Winston Churchill had famously said that –“Diversity is one true thing we all have in common, celebrate it every day.”
Legal profession is said to have emerged in the middle of the 12th century and it became more prominent during the 13th century as generally agreed by various academic researchers and ancient books. In the early years of legal professionalism there were only two types of lawyers – the serjeants and attorneys. Serjeants were pleaders who spoke for the clients while attorneys handled procedural matters.
Since then, legal profession has evolved all over the world. It has achieved major accomplishments and established for itself a community of the various categories of people practicing law. As the legal profession is growing, debates and questions on the diversity in the legal system are arising as well. Diversity in the legal system is quite vital because it is imperative for the legal system to be in consistence with the progress, which human society made not only economically but also, socially and culturally.
Unity in diversity in essence means social harmony. The population in general is in constant engagement with people who might be “different” to them in terms of religion, race, caste, class, gender or language etc. in every sphere of life and through modern means like information technology or social media etc. Over time, diversity is not anymore a harder thing for the society to live with and rather a detrimental thing to be without. Unit in diversity is not considered something exotic or foreign. Our unique capability to accomplish it smoothly is a major success of human civilization, which contributed largely to its success.
Coming back to the law, which dynamically seeks to shift and evolve itself to accommodate the gradual changes in our demographic makeup. Those who represent the law must also shift as well. It is logical to say that everyday people belonging to various social, economic and cultural background approach lawyers and other people involved in the legal system to help them with their legal matters. It accordingly makes sense that the legal profession has diversified groups, so that problems of the people belonging to various groups could be understood better if people belonging to such groups are also a part of the legal community. Diversity represents reality.
Another benefit of diversity in the legal system is that it attracts creativity and skill. If an idea is presented to a diverse group of people, it would lead to more discussions and ideas as compared to the same homogeneous group of people. People from different backgrounds would have different takes on the various ways to handle a situation which in turn, would lead to emergence of newer ideas. Hence, diversity breeds innovation.
Highly successful tech companies like Google and Amazon that pride themselves of having a very diverse workforce is another great example importance of diversity. This is because they choose their employees on the basis of merit and individual capabilities rather than their socio-economic background. Skilled and ambitious graduates are more attracted towards work environments where there are people from different backgrounds. This results in formation of opinions that divert from the norms, which further leads to broadening of horizons and ideas. Having a diverse work force shows employees of a firm and contesting candidates that it values skill and work ethic more than the background to which one belongs. This in turn increases employee satisfaction, and results in better work results that improves the goodwill of the workplace. In contrast, workplaces which do not appreciate diversity and prefer the old-school ideas will be given less importance not only by these fresh graduates but also by it’s employees.
Furthermore, diversity in the legal system, especially among the legal professionals would automatically attract more clients. Simply by being able to reach more people from different backgrounds by virtue of inclusion of diversity in the workforce would open up the firms and even individual practitioners to a larger client base, which would otherwise be extremely difficult to reach out to.
Diversity is also vital to the legitimacy of judicial system and rule of law. Diversity in the legal system strengthens the belief of the people in the fair delivery of justice by the judiciary, regardless of the background of the plaintiff or the defendant. If our justice system does not adequately reflect the diversity of our community, its present questionable credibility and non – discriminatory nature might be open to some question especially, by some of those who are a minority and might erroneously carry a misimpression that their views and problems are not being taken into account or justice is not being delivered to them rightly.
Inclusion of diversity is crucial for growth in not just legal profession, just as in other spheres of life because diversity enables people of different backgrounds with varying ideas and opinions to mingle with each other, which helps them to innovate new ideas and grow together as a community. Inclusiveness is not only beneficial to the diversity but also to the workplace as without diversity, or else it would become a struggle to brainstorm ideas without which a firm’s growth is stunted. Diversity also benefits lawyers and judiciary because interaction with fellow lawyers and judges from different backgrounds edifies them on the different perspectives of law and life. This helps them perform their jobs better keeping in mind the backgrounds of the clients and their problems which they are dealing with. A broadened understanding of diversity and its impact enables the people involved in the legal system to understand their clients better and become well – rounded individuals both professionally and generally.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed are strictly personal.)