Taking Lawyering Up a Notch by Diversifying

The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity is looking for a few good men and women.  This high-profile mentorship program, founded in 2009, was formed with the idea of fostering diversity by involving top leaders in both firms and in legal departments within companies. 

Since its inception, there are already 100 firms and 65 corporations involved in spreading the word, and in taking promising lawyers under their wings.  The council’s newest concept, the Fellows Program, is aimed at pairing up-and-coming lawyers with established “coaches” for a period of one year, during which time the mentorees take courses in subjects they didn’t learn in law school.  (The mentors they’re matched up with also give career advice throughout this year.)

Two examples of these skill sets include setting up an alternative fee arrangement and project management.

And the Fellows are not limited to women or minorities.  According to a recent NLJ post, the aim of the program is to place promising lawyers under the guidance of managing partners or of general counsel “of some of the countries’ largest companies.”  Fellows are selected by member organizations.

Roderick Palmore, General Counsel of General Mills Inc. and chairman of the council (first picture) said “We’ve got the leadership of impactful organizations as well as law firm leaders. These are the people making up the faculty of the program.”

“We’re looking for high-potential…people…” said Greg Jordan (second picture), managing partner of Reed Smith and co-chairman of the group’s talent development committee.  “People who can take all their learning and all their networking back to their organization.” 

Other forms of diversification in the industry are coming about with advancements in technology, with broadened perspectives, and with a lot of stick-to-it-iveness, as people with certain physical disabilities overcome the giant hurdles inherent in such a choice to make law their profession. In other words, lawyers with disabilities are making headway.

Last year the NLJ ran profiles of certain individuals who have overcome distinct physical obstacles to pursue a career in law.  One inspiring example is 2L Elizabeth Kolbe (third picture) at Stanford Law School who, at age 14, sustained a spinal cord injury that placed her in a manual wheelchair.  

She traces her interest in law to the weeks of rehabilitation, when her passion for health care policy and extending health insurance coverage took root. Despite limited hand function, this future attorney has excelled in her studies and in her pursuits. 

Elizabeth designed her own major in health care policy as an undergraduate at Harvard.  Currently, she’s the vice president of the National Association of Law Students With Disabilities. She spent last summer in Washington doing disability legislative work and, in 2008, she competed in the Paralympics games in Beijing. She is hoping to land a law firm job this year. 

There are many others like this energetic advocate, and “changing attitudes towards the rights and abilities” of these pioneers are bringing about increased opportunities. “Doors are opening more and more for disabled attorneys,” says the NLJ.  Read more at: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202484088283 and at  http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202473139435



Mentorship program will foster diversity in the profession

Mentorship program will foster diversity in the profession

Special Report: Diversity


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