At Chartwell Law, we value the experiences and viewpoints of all of our attorneys and staff. We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion foster both innovation and a better understanding of ourselves and our clients.
As we continue our celebration of Black History Month, this week we feature Attorney Mark Nooth of our Boston, Massachusetts office. Mark shares his views on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in his personal and professional life and discusses his views on Black History Month.
Is there a specific experience or Black figure you were influenced by during your childhood?
As a child, I was particularly inspired by the writings and biography of W.E.B. Du Bois. His work in sociology as it related to not only the black experience but the experience of people of color everywhere in the world broadened my view of the world beyond my immediate experience and inspired my lifelong interest in sociology. His work in history was also one of my major sources for an extensive research project I conducted into the history of the Reconstruction period during my final year of high school, which to this day remains the piece of scholarship I am most proud of producing.
How do you view the importance of diversity and inclusion in today’s workplace?
I view diversity and inclusion in the workplace as an essential component of open and honest communication between coworkers, which in turn fosters a collegiate work culture based on trust and mutual respect (something that is regrettably rare in much of the legal profession). In practical terms, this means promoting a workplace culture in which people of every background can feel comfortable in sharing their lived experiences and articulating areas in which they would like to see change or improvement based on those experiences.
The workplace is a team effort, and all members of that team should feel that they have a chance to speak and to be heard without fear of judgment, and regardless of their particular positions in the hierarchy.
What diversity and inclusion changes would you like to see in the future of the legal industry?
Before the legal industry can move forward on diversity and inclusion, I would like to see it do more to contend with its past on these issues. For example, I believe it is long overdue for the profession to have a serious conversation about the continued viability of the bar exam, given its history of being used as a means to exclude women, people of color, religious minorities, and immigrants from the legal profession. Based on such a history, there is a compelling argument for the abolishment of the bar exam from a perspective of diversity and inclusion, particularly where it statistically still acts to disproportionately exclude people of color from the profession. However, such a reform would require hard work and serious conversations among the profession. It is easy for law firms and law schools to retweet #BlackLivesMatter, it is harder but infinitely more useful for them to reform the ways in which institutions like the bar exam operate in order to foster true diversity and inclusion within the profession. Acta non verba.