There’s an old adage: If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.
I was reminded of this phrase recently as controversy trickled up about a statement of principles lawyers will be required to sign. The issue is, admittedly, complex.
All licensed lawyers and paralegals will be required to write and sign a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
For some, this feels insulting, controlling or overbearing and is tantamount to having their thoughts policed.
It pains me to say those complaining about this requirement are, in some ways, technically correct and the requirement may slightly overstep in terms of requiring people to adopt and abide by the principles, without more detail on how such goals can be implemented.
Therefore, the document’s detractors are correct: Requiring people to have a statement of principles will not mean people actually work to promote diversity. People don’t like feeling forced to do things.
However, the spirit of the document persists — issues around diversity in the profession (which are, in my view, very well placed) have never been under closer scrutiny.
Therefore, those kicking up a fuss about ticking a box are choosing to complain about a process that takes minimal time and minimal effort. How I wish they had taken the time to complain about this to improve diversity within their own firms or listen to other lawyers’ experiences, as well as foster more positive, open dialogue about how to improve the situation.
People are allowed to take stands on issues that matter to them. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that listening to others should be the first step. An insurrection of a me-first attitude is depressing, dis-spiriting and, frankly, makes the profession look petty. For shame. For absolute shame.