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The Journal Gazette

May 02, 2016 10:00 PM

Bringing more diversity to the law

The need for greater diversity at all levels of the legal/judicial system is difficult to dispute. Bringing in more women, blacks and Hispanics has proven to be a particular challenge.

Allen Superior Court Judge Wendy Davis is one of those who wants to see the situation improve. Davis is participating in a state program designed to train and encourage minority law students.  

Davis, who is on the board of the Allen County Bar Association, has often argued that the face of justice needs to more closely resemble the increasingly diverse population it serves. Though women finally are making headway, there are few black and Hispanic attorneys in Fort Wayne or statewide.

“This does not represent the face of Indiana,” Davis wrote in an oped in February. “How can our neighbors trust fully in their right to justice when the legal system bears so little resemblance to them?”

For the second straight year, Davis’ office has named a minority intern.  As The Journal Gazette’s Ron Shawgo reported recently, the internship will be funded with a grant from the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity’s Gateway to Diversity. The program is open to minority, low-income or educationally disadvantaged students who have graduated from college and are pursuing a law degree.

Internship programs are but one piece of the puzzle. The three-year-old Indiana Tech Law School and other law schools around the state must cultivate diverse student bodies.

Parents and teachers have to encourage minority young people to help change the perception of our judicial system by working to become lawyers. 

But internship programs like Davis’ are a step forward.