There’s so much out there in the way of articles and YouTube videos and everything about diversity and inclusion but I kind of want to take it from a more broad approach and I recently read an article of yours, Will, that you authored for the Journal of Business Diversity in December of 2018 and it’s so relevant today and it’s entitled Distinguishing Diversity from Inclusion in the Workplace: Legal Necessity or Common Sense Conclusion.
And as a law nerd, I really enjoyed your article and loved how you approached that topic and like I said, while that article’s almost three years old, it couldn’t be more relevant than it is today and so, I want to start from the beginning. And of course, everyone has heard diversity, equity, inclusion or it’s more commonly known as DEI and it’s one of the most common phrases we’re hearing today and of course, in light of all the tragedies that have happened over the course of the past 12 months, with Black Lives Matter, Asian-American tragedies most recently, I can go on. But really in layman’s terms, Will, can you really define just the terms diversity and inclusion? What do those terms really mean?
William L. Murphy: Of course, and what’s interesting is the article is three years old. It’s again relevant, if it ever stopped being relevant, and if I were to go back and rename that article, I’d actually retitle it Diversity is a Dirty Word because when you think about the definitions in layman’s terms of diversity, of inclusion and of course equity at the time I wrote the article and did my research, equity was sort of this emerging trend. It hadn’t really taken hold yet. In fact, in a speaking engagement about a year after my article was published, we touched on equity, so that’s another term that needs to be defined.
You really need to look at what people say about it, so there’s a scholar from Brown University, Quinetta Roberson, and she ran this study where she basically just asked people to define diversity, to define inclusion and their answers to put each in one word, the answer for diversity would be different. Different.
When people think of the term diversity, they think of differences, the things that are different between two different people. Whereas when you ask a group of people to define the term inclusion, the answer’s together. Together. United. And I think just putting it in terms of different and together kind of sums up why I started to think diversity might be a little bit of a dirty word for a variety of reasons and not surprisingly, her study went a step further.
What she did was asked the response that people had viscerally just gut instinct response to the word and the majority of people participating all had a negative response to the term diversity overwhelmingly and on the contrast, had an overwhelmingly positive response to the word inclusion.
So, when you start looking at the data and you see, well, everyone diversity, diversity, diversity, but the actual accomplishment of diversity is decreasing substantially in the workforce, in the legal field being no exception, you start to realize, well, maybe it’s not about diversity, it’s about inclusion. It’s not about what makes us different, it’s about what brings us together and how we can leverage those differences together as opposed to just acknowledging what’s not the same about you or I or anyone else.
Carl Morrison: Exactly and we could spend a whole show just talking about that particular study and what it really truly means and I encourage the listeners to go out and read the article because there’s a lot of stuff that we’re not even going to remotely touch in our short 30-45 minutes show that we’re going to do. But when you look at those and when we talk about diversity and inclusion together in the workplace in the legal industry, let’s take one step back and where and when did that concept of diversity and inclusion originate in the workplace?
William L. Murphy: Well, you really need to look back to the 1960s, Carl, and it’s founded very much in the civil rights movement, which ironically enough, I think when we look back on 2019, 2020, 2021, 50-60 years from now, this will be considered, in my opinion, the second civil rights movement. And in many ways, hopefully the results follow because while some will argue that the civil rights movement of the ’60s didn’t accomplish enough, my argument is it accomplished something and something’s better than nothing.
So, it started there and it started with President, at the time, John F. Kennedy and it was an executive order. So, there’s the term affirmative action, which we’ve all heard, not everybody understands what it means but it’s in the common vernacular and what that was is one line in an executive order issued by Kennedy in 1961. Basically, what he was saying in his executive order was the federal government of which he was the chief executive must make an affirmative action to hire people from underrepresented populations, at the time, the connotation was race. It really only applied to race then given the nature of the civil rights movement.
A year later, he comes back, another executive order expands upon it and says it’s not only the federal government but it’s anybody who does a certain amount of business with the federal government, so federal contractors of a certain amount are also going to be held to this obligation to take affirmative action to hire and employ individuals from underrepresented populations. Again, the primary recipient of that benefit at the time would have been based on race. So, that’s where it started.
It wasn’t really memorialized in a statute in terms of legislation until the famous Civil Rights Act of 1964. At this time, John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, Lyndon Johnson is taking up the cause with a divided congress and they passed this act and what it had was something called Title VII. So, Title VII actually does not stand for affirmative action. What Title VII stands for is a prohibition on employment discrimination based on, yes, race, which the movement and trend had already been going towards but also a number of things we call immutable traits.
Immutable traits, meaning you’re born with it. You can’t change the color of your skin. You can’t change your age. You can’t change a number of different things and that was the basis of it. Supreme Court interpretations most recently Zarda v. Altitude Express and a number of others have expanded these definitions of immutable traits, so now, thankfully, we have employment equality for those who identify as LGBTQ, which is fantastic. That case was decided two years ago.
So, it’s grown. It’s also grown by statute, so you have something like the American with Disabilities Act of the ’90s and you have the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act from the 2000s, so they can’t discriminate based on your genealogy and your genetics in other words. We’ve seen it grow from there but for the most part, it’s that Civil Rights Act from 1964 Title VII that stands for what we understand to be employment discrimination and its prohibition under United States federal law.
States have enacted similar statutes. Other than that, not much has happened. So you have some Supreme Court rulings, you have that, it’s really been the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that’s kind of stepped in and come up with ways to sort of incentivize and penalize employers for not taking sort of a voluntary approach to inclusion efforts and equity efforts and I hate to say it, diversity efforts, because I say it’s a dirty word. So, they’ve kind of taken up the mantle since then. But largely on a statute level on a legislation level, it’s remained unchanged and this is again different than affirmative action.
Affirmative action is this small requirement for federal government and federal government contractors of a certain amount, everything else, the discrimination is its own issue but then what the EEOC doing is encouraging people to take on DEI initiatives is its own beast entirely. It’s got nothing to do with the law as set forth by our legislators and executive branches.
Carl Morrison: And you can see and understand why a lot of businesses, especially — and this is just me anecdotally. It’s not like I have data that I’m relying on for my opinion but I think that’s why a lot of law firms struggle with how do we incorporate, how do we handle DEI initiatives and it’s almost like firms and corporate legal departments have gotten caught with their “pants down” that they’re having to frantically try to get up to speed because they’ve just kind of taken sort of a hands-off approach and we’re diverse, we’re inclusive but they don’t fully appreciate or understand the terminology. That’s my two cents on it. I don’t know if you agree with that or —
William L. Murphy: There’s two ways of looking at it, Carl. We’ll look at it at the legal profession, we’ll circle back to that but on the whole, just look at corporate America or even non-profit America or educational America, why do people do this? So we know that affirmative action applies to a very, very, very small percentage of employers, so why diversity and inclusion and equity, why is this hot button trending thing that everybody wants to do and usually their reasons are all wrong. You look to it, what do they do at legal?
The first thing, I’ve been in businesses with like, “Oh, we have to do affirmative action.” I’m like, “You do? You got x amount of dollars in government contracts? I didn’t know that.” So they think they have to do it for legal reasons. They don’t. Then the worst case scenario is what? The reactionary. The reactionary reasons, right?
They get an EEOC complaint. They get a discrimination lawsuit under Title VII in federal court and that’s an awful way to bring about this program when it’s like, “Uh oh, we’re in trouble. Let’s clean up our mess.” Then, there’s better reasons. Of course, there’s the moral reason and while you and I can sit here, we’re preaching to the choir, having the conversation amongst the two of us. As much as you and I know, it’s right, it represents the world and where the world’s going. There is unfortunately always going to be a percentage of people who do not accept that notion and do struggle with change and will be resistant to it no matter what you tell them or what you do.
But that brings kind of it to the last point and the last reason why an organization of any type might adopt this is for business reasons. Why? Because the research shows that when you adopt a really good approach to inclusion and equity and diversity, guess what? Your profits go up, your markets expand, you create new products and new services. Why? Because you’re bringing in new perspectives that can speak to new groups of people and bring in an entirely new audience or consumer base for whatever it is you’re trying to sell.
The best way to sell it to people is in a business way and that’s kind of why it’s done wrong. Why? Because the reason why it’s done is, “Oh, we have to follow affirmative action.” Again, you don’t. Or, “Uh oh, we’re in trouble and we just don’t want egg on our face. That’s never a good look especially today.” Now, you circle to law practice and law offices in the legal industry, what’s so interesting about the legal industry is it is so archaic compared to when you look at similarly-situated industries, right?
You look at accounting or banking, the medical field, you look at just like the benefits that an employee in one of these firms gets in say like a PricewaterhouseCoopers, a PwC versus like a Skadden Arps, one of the biggest law firms in the world and it’s like night and day. It’s like, “Oh yeah, you get six, seven, eight weeks vacation at PwC and here you have a 25,000 hour billing requirement each year.”
So, BigLaw just doesn’t get it but small law doesn’t either. When I say small law, I know there’s like a medium like there’s a range of these midsize firms. To me, a midsize firm often is a small firm who’s just trying to grow and they still operate like a small firm and a lot of those places I’ve worked at, you perhaps have, Carl, too. They run like pizza places. So when they’re doing good legal work for their clients and they’re getting a lot of billing done and they have a lot of files, at the end of the day, when it comes to the human resources side or the business management side, it’s all really poor and you’re kind of seeing this with COVID of all things because you’re seeing these bigger firms and the smaller ones just trip all over themselves trying to stay afloat.
Smaller firms, they’re like, “Oh my god, I’m not billing for travel anymore to court or to meetings, what am I going to do?” If your business was dependent on building travel, that’s a problem. With the big firms, they’re suffering through all kinds of similar issues believe it or not. So, for them to think like why is it a problem in the legal industry, well, is the problem that they’re not open to it or accepting to it or doing it for the wrong reasons, no.
To me, the problem in the legal industry is the business model of the legal industry is so desperately in need of change to begin with that they can’t even think about sincerely and genuinely implementing any kind of equity inclusion diversity initiatives that are going to have any positive significant impact in the end of the day.
Carl Morrison: Do you think that firms by and large truly understand — like truly understand the difference between diversity and inclusion or do they just — their mindset is it’s just all one concept?
William L. Murphy: I think unfortunately, the general consensus is that it’s one thing and therein lies the problem. It’s not only one thing to them but it’s a problem. It shouldn’t be a problem. It should be something you want to do for the reasons we’ve talked about. You’ve shown that your business is going to go through — not through the roof, that might be an exaggeration but your business is going to increase, your business is going to be better for doing this rather than it just being the trendy sexy thing to do or again reactionary and trying to put out a good public image.
So no, they don’t understand and you can look at the ways that they go about doing it to be clear that they don’t understand it, which are often when you have a law firm that is trying to do it in the right way, the methods that they use to sort of get there are so off base and so ineffective and in many ways counterproductive that it makes evident that they have not a clear understanding of what they’re actually trying to accomplish in terms of separating these goals.
Carl Morrison: Instead of approaching it from a moral standpoint, just you need to do this period as a human being not for a business purpose is what you’re saying. Most firms, most businesses aren’t approaching it from that moral standpoint. They’re looking at as strictly a business decision.
William L. Murphy: See, I don’t think law firms are even approaching it as a business decision personally. I think it’s simple. I mean at the best, it’s for good PR and good public image and at the worst, it’s reactionary or if you’re a law firm that doesn’t understand the differences between affirmative action and a voluntary diversity inclusion initiative, come on, should you be — I hope you’re doing like wills or trusts or estate planning or something if that’s the case.
I think they’re doing it for either those bad reasons or for PR. I don’t think the moral or business is apparent to them and I think for that reason, that’s why when they do do it, they do it wrong.
Carl Morrison: They’re just — it’s like you said, it’s reactionary.
William L. Murphy: Yeah. I mean, it’s not necessarily reactionary. I don’t want to characterize the legal industry as doing it reactionary. I would say, it’s either if it’s reactionary, let’s cage it this way. It’s reactionary in terms of society so, “Oh, let’s get ahead of this. For our public image, let’s say we’re the diverse firm. We’re the inclusive firm.”
Carl Morrison: Right. Like I said, many firms, many businesses, they’ve been recently frantically trying to incorporate these DEI type initiatives and they’re trying to get it into their operations, they’re trying to get it into their recruiting aspect, but do you think these types of actions are really bringing about the true desired results?
William L. Murphy: No. I mean the study that I cite in my paper was from Harvard, so the study I believe was 2016 or 2017. It’ll show you that it’s not but something tells me that really hasn’t changed. I feel confident in saying that. The methods that they use are backwards. They’re actually decreasing the amount of diversity.
The way you need to look at it is this–they’re separate but my view on it is if you have a place that’s inclusive and now equitable bringing the term equity into the equation, that will give you diversity and you’ll probably look around. It’s not a guarantee. Is it possible to have an inclusive and equitable workplace that’s not diverse? It certainly is. So I don’t want to sit here and say, “It’s a panacea for all our problems.” But when you think at it — approach the problem from the sense that look, if we foster a workplace culture that’s inclusive and equitable, then we’re going to look around one day and we’re probably going to see the diversity we want in terms of the representation in our workforce. But how are they doing this?
This is not just necessarily legal providers, even Starbucks did this very famously two years ago. What is the answer to diversity? Let’s have mandatory diversity or sensitivity trainings. That’s always the answer and it is proven to be about the worst way you can approach this challenge and think about why. And studies bear this out but think about why.
If you’re someone who — and I’m afraid to put it out there — who identifies as I do, as a straight white male but I also identify as someone who’s very much an advocate and an ally for these underrepresented populations, I work at the second most diverse university in the entire country, so you’ve picked someone like me and then you throw me in a room and tell me I’m the devil, that doesn’t sit well with me. In other words, what does it do? When you should be bringing advocates and allies in, pointing out where they are unable to understand something or don’t but can learn something instead of just making them feel like horrible people who even though they thought they got it really don’t, so there’s the people that’ll be turned off but then there’s the people like me that leave these things saying, “Wait, did I just get punished? Did I just get punished? And did I get punished because of this person over here or this person over here or this person over here?”
So you see, it has like that backwards effect of taking someone who could be a champion for the cause and on a policy level in an organization or an institution help effectuate those changes and fight for them alongside the other populations fighting for them, you’ve turned this person off to the point where they want nothing.
Another interesting study was job — they did this study where two groups of people who identified as straight white men were given a business task. It was to interview a potential client, just to interview a potential client. In the test group, the potential client was all about diversity, diversity, diversity, diversity, diversity. In the control group, there was no mention of diversity at all and wouldn’t you know at the end of this study, that the group that was interviewing the very pro-diversity organization, the pro-diversity company as a potential client suffered unimaginably. They performed horribly and awfully whereas the other group performed up to par to standards to show you there’s that aspect to it.
So this mandatory training plus like who’s honest in these things? I’ve sat in a bunch of them. Usually you’re sitting there with your boss, so I don’t always feel comfortable speaking out when my boss is there. They’re not really an open space to talk honestly, so they’re very problematic on a multitude of levels. Another problem you have is grievance systems. So, “Oh, we’ll put a person in charge of this. I’ll put a person in charge of this.” And usually that person works where? Human resources. Well, that’s problem number one. Who likes human resources? I don’t.
Human resources is kind of that department in wherever you work, be it a law firm or university, a government office where you just want to avoid them like the plague. I don’t want — I don’t care even if it’s a good thing. I don’t want it in my file. But more often than not, if it’s not HR and it shouldn’t be HR, if it’s not HR, who is it? Who are you grieving to? Who are you reporting this to? Your boss, well, who sometimes is responsible for the discrimination, the harassment or the other adverse employment action. Your boss. So what good does that do?
You could go on and on but these are the type of things that we see. This is how they do it and you look at it and you’re like, “Wow, no wonder why it’s not working.”
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly right. This show needs to be like a four-part series because we could really go down a lot of different rabbit holes and unfortunately, we don’t have enough time. So, I’m going to take a little short commercial break. So listeners, don’t turn that dial.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Legalinc. Legalinc is empowering paralegals to embrace their inner legal rock star by automating the everyday tasks that hold them back. Through their free dashboard solution, paralegals can quickly and easily automate services like business formations, corporate filings, registered agent services and more. Visit legalinc.com to create a free account and check out legalinc.com/podcast for a chance to win legal rock star swag.
NALA members receive exclusive content such as the paralegal utilization and compensation survey report, access to a members-only collaboration site, discounts on office products and car rental, access and preferred placement on a web platform for paralegal contract jobs and access to the member-only career center. NALA members also receive discounted education and products. Join NALA today and become a part of our community. Learn more at nala.org.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. We’ve been talking with my guest William Murphy, J.D. and, Will, before the break, we were talking about businesses really fully understanding the difference between diversity and inclusion. What are some of the challenges to diversity inclusion practices that employers, law firms are really encountering? What would you say would be a couple of challenges?
William L. Murphy: I think one challenge is sometimes they don’t know that they have a problem. That’s one challenge. I mean, if they’re doing okay business and their profit lines, their billings are good, and the firm’s making money, the equity partners are able to draw their dividend out of the firm, they don’t even know the problem exists unless they were to actually take a look at it. And you see this a lot, too. I live in New York. Specifically, I live on Long Island and I see a lot of these mid-sized firms which I’d go back to classifying as small firms that have just grown beyond the point where you could call them a small size firm even though they still function that way. They don’t even know they have a problem. But you look around and everybody that works there is a straight white guy and they have no reason to question it because everything looks good.
Number one is sort of admitting you have a problem like anything else in life but you need you, I guess, the impetus to want to do that, so that is a big challenge they face. Another challenge they face is well, we know what not to do and we talked about that before the break, these like reporting systems where you’re reporting to the person who’s responsible or these mandatory trainings but there’s big questions out there about what do you do? What do you do? So okay, I don’t do that but how do I handle it? That’s a multifaceted challenge because it’s not one size fits all. You look at a company so it’s not legal — a big company Costco, and they’re known as having one of the best, most inclusive workplace cultures that you can imagine.
Now, if I run a law firm with 30-40 attorneys, a team of 30-40 paralegals to support them, does Costco’s inclusion initiative fit my firm? Probably not. So, you kind of got to think outside the box. You got to think outside the box. You need to assess what you want to — know there’s a problem but then assess, well, what do you want if that problem was solved? What would it look like? And how do we get there.
There’s strategies. There’s things like mentoring. Mentoring programs are good and this comes back to the sense of all right, they don’t know there’s a problem but a good way to make them aware that there’s a problem is you tell them you can make more money if you do understand and fix this problem. Sometimes, look, I’m one of these people that I really — I feel strongly that I know how I’d like the world to look but I’m not too naive or ignorant to realize how it actually does and sometimes you need to appeal to people’s self-interest to get them on board and increased business as a motivation is one thing, how do you communicate to that to these people is a challenge but two is mentorship programs are a good way to start accomplishing diversity, strategic mentorships.
Imagine this where you have the stereotypical middle-aged white male who might be a junior partner or senior partner in a law firm and you pair them with a young black woman, what matters to that person. And then you tie their financial incentives in terms of compensation to not only their billings, not only to the results on their cases, not only to the business they bring in, the files they bring in but you tie that to the performance of their mentee. So, you’re incentivizing this person then, “Hey, you know if it works, it works.” What do they care about then? “Well, I get an extra 10 grand if my mentee wins this award or my mentee accomplishes these things.” So, it’s selfish yes, but it starts accomplishing the purpose and what it does is it gives the young person in the equation a real leg up, a real support system when it comes to the work aspects. So that’s a challenge to as how do we do it.
Those are a few ideas but you really need to sit back, you said 30,000-foot level earlier and I think that resonates now. You got to look back at what you want to — admit you have a problem and then look back what do you want to accomplish and what are the best ways to do it. Is it mentoring? Is it strategic recruiting? You can’t have a quota but maybe we need to start recruiting at HBCUs or HBFUs or something like that, maybe that’s what we need to do.
So, examining what exactly you want, what the goal is, what it’s going to accomplish for you be it business moral or otherwise and then attack it with creative solutions that are not shown to have the opposite effect like mandatory trainings and quotas and job tests and reporting structures.
Carl Morrison: You hit on a topic that I need to have. It just hit me as like I need to have a show on just on this topic alone is mentorship and the importance of it in light of DEI-type initiatives because I think that is a huge part. We do it as paralegal educators. We pair practicing paralegals with students as a mentor-mentee relationship so that they understand and are able to grow — the mentee grow into the role but also the senior established paralegal also grows as an individual to see the world through the eyes of the “younger paralegal, the newbie paralegal” and it’s the same thing with diversity, equity, inclusion in a mentorship type of relationship.
The mentor can see the world through the eyes of the mentee and vice versa and the two can grow professionally, emotionally, spiritually, whatever you want to say through that type of initiative, so really, I need to have a show on strictly mentorship.
William L. Murphy: And I think it needs to be strategic though. I got to point that out.
Carl Morrison: Correct.
William L. Murphy: If you put all the women together or any members of an underrepresented population together, I don’t think that serves the purpose. I think that creates clicks. It needs to be a cross-cultural sort of and I mean cultural in a cultural sense yes but also in a social sense in terms of youth culture and so forth. It needs to be that way, to your point for them to see the other and not create more division by kind of sectioning people off.
Carl Morrison: Thank you for that, yeah, absolutely. You’re exactly right. In your article, you talked about moving from diversity toward inclusion. So I’m going to say that again for the listeners, moving from diversity toward inclusion and you said I’m going to quote from your article, you said, “Diversity itself does not achieve its ends without inclusion as its vehicle for progress.”
So, thinking about that quote and thinking about moving from diversity to inclusion because people are probably going to go, “Wait, what? You’re going to move from diversity to inclusion? What does that mean?” So how does a business like a law firm or an association or whatever move from diversity toward inclusion in its practices and programs?
William L. Murphy: It comes back to the definitions, right? Diversity is what’s different and inclusion is together, so you need to bring people together and there’s a variety of ways to do that. We joked about human resources not being everyone’s favorite department. Well, this isn’t the type of thing that human resources should be doing. This should be its own department or own person if you’re in a small firm. If it’s a really small firm, it should be something that everybody’s talking about together at the meetings.
So, one, it needs to stand on its own, inclusion, and to the mentorship, it’s like you should incentivize people, it should be just as important because it’s shown it will increase the overall profitability of your business, of your firm, of your service if you bring it, so it should be like, “Well, what’s our strategy for bringing in clients? Well, what’s our strategy for increasing our inclusivity?”
See, diversity on its own does nothing. It really doesn’t. Diversity on its own accomplishes nothing and in fact, when it’s done poorly, it turns people off. It results in those clicks I was talking about but inclusion is what it leverages all those differences between people together but you need to get everybody on board. How do you get people on board? You make it just as important as your billables, just as important as your generating of files, needs to be that important. It needs to stand on its own. It needs to be incentivized, number one.
Number two, when you’re thinking about like affinity groups are a good example. That’s one thing people do but what of the affinity groups? It’s like, “Oh, women lawyers, LGBTQ lawyers, African-American Bar Association.” Well, you know what? Maybe instead of like separating by what makes us different, why don’t we come together with what makes us the same. Like everyone who loves action movies or everyone who loves ’80s hair metal or a potluck where everybody gets to — everyone likes to cook, everyone likes to eat and you share these things.
Instead of affinity groups being about what makes us different, why don’t we make them about what makes us the same on a personal level and guess what? Think about that potluck. I’m in the “we love to cook affinity group” at my firm and I’ll bring in something and we have people who represent a lot of different cultures and backgrounds. They bring in these great dishes I’ve never tried and it sparks this interest in their culture and their background and their perspective on things.
We’re always so focused on letting things stand aside and really, we need to focus on instead of that what brings us together, it needs to be about together because you know what? You could have — again coming back to how bad a quota is, you can come back and say, “Yeah, well you know 30%, 40%, 50% of our firm is underrepresented populations.” That’s great but you know what? This one sits there, this group sits there and this group sits there. This group handles these files like what good is that?
Carl Morrison: Right. Exactly right. Will, I’m coming to my least favorite part of the show especially talking to you. I hate this part of the show because I don’t want this to end but I got to wrap it up. So, I always have a fun question looking at all your background and stuff, it just hit me, I don’t know why I haven’t noticed this before and I noticed that you’re a Disney enthusiast and I was like, “Wait, I’m a fellow Disney fan.” I’m like, “How have I not talked to Will about this in the past?”
I have to know, this is my fun question for you. If you could be a Disney villain, who would you be and why?
William L. Murphy: Disney is my religion, Carl. That’s not an exaggeration. I gave the question some thought. I will say Gaston. I’ve always liked Gaston. He’s just such a goofy — you know why I like Gaston? Because he’s the complete opposite of who I am and it would be fun to see what it’s like to live like the other half. He is this ego maniacal vain nasty selfish brute and if I’m going to be a villain, hey, so you’re kind of owning up, I’m going to be bad for a day, I’d like to see what it would be like to be in Gaston’s shoes. Plus, if you’ve ever been to Magic Kingdom, sure you have.
Carl Morrison: Oh yeah.
William L. Murphy: If you’re a Disney enthusiast as I am, so the Gaston walk-around characters, good story here but I’ll make it quick. So, they interact with the guests and the visitors and one day, there’s a famous YouTube video, one guest challenged the guy playing Gaston to a push-up contest in the middle of Fantasyland and they both go down and the guy looked in pretty good shape, the guest, but Gaston just crushed him. Gaston’s pumping these things out like he’s a marine and then like the other guy kind of bows out pretty embarrassed with himself and then Gaston doesn’t stop. He starts doing one-handed push-ups, the actor playing Gaston.
So not only would it be nice to just have a totally different life experience for a day that’s so counter to how I am, see what it’s like to be a jerk and get away with it for the most part unless you’re courting Belle because that’s the only time it didn’t pay off for him, I’d also like to be able to do that many push-ups. So I’m going to say Gaston.
Carl Morrison: It’s funny because facially, I could see you doing a cosplay of Gaston. As a person, no, you do not strike me as a Gaston individual, so yeah, I get that. Me, because I’m a control freak and I can’t control everything, I would want to be a character like Dr. Facilier or Ursula or Maleficent who has the magic powers that try to control things. It never works out for any of them. They always fall but it’s like just to have some power just so I can control things more would be me. That’s just who I would be as a Disney villain.
William L. Murphy: Worked out for Maleficent and those Angelina Jolie retcons.
Carl Morrison: That’s right. Will, thank you so much for the conversation today and thank you for being a guest on the show. If anyone wanted to reach out to you, what’s the best way that they could contact you?
William L. Murphy: The best way would definitely be just Tweet at me. My handle is @profmurphysju and send me Tweets. I love it. That’s how Carl and I first connected between that and AAfPE. I’ve connected with a lot of great people both in paralegal education but also in the legal field through doing that, so I love people contacting me, reaching out to me and starting good conversations like this one, Carl.
Carl Morrison: I will tell you students that are out there or individuals that are contemplating going into a program, you want Professor Murphy to be your professor. He’s amazing. I want to go into one of your classes just because you make it so engaging for the students, so thank you for your work and what you do for the industry, so truly appreciate it.
Hang tight everyone, we will be right back after this break for station identification.
Looking for a process server you can trust? ServeNow.com is a nationwide network of local pre-screened process servers. ServeNow works with the most professional process servers in the industry, connecting your firm with process servers who embrace technology, have experience with high volume serves and understand the litigation process and rules of properly effectuating service. Find a pre-screened process server today. Visit http://www.servenow.com.
This episode of The Paralegal Voice is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience, so you can spend more time helping clients. Because they know that work sometimes happens after hours, CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Visit courtfiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
So everyone, I don’t have a mailbag question for today but if you do have questions, always feel free, comments, concerns, any topic ideas for the show, always send them to me at [email protected], that’s [email protected], and I love to hear from the listeners.
I was looking at my calendar, my planner and I have a couple of different electronic wise as well as an actual true paper planner that I use, a spiral bound planner and I was looking at the calendar for the next couple of weeks and I’m like, holy moly, I’m a busy boy. I’ve got a lot backed. I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be attending the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s Joint Conference, NFPA’s Joint Conference virtually, that’s June 11th through the 13th, so if you’re going to be attending, be sure and send me a note. We are actually that particular conference’s virtual, so it won’t be in person but feel free to look for me virtually at that conference and then I’m going to be presenting on certifications to the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations during their annual conference which is on June 26th. Then I’m going to be attending, of course, the wonderful NALA’s annual convention. It’s also virtual this year, July 22nd through the 24th and I know they’ve got amazing things packed and I know a ton of people have already registered but you still can register for that particular conference.
Later this year, I’m actually going to be also presenting with my cohort Kristine Custodio Suero at the International Practice Management Association’s annual conference in October 13th through the 15th, not quite sure if it’s virtual or in person but we’re both looking forward to presenting there and so, like I said, new listeners, Carl is going to be a very busy man and if you’re going to be attending any of these conferences whether it’s in person or virtually, say hi, send me a little chat button, chat feature in those virtual conferences and say hi and let me know you’re online or if we’re in person, come up and say hi. I always love connecting with my paralegal pals so be sure and do that, and that’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice.
If you have questions about today’s show or my guest, William Murphy, email them to me at [email protected] and stay tuned for more information in upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging and fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
Thank you for listening to The Paralegal Voice produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. If you’d like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com, find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or download Legal Talk Network’s free app in Google Play and iTunes and reminding you that I’m here to enhance your passion and dedication to the paralegal profession and make your paralegal voice heard.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
Notify me when there’s a new episode!
|Published:||June 4, 2021|
|Category:||Access to Justice , Diversity , Paralegal|
The Paralegal Voice provides career-success tips for paralegals of any experience level.