State Bar of Wisconsin Modifies Legal Definition of Diversity

To settle a federal lawsuit, the association in Wisconsin that represents lawyers has consented to changing how “diversity” is defined. The conservative legal company challenged the association’s internship program in court, arguing that it engaged in racial discrimination and so violated the constitution.

Following the settlement, the State Bar of Wisconsin has declared that its “diversity clerkship program” would remain unchanged.

Attorney Daniel Suhr sued the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) last year, claiming that WILL’s diversity clerkship program was biased against him. Members of the State Bar have pledged their unwavering support for the initiative.

The Bar said on Thursday that it would further define diversity and agreed on a partial settlement with WILL.

According to the preceding definition, diversity encompasses many different things, including but not limited to racial/ethnic/national/religious/gender/orientation/disability categories.

The new definition does not directly mention gender, orientation, or race.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which launched the action in December, said in a news statement that it had succeeded in shifting State Bar dues away from racial programs and policies toward those that value diversity of thought and merit.

Many lawsuits have been filed against nationwide governmental and commercial sector diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives. These cases have arisen due to the June verdict by the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared racial considerations in college admissions irrelevant and abolished affirmative action.

Among other things, the original Wisconsin program’s concept of diversity included racial and ethnic background and gender identity. The updated definition stresses the significance of including people with varied traits, perspectives, interests, and life experiences.

The conservative legal company has stipulated in the agreement that the bar association must clarify in all program-related documents that racial factors are not considered when deciding who may participate.

According to the legal company, the bar association does not have the authority to mandate that only law students from underrepresented groups, those with a history of discrimination in the legal profession, or those who have experienced societal disadvantages be considered.

The program is specifically tailored for law school students from historically underrepresented groups at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The complaint said, however, that the program’s original goal of increasing racial diversity among government, private sector, and law firm attorneys has now been sidetracked.

Over the last 30 years, the program has funded some 600 internships, according to the bar organization.