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Networking for Minority, Women, and Disabled Lawyers

Networking is even more essential for minority, women, and disabled lawyers. Despite affirmative action and workplace diversity programs, the reality is that there are still obstacles—attitudinal and otherwise—to the employment of these professionals. Hence, if you are a disadvantaged attorney, you will probably have to work harder to establish and maintain your network.

Country clubs and yacht clubs, preeminent locales for “old boy” networking activities, are still sometimes closed to disadvantaged groups. Even if they are de jure open, they are not likely to be very comfortable environments in the de facto world. A valuable alternative can be an in-city club, where you can take people to lunch and meet-and-greet. Such clubs may not have putting greens, but they have plenty of interesting members.

Expand your networking beyond members of your same disadvantaged group. Certainly, you can learn a lot from group members who have “gone before you.” It is worth asking them how they did it and attempting to emulate their success. But it is also important to go beyond your “comfort zone” because most group members have not yet broken through to the top in significant numbers.