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2020 Salsman Award

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 6, 2020


By Michael Lee              2020 SCCBA President


Nothing says, “This is your country too,” like a law that prevents your parents from owning property because your mother was born in Japan. When Richard Schramm was a toddler, his parents left Wyoming to live in Oregon because Wyoming law prevented his parents from owning property due to his mother’s Japanese ethnicity.


Richard is this year’s recipient of the Salsman Award. During his acceptance speech, he shared about this experience and how he is personally invested in advocating for diversity and inclusion in our legal profession. For almost 30 years, Richard has served as a member of the SCCBA’s Labor-Employment Law section, including as it Chairperson. He will Chair the committee once more in 2021 and has also served as a member of the SCCBA’s Board of Trustees, the Board’s Finance Committee, Chair and Presiding Arbitrator for the Fee Arbitration Committee, Member of the Rainbow and Diversity Committees, and as a Delegate to the American Bar Association.


It may be hard to believe that blatantly racist laws personally impacted people we know today. But discrimination and outright racism is not a historical note. It has and does directly impact people we know today. The blatant discrimination of the past has a ripple effect on subsequent thoughts and behavior. New metrics like Harvard’s Implicit Association Test have shown that all of us hold biases against different social groups. We are often even biased against our own groups.


It's now commonly accepted social science that young white men are evaluated for promotion based on potential while all other groups are promoted based on proven past leadership. So what we need to create a more level playing field is more women and minorities at the top right? However, “research suggests, it is women and nonwhites themselves who often impede the advancement of their own peers. They do not advocate for them when positions come open or there is an opportunity for a promotion, and they do not provide the mentorship and support that everybody needs to navigate their careers successfully.” Why is this? How do we address bias that is so deeply ingrained that we discriminate against ourselves?


Please join me in congratulating Richard for his award and in thanking him for his service to our legal community. Please join me in tackling the issue of increasing diversity and inclusion within our profession by having an honest discussion about the issues and the solutions. Please increase the size of our discussion pool by inviting your colleagues to join the Bar Association. 

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