Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Congratulations to the
2017 Diversity & Inclusion Achievement Award Winner:


Past Diversity & Inclusion Achievement Award Winners:



The mission of the Onondaga County Bar Association (“OCBA”) Diversity and Inclusion Committee (“The Committee”) is to lead and guide the OCBA to create and foster a legal community wherein the same opportunities for growth, development and advancement are open to all; members are equally valued for their individual unique talents, skills, and contributions to the community; individual differences are celebrated and embraced; diverse discourse is valued and encouraged; and equal and full participation enhances and enriches the quality of legal services and administration of justice.


We define diversity as: an inclusive concept that encompasses, without limitation, race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital status, parental status, citizenship, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, predisposing genetic characteristics, gender identity and expression, domestic violence victim status, or any other legally-protected status.

We define inclusion as: the act or state of affiliating, collaborating, involving and inviting everyone, including those who traditionally have been absent, to join in and assist in designing new systems that encourage every person to participate and contribute to the fullest extent of their ability.


  1. Cultivate a bar that substantially reflects the diversity in the greater Onondaga County community.
  2. Encourage and increase participation of members of traditionally underrepresented groups in the profession and the OCBA.
  3. Eliminate barriers to the advancement and success of members to positions of leadership in the profession and in the OCBA – regardless of personal background or circumstances.
  4. Promote a culture within the OCBA and greater community that is hospitable, welcoming and accommodating to all- regardless of personal background/circumstances.
  5. Establish  the OCBA as a premier local bar association that serves and addresses the interests, needs and concerns  of all its members- regardless of personal background/circumstances
  6. Ensure that clients and people in need of legal representation receive quality legal services that are responsive to their needs taking into account their personal backgrounds/circumstances
  7. Create systems and practices that afford everyone an equal opportunity for access to justice.

The Decisive Moment: Addressing Implicit Bias in the Law and Legal Profession | Bridge the Gap October 12, 2016

Addressing Implicit Bias

Presenter: Paula C. Johnson, Professor of Law, College of Law Syracuse University

Paula C. Johnson is professor of law at Syracuse University College of Law.  She was the Sparks Chair at the University of Alabama School of Law in 2008, and served as the Haywood Burns Chair in Civil Rights at CUNY Law School in 2005-2006, where she taught a seminar entitled, International Conflict Resolution in Africa. She also held the Syracuse University College of Law Bond, Schoeneck and King Distinguished Professorship from 2004-2006.  She was co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), a national organization of approx. 900 law professors from 2002-2003.  She earned her B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park; her J.D. from Temple University School of Law; and her LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.  Professor Johnson and Professor Janis McDonald co-direct the Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI) at Syracuse University College of Law, which investigates racially-motivated murders committed during the civil rights era.  She also was co-director of the Sierra Leone UN War Crimes Tribunal Project, within the Center for Global Law & Practice, with Professors Donna Arzt and Lucille Rignanese.

Get more information on the Cold Case Initiative here..

Diversity & Inclusion CLE Series Handouts

Part 1.1: Unconscious Bias Part 1.2: Unconscious Bias Part 2: Best Practices

Our projects to further diversity in the law include: