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Celebrating Diversity’s Power

A standing-room-only crowd considers the impact of inclusion on the profession.

Photographs by Erika Craven ’20 and Vicki Sanders

The American population is diversifying and the legal profession needs more attorneys who understand subtle but complex cultural nuances to better serve a wider clientele. On November 29, more than 130 members of the Boston College Law community gathered to recognize that embracing differences is a necessity in today’s legal market, and not just icing on the cake.

“Here at Boston College Law School, we take pride in our community and strive to promote a culture that welcomes and encourages all students to take part,” Marcus Nemeth ’19, president of the BC Law Student Association, told the audience at the law school’s Celebration of Diversity event.

Nemeth, who was the only African-American male in his entering class, said embracing diversity—be it differences in race, religion, gender, sexuality, identity, or thought—is not only essential to equality and justice generally, but is also fundamental to the administration and practice of law.

“It is imperative that as a community we reject harmful rhetoric that undermines the value of diversity when it appears on our campus,” he said.

“Diverse firms and partners in diverse firms make more money and are more profitable than are firms that are less diverse,” said speaker Benjamin R. Sigel, New England regional president of the Hispanic National Bar Association and director of Client and Community Relations at Mintz Levin. “The legal world needs your diversity.”

Reflecting on his childhood when he had been “picked on” for being both Jewish and Hispanic, Sigel stressed the importance of remaining positive, authentic, and respectful but vocal in one’s diversity to “move the needle and celebrate diversity and inclusion.”

“All of you in this room right now are friends and allies just by being in this room,” he said. “You’ve got to use your network now to help move that ball forward.”

Other speakers at the event shared their personal experiences of navigating law school and the legal profession as a minority race and as a member of the LGBT community.

The event was a joint effort among more than a dozen law school organizations and the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Organizations co-sponsoring the event included: the BC LSA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee; American Constitution Society; Asian Pacific American Law Students Association; BC Law Democrats; Black Law Students Association; Immigration Law Group, Jewish Law Students Association; LAMBDA Law Students Association; Latin American Law Students Association; Middle Eastern Law Students Association; Native American Law Student Association; South Asian Law Students Association; the National Lawyers Guild; and the Women’s Law Center.