Elad's Plan to IMPROVE REPRESENTATION IN GOVERNMENT
The makeup of the Missouri Attorney General's Office does not reflect Missouri. That's true about the wider legal profession as well. The Attorney General’s Office has the opportunity to lead on improving representation in our state, especially given the office’s long history of training highly capable attorneys who occupy leadership positions in our courts, law firms, and corporations. As Attorney General, I will:
1. Hold regular town halls to familiarize more Missourians with the Attorney General's Office. Your attorney should be asking for your input. A lot of Missourians do not even know what our Attorney General does for our state. As Attorney General, I will show up in all of our communities, and not just during election season.
2. Remove barriers to employment that discriminate against minority candidates. In years past, the Attorney General’s Office asked for top test scores from candidates for employment and internships. Unfortunately, these achievements are much more readily available to students who have grown up with stronger educational and financial supports. Test scores should be considered, but they shouldn’t be used to exclude, especially from the interview process. Many of the nation’s best attorneys did not have excellent grades. As Attorney General, I will eliminate exclusive language from our job postings and encourage all lawyers and students to apply.
3. Improve recruiting. Not only should the office remove barriers to employment, it should actively recruit and encourage diverse candidates to apply for positions. That means connecting with student groups in our state’s law schools and colleges, developing partnerships with the different bar associations in Missouri, and offering more ways for staff members to provide input to the office’s leadership and refer people for jobs.
4. Start earlier. The Attorney General and staff should be reaching out to our students in college, high school, and even in our kindergarten classrooms. Older students can participate in internships, and younger ones need to learn about the importance of the office and be encouraged to one day serve the state as a public attorney. Far too many people in our state do not know what the Attorney General does, and, by increasing engagement, more students from all backgrounds will aspire to become public servants.
5. Pay interns. Paid internships open opportunity to folks who cannot afford to go without income. These resources can come through partnerships with law school scholarship programs, developing a supportive Attorney General alumni network, and reallocating the office budget especially when it comes to the top-paid attorneys. The office needs to be more intentional when it comes to its intern program and use it as a pipeline for employees. The office can learn from similar programs in the private sector.
6. Develop an Attorney General alumni network. Former Assistant Attorneys General go on to serve in many leadership roles and can be a great source of support and referrals for candidates. Further developing connections to the office increase ownership, decreases turnover, and helps improve the office’s culture. Beyond the office, the alumni network can become instrumental in furthering inclusion in the entire legal field in Missouri.
7. Implement implicit bias and intervention training. The Attorney General’s Office is a law enforcement office. It makes decisions that have big impacts on people’s lives and on state policy. Implicit or unconscious bias is a major problem in so many professions, the legal profession included. Although America has some way to go to find the right training, it appears those experiences that are most engaging, counter stereotypes, and provide trainees with tools they can use in the workplace are most effective. Managing attorneys especially need to be trained on how to teach the attorneys they supervise to identify bias. Dealing with bias must be an ongoing process, not a one-off activity.
8. Partner with law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, and other state agencies. The Attorney General needs to work with other agencies in the state to share best practices, resolve issues early as they arise, and train staff together where appropriate to reduce bias. Right now, we do not have enough interagency interaction, especially when it comes to sharing ideas and preventing poor outcomes. By focusing on prevention, we can make sure the state better serves Missourians and reduces legal liability (and the subsequent taxpayer bill).
9. Provide a process for employees to lead initiatives at the office. The best ideas come when everyone is included. The Attorney General’s Office is full of Missourians who are choosing to forgo big paychecks in order to serve the public. We need to trust them to lead and provide ways that everyone can take ownership of the office.
10. Increase access to the Attorney General for employees. Employees should have direct access to the Attorney General to voice concerns or provide ideas. Previous Attorneys General didn't even keep an official email account so that they could avoid Missouri’s Sunshine Law. That’s unacceptable. As Attorney General, I’ll be present and available. The buck will stop with me.
11. Launch Missouri's first Civil Rights Division. Civil rights enforcement is a crucial component of ensuring everyone has access to opportunity. As Attorney General, I will start Missouri's first Civil Rights Division to protect our rights on the job.
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