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DESPITE an increase in the number of ethnic minority and female lawyers holding official posts in the American Bar Association the groups remain under-represented in elected positions and are not involved in the leadership of many of the ABA's top units.
A survey produced by the association's commission on opportunities for minorities in the profession shows between 5 and 10 per cent of key spots were held by women and ethnic minorities, who account for 7.4 per cent of ABA membership.
And it shows there are no minority officers holding positions in 14 of the 24 sections surveyed. However, posts filled by ABA presidential appointments exceed minority representation in the association and the profession.
As a result of the study the commission has launched its new 'adopt a section' project, designed to encourage major ABA groups to boost their minority membership quota.
The move comes as the ABA inducts its first ever woman president, Roberta Cooper Ramo, who took over at the helm of the 370,000-member association form George Bushnell.
"It is immensely gratifying to see the broadening pool of talent and energy sharing in leading this association in to a new century," said commission chair Judge Bernice B Donald.
"But it is also clear to all of us in the ABA that the future of our association and society depends on us utilising the best talent of all its people.
"It is critically important that our profession fully reflects the demographics of our population as a whole."