About the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion
"All Utahns deserve to have trust and confidence that the rule of law endures and that they can expect help and fairness when things go wrong in their lives. That trust is enhanced when the legal profession and the judicial system reflect the same breadth and diversity of the people they serve. The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is committed to pursuing every avenue it can to make that aspiration a reality."
"I am thrilled to join former Justice Christine Durham in this effort to make our legal system more reflective of Utah's people and our reputation as a 'welcoming state.' Justice Durham was a trailblazer in this effort and UCLI could not have a better leader and role model. Although important strides have been taken, we still have much work to do to encourage women and minorities to enter and succeed in the field of law."
-- Justice Christine M. Durham (Ret.)
UCLI Founder and Co-Chair
-- Francis M. Wikstrom
UCLI Founder and Co-Chair
To realize the values that comprise the foundation of our American legal system – fairness, representation, access to justice, and equality before the law, among others – it is imperative that the legal profession be reflective of the communities it sets out to serve.
Utah’s bar and bench severely lack such representation. This scarcity of diverse representation negatively affects the ability of our legal institutions to administer justice in a fair and equitable manner and signals to members of Utah’s diverse communities that their interests and voices are neither valued nor welcome. Because law is such a powerful mechanism for protecting the aims of justice and effecting meaningful structural change, the impacts that stem from a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Utah’s legal profession inevitably come to weigh upon our society as a whole.
UCLI aims to play a critical role in resolving these issues. By coordinating with the Utah State Bar and its affinity groups, legal employers, government agencies, educational institutions, businesses, and community partners, UCLI strives to enhance organizational inclusion, facilitate educational opportunities and professional advancement for students and attorneys with diverse backgrounds, assist in eliminating bias in Utah’s justice system, and track the progress of legal inclusion efforts throughout the state. Through programs and initiatives such as these, UCLI is working every day to advance diverse representation and bring about an equitable and inclusive future for Utah’s legal institutions and justice system.
UCLI’s core programs and initiatives include:
- Building a strong pipeline of attorneys from Utah’s diverse communities through individualized mentoring, educational scholarships, and advancement assistance;
- Providing employers with resources, policies, training, and best practices for attracting, retaining, and advancing diverse legal talent;
- Researching and tracking local and national progress on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession; and
- Collaborating with community organizations and legal institutions such as courts, firms, and the Utah State Bar on issues related to the administration of and access to justice.
See “What We Do” for more information.
BACKGROUND & HISTORY
According to the American Bar Association, law remains one of the least diverse professions nationwide. This reality holds true to an even greater extent in our home state. Over the course of the twentieth century, Utah’s legal profession made great strides toward including people of various backgrounds, including women and racial minorities. Between 1872 and 1975, the Utah State Bar admitted ninety-one women, and the next year an additional twenty-eight women graduated, which helped the Bar push past the mark of one hundred women attorneys. The first minority attorney in Utah was admitted to practice in 1909, and by 1980, fifty minority attorneys had been admitted.
Yet despite these important milestones, Utah’s legal profession has continued to be largely unreflective of the evolving composition of the state. According to the 2010 census, 49.8% of Utah’s population were female. In 2016 follow-up surveys, 22.8% of Utahns reported belonging to one or more racial minority group. In addition, Census Bureau projections estimate the proportion of racial minorities in Utah will grow to 30% of the population by 2050. Yet, a 2011 Dan Jones survey of Utah State Bar members showed only 24% were female and only 7% identified as racial minorities. We recognize that race and gender are not the only relevant categories, but statistics for ability, orientation, religion, and other demographics are more difficult to obtain. Nonetheless, the available statistics demonstrate the fact that Utah’s legal profession continues to grapple with problems of homogeneity, underrepresentation, and the access to justice issues these conditions raise.
Two years ago, then Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham, Francis Wikstrom of Parsons Behle & Latimer, and more than a dozen other distinguished leaders of the Utah legal community identified a need for a statewide nonprofit organization focused on addressing these concerns through comprehensive and intensive efforts geared at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Utah’s legal profession. It was in this spirit that the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) was formed.