Diversity & Inclusion

Championing Justice, Equality, and Professionalism

Our Diversity Enriches Us, Our Inclusion Empowers Us

The MSBA recognizes diversity as a core value and defines it as “recognizing the power of diversity of persons, viewpoints, beliefs, and human understanding.”

MSBA’s two principal goals in the area of diversity and inclusion are:

  1. Making the MSBA a model for diversity within all areas of the organization.
  2. Supporting the work of Minnesota’s affinity bar associations. 

MSBA 2017-2020 Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan

D&I News

Minnesota State Bar Association, Hennepin County Bar Association, Ramsey County Bar Association, and Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association Statement on George Floyd
On Monday, May 25, 2020, video footage circulated of the violent killing of George Floyd in an incident involving Minneapolis police officers. In the video, a Minneapolis police officer is seen kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over five minutes, while Mr. Floyd repeatedly states, “I can’t breathe.” We write today to join in the grief and anger over the fact and manner of Mr. Floyd's death, to pledge that his death will be honored and not forgotten, and to commit ourselves to the continuing effort to bring justice to the fore, for Mr. Floyd and his family and friends, of course; but also for our shared community. The Minnesota bar associations, and the legal profession itself, are dedicated to the Rule of Law, equal justice for all, and the dignity and sanctity of human life.

More than just an isolated incident, Mr. Floyd’s killing highlights an ongoing problem. In a state and country devastated by the deaths of Black and Brown people at the hands of police officers, drastic changes are needed in our approach to public safety. The Minnesota State Bar Association, Hennepin County Bar Association, Ramsey County Bar Association and the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association support the equal administration of justice for all, and to that end, envision a Minnesota where law enforcement personnel are held to a standard of treating all individuals with dignity.
Just as the legal profession is charged with promoting and delivering the principles of equal justice in our communities, the police must promote and deliver the principles of equal justice and administration of justice for all people. Acts of misconduct against people of color reduce the public’s trust in police, the police force and the administration of justice. If a Black man in south Minneapolis can be brutally choked by law enforcement, whose motto is to protect with courage and to serve with compassion, no individual should feel safe.

The Bar Associations call on Governor Walz and all other public officials and law enforcement agencies across the state to actively confront the systems and cultures within their police departments that have repeatedly allowed people of color to be brutalized and killed.

The Bar Associations also recognize that the rule of law needs to protect us all and must exist at all levels of our justice system. We support the lawyers, judges and other court personnel who will work on all sides of this issue to ensure that the constitutional rights of all involved are respected and justice is achieved.

The Bar Associations envision a state where no person must fear the police and where arrest and use of force by law enforcement are last resorts, not first options. The peace and well-being of our community relies on trust in our system of justice. We pledge to participate in the healing that must come after the events of the past week, and to lift and support the voices and actions of others working toward the goals of equal access to justice and equal administration of public safety for all people. The Bar Associations further renew their commitment to their vision of being leaders in achieving equal justice for all.

MSBA Issues Statement Regarding Asian Discrimination During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) denounces the increase in racist attacks and xenophobic profiling against members of the Asian-American community in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid public fear and panic about the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been increasing reports across the country of attacks targeting Asian Americans, linked to racist assumptions about COVID-19. For example, a woman wearing a face mask in New York City was punched and called “diseased”; two Hmong men in Plymouth, Indiana were denied service at hotels due to the false assumption that they were Chinese and carrying COVID-19; and an Asian family in Texas was targeted during a knife attack while grocery shopping, and both the father and son were cut badly across their faces. Likewise, a growing number of racist incidents against Asian-American students, parents, and families are being reported in our communities here in Minnesota.

The fact that COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China has at times led to Asian Americans being stereotyped as infected with the virus, and this racist assumption hurts Asian American communities all over the country. These and other racist attacks harm Asian American communities and the larger community by stoking animus between groups when it is important to be as cooperative as possible. Furthermore, these violent incidents recall past attacks that have remained a permanent stain in U.S. history. We must denounce anti-Asian bias and racial intolerance and stop it from becoming normalized.
As part of this effort, the MSBA urges the media and community leaders to help stop the spread of xenophobia and misinformation by encouraging all community members to share only confirmed and verifiable information about COVID-19, how it spreads, and what actions we can take to ensure the best protection for everyone. In addition, the MSBA encourages providing information about all measures that impact Asian American communities in multiple languages so that those who are limited English proficient are able to access important information in a timely manner.

COVID-19 does not discriminate by race. The harm caused by COVID-19 will be greater if we allow it to divide us, and eradicating the virus will depend on our ability to work together.

MSBA encourages anyone who encounters or witnesses attacks or harassment to report it to 911 immediately and request language assistance from law enforcement entities if needed. Reports can be made to the
Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) at 651-539-1133, or info.MDHR@state.mn.us.

The MSBA Diversity and Inclusion Council is seeking new members! Contact Athena Hollins at ahollins@mnbars.org if you are interested.

Diversity and Inclusion Recruitment Flyer

Learn more about the MSBA's 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Conference.
Access materials and the April 1st Schedule!

Biennial Diversity and Inclusion Conference Flyer

MSBA Issues Statement Regarding the End of the DACA Program

In light of the announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be ended in six months, the Minnesota State Bar Association urges Congress to act quickly to pass legislation that provides a fair, orderly and safe way ahead for the young people affected by this change. The announced suspension of the DACA program without a ready legislative solution threatens the future of thousands of deserving people to pursue their dreams, and places them in danger of deportation. It also threatens our country’s access to a wealth of human potential.

The MSBA believes immigration reform should include a path to lawful permanent residency or U.S. citizenship for undocumented persons who entered the United States as minors and have developed significant ties to the United States while displaying good moral character and passing security screening.

Frequently referred to as Dreamers, the more than 800,000 people who entered the DACA program, including over 6,000 in the State of Minnesota, have significantly contributed to our country both economically and through industry innovation. Indeed, an open letter signed by hundreds of the nation’s top business leaders pointed out that Dreamers contribute $460.3 billion to the national gross domestic product and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.

In addition to the economic reasons, the humanitarian motivation for the DACA program is compelling. Dreamers came to this country as children and have embraced this country as their home. To send them back to a foreign land that many do not even remember would be inconsistent with the values on which America was founded.

MSBA Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit

We hope this Toolkit will be a useful resource for MSBA sections and committees as they integrate diversity and inclusion strategies into all MSBA initiatives. Diversity and inclusion are inextricably linked to the MSBA's continued efforts to offer innovative solutions and cutting edge programming for all lawyers in Minnesota. The MSBA sees diversity and inclusion as opportunities to improve the resources we provide to our members and to find the answers and solutions that our members need as they practice law in the 21st century.

D&I Resources