About MSBA

Welcome to MSBA's Diversity & Inclusion 

MSBA's diversity department mission is to promote and advocate for the diversification and inclusion of historically underrepresented attorneys through out the organization and within all areas of the legal profession.

MSBA's diversity and inclusion efforts are led by its Director, Danielle Shelton Walczak. To learn more about her, click here.

Featured D&I News

  • MSBA's Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council is highlighted in the Minnesota Lawyer

    We are proud of the work we have done here in creating the new Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council. We are also very proud of the members of this inaugural council. We got an opportunity through the Minnesota Lawyer to tell the legal community at large what the Leadership Council is about. You can read a PDF of the article here. If you have a subscription to the Minnesota Lawyer, you can read the article here.
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  • Equal treatment always needs champions of feather ruffling

    This week the Star Tribune published an article about Minnesota's first black female attorney, Lena Olive Smith. Born in 1885 in Lawrence Kansas, she received her law degree in 1921 from William Mitchell College of Law predecessor, Northwestern College of Law. Her advocacy in the 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond (Ms. Smith practiced until the day she died in her 80s) for equality and fair treatment may seem far away. However, the Star Tribune suggest that it's not. In 1937 Ms. Smith took on a case where a black man named Curtis Jones was beaten with fists and flashlights by two white off-duty officers. These issues, highlighted once again in our current consciousness by Ferguson, have not abated to the dismay of justice-minded Americans. When Ms. Smith was asked about her fearless advocacy during the height of legally imposed racial inequity she said, I’m from the West and fearless. I’m used to doing the right thing without regard for myself. Of course, battles leave their scars, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice. I think it is my duty. Whether it's 1921 or 2015 its fair to say that Ms. Smith speaks for all the advocates for equal justice and treatment.

    photo credit: Minnesota Historical Society
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  • Recommended Reading | The Atlantic: The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration

    What happens to the familial and social construct particularly as it pertains to the most incarcerated race in American history? You'll find out in The Atlantic's cover story for its October issue, The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration. The statistics cited in the article will throw you on your heels. The national ramification of our incarceration policies should leave you pause. Hopefully, the string of relevancy between America's slave history and current incarceration policies will appear. Whether your are an attorney, mother, CEO, student, laborer, or politician...the degradation of familial construct effects what you see, hear, and experience as you go through your day, if you're paying attention. The question this article leaves the reader with is the following, "Is the pursuit of safety really making us safer in the criminal and cultural contexts."

    photo credit: The Atlantic
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  • Still more evidence that diversity is the economic differentiator in profitable businesses

    Diversity advocates have been arguing the business case for diversity for years. They have been saying diversity equates to economic advantage. Over time, more and more data confirms the truth of this, such as the McKinsey & Company’s report, Diversity Matters released in February 2015. Their research bore out that: “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Most importantly, "In the United States, there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent." Diversity is a differentiation when it comes to business economics. Follow the link above to read the report in its entirety. To read a summary of the report (where the above quotes and graphics originated) go to the McKinsey and Company website.  

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  • MSBA Leaders and Staff Attend Multicultural Reception

    Last night MSBA leadership and staff attended William Mitchell and Hamline Law School's Multicultural and International Student Reception. In attendance from MSBA were: Tim Groshens, Executive Director; Paul Godfrey, Secretary and in-line for the MSBA presidency; Sherri Knuth, Government Relations and Member Engagement Director; Mike Carlson, Membership Recruitment Director; and Danielle Shelton Walczak, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

    Present at the reception were law students ranging from 1L-3Ls and staff from both institutions, the new president of Hamline and the new dean of William Mitchell. Student's heard a impassioned plea to be the attorneys they would want to have representing them, which included being guided by ethical standards and sense of good. They were also told that they deserved to be students at these institutions, nothing was just handed to them, and to progress they would have to work for the life they want.

    It was an exciting and well attended event.
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  • Diversity and Leadership Council gives first Assembly Report

    On Wednesday, September 17 the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council gave its first diversity report to the assembly during the assembly's first meeting of the 2015-16 bar year (the MSBA assembly is the association's policy making body, comprising approximately 120 members).

    Stakeholder representatives who collaborated in putting together the D&I Council, believed the group should have immediate access to bar leadership. This way diversity issues and efforts could be ever present in the mind of the association's leaders. One of the way the stakeholder representatives sought to accomplish the latter was requiring D&I Council efforts to be a standing agenda item for each assembly meeting. This desire came to fruition for the first time this week when Tom Nelson, a partner at Stinson Leonard Street and D&I Council member provided an oral report to the assembly.
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  • The Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council has its brainstorming session

    The MSBA's new Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council had its first brainstorming session at Stinson Leonard Street this past Tuesday, September 1. The meeting lasted approximately four hours. The Council has been tasked with creating a plan that will outline their work for the next 2-5 years. The planning session was led by Court of Appeals Judge, Peter Reyes. Judge Reyes has extensive planning experience through his leadership in the national and state Hispanic Bar Associations as wellJudge Peter Reyes as his prior work at Cargill. Members of the D&I Council walked away with sense of explored creativity, accomplishment, and excitement surrounding their next steps and the future of the group. 
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  • MSBA hosts its First Annual State of Diversity

    On July 16, 2015 MSBA hosted its first annual State of Diversity event. It took place at the American Swedish Institute, where members and non-members alike, interested stakeholders, staff and friends gathered to learn how the first year of implementation went in regards to the association's diversity related initiatives. Of the 30 initiatives outlined in MSBA's 2014-17 strategic plan, 15 were implemented the first year to varying results which were discussed briefly at the event. More detailed analysis will follow in the MSBA's year end report, which will be posted here on the site. 
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