What are some of your proudest recent achievements?
I’m proud of the firm’s progress on creating a more diverse and inclusive work-environment. As a result of my participation on the firm’s global partner promotion committee a record percentage of diverse attorneys were promoted to partner in 2020—the partner promotion class was the most diverse in the firm’s history.
I’m also proud of the firm’s recently launched speaker series on being Black in America. This series focuses on a number of important topics including, racial justice in corporate America, structural racism in America’s institutions, America’s criminal justice system’s impact on Black Americans the impact of race on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Through candid conversations about these issues, we hope to become better allies to our Black colleagues, our friends and our family members.
Additionally, I’m exceptionally proud of the firm’s “Project Equity” initiative that was launched last year in response to the many recent examples of social and racial injustice. As a member of the five-person task force leadership team, I help guide and organize the firm’s community-facing response, including working with community organizations in the NYC area that the firm believes it can effectively match up its skills, experience and resources with a very significant community need.
Name a lawyer or mentor whose leadership inspired you.
Paul Theiss and Barry Brooks. These law firm leaders taught me invaluable lessons. But one of the most important lessons was the importance of being a good listener. This advice helped me to become a much better attorney by being able to better understand the clients’ needs and objectives which resulted in better outcomes being produced by me and my team. This advice has also served me well in my role as the chief diversity professional—listening to the concerns of firm leaders about how they can contribute to the firm’s efforts to create and maintain a diverse and inclusive work environment has helped me to devise strategies and initiatives that have led to much greater and meaningful engagement of the various stakeholders at the firm. The two leaders also taught me to lead with empathy and compassion. Following this advice has made me a much more effective leader who engenders loyalty from those who I am responsible to lead.
How are the business and profession of law changing, and how should lawyers adapt for the future?
The profession is becoming more of a business than profession and business development will continue to take on greater significance. Interpersonal skills and the ability to develop and nurture professional relationships will become paramount. The legal profession is a relationship business. The sooner you start expanding your network and establishing a professional reputation—by leveraging the power and scope of social media platforms—the better. The profession is also becoming more diverse and inclusive. Embracing and supporting this seismic change will lead to a better profession, as it strives to ensure a criminal justice system that is fair and equal.
What is the best advice for someone considering a career in law, or someone already in the profession who is seeking to make a greater impact?
The legal profession provides fantastic opportunities to fight for and defend the rights of the underprivileged and those from marginalized communities. If you would like to make a difference in society, there is no better profession to join than the legal profession. If you are already a member of this great profession, please take advantage of the exceptional opportunities available and help make the change that our society needs. Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Standing idly by on the sidelines is no longer an option.
Reprinted with permission from the October 6, 2021 edition of New York Law Journal © 2021 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.