Wisconsin ‘Diversity’ Internship Now To Be Open To All

The Wisconsin State Bar Association has agreed to amend its first-year law student clerk internship open to all after a conservative group sued it last year over discrimination based on race and gender identity.

In a partial settlement agreement on Thursday, the state bar association agreed to amend its language for the internship requirement and make clear that its “diversity clerkship program” is open to all first-year law students at Marquette University Law School or the University of Wisconsin Law School.

The requirement for the clerkship program to be granted to students with “backgrounds that have been historically excluded from the legal field​​ who are in good standing” will be scrapped.

The bar will also adopt a new definition of diversity. Iits definition of “diversity” which included race, ethnicity and gender identity as factors will now include people with differing beliefs, characteristics, viewpoints, interests and experiences.

As agreed in the settlement, “Diversity promotes an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their differences and without regard to stereotypes, and helps to ensure a better understanding and consideration of the needs and viewpoints of others with whom we interact.”

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed the lawsuit on behalf of attorney Daniel Suhr. Suhr expressed satisfaction in the settlement, saying, “Premier internship opportunities should be available to students based on merit — not race. I am proud to partner with WILL to set a strong precedent for the next generation of law students.”

WILL Associate Counsel Skylar Croy also celebrated the decision in a statement, saying, “Defeating unconstitutional DEI programs has become WILL’s area of expertise, and we are not stopping here. While we are pleased with this victory, we know the fight is far from over. In fact, this is only the beginning of a movement, and our lawsuit will provide a roadmap for future victories in all 50 states.”

For the plaintiffs, the settlement will end “discriminatory DEI practices at the State bar.” “Now, our client’s mandatory and annual State Bar dues will not fund internships and policies primarily based on race, but rather on merit and diversity of viewpoint,” WILL officials said.

While the settlement resolves the definition of “diversity,” Larry J. Martin, the bar association executive director, made it clear that no changes have been made to the program.

“The Diversity Clerkship Program, which has been creating opportunities for Wisconsin-based law students for three decades, will continue to exist and to operate in its current form,” Martin said.