Andy Kassner, Drinker Biddle chairman and CEO, discussed tactics for building a diverse and inclusive law firm partnership, with a focus on engaging other leaders to be active advocates in their firms and the broader legal industry, as a panelist at Legalweek New York on January 30.
The session, “Getting Buy-In from Law Firm Leaders and Engaging the Institution,” featured panelists from some of the nation’s largest firms who shared their successful approaches to engaging firm leadership in diversity and inclusion initiatives, getting buy-in from the top down and strategies for overcoming resistance to change.
Among a number of topics was the Mansfield Rule, a groundbreaking program that aims to boost the representation of women, LGBTQ+ and lawyers of color in law firm hiring and leadership by broadening the pool of candidates. The rule advocates that diverse lawyers constitute at least 30 percent of the candidate pool for promotions, senior-level hiring and significant leadership roles in the firm.
Andy reported that Drinker Biddle was an early and enthusiastic advocate for diversity across the firm, and had for many years applied the tenets of the Mansfield Rule in both hiring and business development. With this in mind, he said it was an easy decision to become a formal signatory to the Mansfield Rule 2.0. Andy also discussed the firm’s implicit bias training program, which Drinker Biddle’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee developed with the support of expert Vernā Myers, vice president of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix and founder of The Vernā Myers Company. The training is mandatory for all lawyers and professional staff.
Andy was joined on the panel by Carmita Alonso, a partner at Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen & Loewy, and Jami Wintz McKeon, the chair of Morgan Lewis. Bernard Guinyard, head of Diversity & Inclusion at Goodwin Procter LLP, was the moderator.
Legalweek New York brings together people from all facets of the legal profession to address key challenges facing the industry and uncover strategies to drive the business of law forward. More than 9,000 legal professionals attended Legalweek New York 2019.