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Law Firm DEI through the lens of Belonging


I’ll be having morning coffee with other lawyers in Kansas City, Missouri, where I’ve practiced law since 1985, at both large and small firms.  I’m a 63 year-old White guy, straight, cis, and reasonably abled.  The lawyers with whom I’ll be chatting over coffee are different than me, in one or more of these ways.  And I’ll be listening to what they tell me about Belonging at work, as they’ve experienced it in their own professional lives as lawyers.  With their permission, I’ll share what they tell me in this blog.  And because trust is essential for such candid conversations, they will have prior-review of the resulting posts.

Why do this?  My identity means that I was handed Belonging at birth, on a platter.  I have rarely (until recent years) been in any professional or personal situation in which I did not feel that I belonged, simply by reason of my race, gender, and other attributes assigned to me.  If Belonging were baseball, I was born on base.  I’ve seldom needed to be intentional about my Belonging – it’s just been there, in my invisible knapsack of privilege (if that word irritates, substitute “advantage” or “entitlement”).  And so, as with most things taken for granted, I don’t truly understand how Belonging actually works, what obstacles stand in the way for others, and how they have had to manage and surmount those obstacles in their professional lives.

Also, to be frank, I’m personally not very good at Belonging.  I’m an introvert; I struggle to connect faces with names; I frequently use lame humor to distance myself socially; and I don’t put in consistent effort to stay connected with others.  Again, if Belonging were baseball, I was born on base … but I often can’t find my way home.

I have much to learn, and I’m looking forward to this.  In the mix, especially in early posts, I’ll share some context for what Belonging is, how it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and why a better understanding of how to practice Belonging is important for our law firms.  But mostly, these posts will center the voices of other lawyers, from whom I hope to learn a lot about Belonging.