JAMS has been at the forefront of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the legal industry for many years. With alternative dispute resolution (ADR) being such an integral part of the legal system, our goals as an industry leader are to be innovative when promoting DE&I and to make bolder strides to increase diversity in the legal profession. Because April is Celebrate Diversity Month, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of our recent DE&I initiatives that we are incredibly proud of. Of course, we don’t celebrate diversity for just one month; we promote it all year long.
A top priority for JAMS for many years has been building a more diverse panel of neutrals. Traditionally, a majority of the JAMS panel has been made up of retired judges, and that cohort was not particularly diverse. As the judiciary and the legal profession in general becomes more diverse, we have significantly improved the diversity of our panel and have been setting increasingly aggressive goals to boost “diversity with a capital D” in all classes of under-represented groups.
At the end of March, JAMS signed the Ray Corollary Initiative (RCI) pledge, which is a nationwide effort aimed at increasing DE&I in the selection of arbitrators, mediators and other ADR neutrals. The initiative has specific objectives, including the placement of diverse neutrals on strike lists. JAMS applauds and in fact has exceeded the goal outlined by the initiative, which encourages the placement of four diverse neutrals (in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation) on arbitration lists that consist of seven or more neutrals.
Using Technology to Measure and Make Progress
Being able to help clients (in-house and outside counsel) measure their DE&I progress is something we’ve prioritized. In order to maximize DE&I efforts within ADR, it is important for clients and providers to work together. The JAMS Neutral Utilization Report is a tool that does just that. It leverages the information obtained through the JAMS database and provides a confidential report for our clients to monitor and track their DE&I achievements in the form of neutral selection data.
Another way we’ve used technology to advance our DE&I efforts is with a recent website update. With over 400 neutrals on our JAMS panel, we want to make it easy for clients to locate our diverse neutrals on our website. Our website now incorporates a filter to seek out diverse neutrals based on self-identification with just a few clicks.
In order to provide this essential information regarding diversity on the JAMS panel, we conducted an internal survey of neutrals to encourage them to self-identify as to specific demographics, such as gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We have also recently added veteran and disability classifications to this survey and will update the search function to feature the new additions later this year.
Looking Back and Forging Ahead
In 2016, JAMS was one of the first organizations to sign the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge. We took that a step further with the introduction of the JAMS Diversity and Inclusion Clause for Arbitration Agreements and Contracts. The clause, established in 2018, promotes inclusivity in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation within the dispute resolution field. The clause states that parties agree to seek a fair representation of diverse arbitrators (in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation), and it requests that administering institutions include a fair representation of diverse candidates on their rosters and lists of potential arbitrator appointees. JAMS was the first major ADR provider to create such a clause, and it has since been adopted by other organizations within the industry.
While we are proud of where we’ve been, we’re also thrilled at where we are going. One of JAMS' more recent initiatives is its Diversity Fellowship Program. The program is designed to provide training, mentorship, sponsorship and networking opportunities to up-and-coming diverse ADR professionals. JAMS panelists serve as mentors for the fellows and facilitate shadowing actual cases. During the course of the program, our marketing team creates a practice development plan and provides the fellows with marketing opportunities.
Finally, the JAMS Supplier Diversity Policy, scheduled to roll out this year, will encourage our preferred vendors to demonstrate that they are committed to promoting diversity in their own organizations. Supporting and developing a diverse supply chain of minority-owned, women-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, veteran-owned and disabled-owned businesses contributes to the economy, to the community we serve and to a strong business model. Diversifying our supply chain plays an important role in carrying out JAMS’ DE&I vision. The Supplier Diversity Policy will actively and routinely seek qualified diverse suppliers that can provide high-quality products and services to JAMS. JAMS business partners that do not qualify as diverse suppliers will be encouraged to exhibit their support of DE&I.
Dedication to Diversity
DE&I programs can’t be effective unless they are pervasive and meaningful. JAMS is passionate about promoting DE&I in the broadest way possible. And while we understand that real change often comes slowly, we are dedicated to creating innovative initiatives and working with key stakeholders in order create positive change within the legal industry. I look forward to continuing to measure our progress. We have made great strides, but there’s always more work to do.
This page is for general information purposes. JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness. Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More