This will not be a typical Government Contracts Navigator post. But it concerns an issue as important to the government contracts bar as any new law, regulation, or judicial decision. We all have stories about how we came to practice in this vibrant field, which plays such a critical role in protecting our nation and advancing the public policies of the United States—including due process, fair competition, and equal opportunity. But we cannot ignore the reality that the great diversity of the government contracts law practice is not well-reflected in our bar of practitioners.
The events of recent weeks have led us to think hard about we what can do to help achieve greater racial diversity in our practice area. As lawyers, we typically solve the most complex problems we face by developing creative teams whose members are open to learning, collaborating, and communicating. That is why, as a practice group, we’ve jumped at the chance to participate in the ABA Section of Public Contract Law’s 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge (the “21-Day Challenge”). We believe that the 21-Day Challenge gives us an opportunity to learn, collaborate, and communicate with one another on one of the most pressing and important challenges in our professional lives: creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive government contracts bar. Our practice group is “all in,” and we invite you to join us as we answer the ABA Section of Public Contract Law’s invitation to participate in the 21-Day Challenge.
What Is the 21-Day Challenge?
The 21-Day Challenge is a 21-day syllabus of daily reading assignments or videos to watch. As the chair of the Section of Public Contract Law has explained: “The 21-Day Challenge was conceived of several years ago by diversity expert Eddie Moore, Jr. to advance deeper understandings of the intersections of race, power, privilege, supremacy, and oppression. A number of other ABA groups have undertaken similar 21-Day Challenges.”
What Is the Focus of the Section of Public Contract Law’s 21-Day Challenge?
The 21 daily assignments focus specifically on the Black American experience, including perspectives on Black history, identity and culture, and the experience of anti-Black racism in America. Additionally, several assignments focus on the unique experience of Black lawyers in America. Importantly, a number of the daily assignments are designed to get us thinking about how lawyers of all races can and must share in the work of bringing greater racial equity and real inclusion to the legal profession.
What Is the Goal of the 21-Day Challenge?
The chair of the ABA Section of Public Contract Law explained that the 21-Day Challenge, “as its name implies, will challenge each of us to step out of our comfort zones so that we can acquire greater racial literacy and a deeper understanding of the historical context of current events, and inspire us to become engaged in the fight against racial inequality in our profession.” While all of us might not necessarily agree with every perspective or idea expressed in a particular assignment, ultimately the goal is to get us thinking (and talking!) about diversity in our profession, which is something we can all agree on.
How Do I Participate?
Participating in the 21-Day Challenge is straightforward. There is no registration or fee. Simply visit the 21-Day Challenge website and start on the daily syllabus on July 27, 2020. You’ll notice on the website that the Section chair encourages participants to form discussion circles to discuss the reading assignments. We believe this presents a fantastic opportunity for us to collaborate and communicate with you, and to share ideas about the road ahead.
Accordingly, we invite you all to be a part of Blank Rome’s 21-Day Challenge discussion group. Please contact us to participate. We are excited to partner with you on this journey. We believe that small steps from many of us over time will make a difference.