Diversity & Inclusion Committee
The Diversity & Inclusion Committee examines the extent to which MCB and legal entities have successfully incorporated lawyers from traditionally underrepresented groups in their organization. The committee provides recommendations for addressing matters related to diversity and inclusion; and proposes methods for measuring the success of efforts to address these issues. The committee also implements programming for members and pipelining opportunities.
|2020-21 Co-Chair||2020-21 Co-Chair||2020-21 Vice-Chair|
|Hon. Rickye McKoy-Mitchell
|Adam K. Doerr
|Class of 2021||Class of 2022||Class of 2023|
Alysja S. Carlisle
Hon. Karen Eady-Williams
Micheal L. Littlejohn Jr.
Dana C. Lumsden
Zachary H. Smith
Alexandra Villarreal O'Rourke
Hon. Tyyawdi Hands
Best Practices on Diversity - Bank of America
Best Practices on Diversity - Duke Energy
Best Practices on Diversity - McGuireWoods
Best Practices on Diversity - Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson
Best Practices on Diversity - Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
Volunteer Need / Commitment
Members of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee attend bi-monthly committee meetings, write newsletter articles, implement programming in accordance with the Statement of Purpose, evaluate diversity initiative effectiveness and discuss ways to better serve MCB.
2016-17 Diversity & Inclusion Committee Report
Timika Shafeek-Horton, Chair & Greg Kilpatrick, Vice-Chair
The Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee had an active and productive year. In addition to carrying out core programs as they currently exist, the committee reviewed D&I programming for future sustainability with the aim towards membership-wide inclusion.
Over the last decade, the MCB has focused on D&I programming funded and coordinated primarily by large firms and corporate legal departments. These efforts have made a difference within the participating firms and legal departments, and the entire Bar, but there is more to do. With the MCB strategic plan that calls for infusion of diversity throughout the Bar and a focus on membership inclusion, the D&I Committee and subcommittees are focused on D&I efforts expanding beyond the large firms and legal departments. To spearhead these priorities, this year the MCB hired Carmen Thomas as the Membership Inclusion & Diversity Director.
The MCB has a diversity statement and a Call to Action that identifies the importance of recruiting and retaining diverse attorneys to the legal profession in Mecklenburg County. This year the D&I Committee started work that may lead to an updated or revised Call to Action. The D&I Committee believes that after 10 years, a review is in order. Additionally, the MCB, particularly via its new Membership Inclusion and Diversity Director, and D&I Committee are working to identify ways to ensure all members feel welcomed and encouraged to participate in MCB activities. The MCB is diverse in a number of ways, including, but not limited to, practice areas, race, gender, ethnicity, firm size, age, location within the county, and practice entity, i.e. public vs. private, etc.
In February, the committee presented the 2017 Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award to Valecia M. McDowell. The award celebrates individuals who have advanced the cause of diversity and equal opportunity in the community.
The committee’s historical and ongoing work was executed through four subcommittees:
Apex Mentoring Program Subcommittee
The Apex Subcommittee, led by Brian Cromwell and Dave Mitchell, is a mentoring program that encourages and supports the ascension of diverse attorneys to senior positions within Charlotte-Mecklenburg law firms. This year the Apex Subcommittee took a “clean slate” review of the Apex program recognizing that the program’s original design was aimed at mid-level associates and in-house counsel of the signatories.
During this year, the subcommittee determined that the MCB is best served by extending the Apex program beyond a one-year mentor/mentee relationship. Apex is considering a two-tiered program. Tier one is for the “new/experienced” lawyer relationships and will focus on issues diverse lawyers new to the Bar may face. The second tier will be for mid-level attorney/senior law firm or in-house counsel relationships and will focus on client development and creating business relationships that can become valuable to the mentee in the short and long term.
Apex seeks to expand and allow Minority and Women Owned Law Firm and members of Affinity Bars to become mentees and all firms to become mentors.
Next steps for the Apex Subcommittee include, but are not limited to, redefining objectives for new and senior lawyers, identifying a subcommittee member to lead the engagement efforts, drafting education and training materials and reviewing the duration aspects of the program to fit within the redefined objectives.
Charlotte Legal Diversity Clerkship Subcommittee
Seven top first-year law students joined the ranks of Charlotte law firms and corporate legal departments this summer through the Charlotte Legal Diversity Clerkship (CLDC) program. The CLDC program was led by Brian Heslin and Ann Warren. The program received over 80 applications from over 20 law schools across the country for the highly competitive positions. During the students’ 12-week stay, the CLDC clerks will participate in professional and social activities highlighting the benefits of working and living in Charlotte. The 2017 CLDC program features luncheons with members of the state and federal judiciary – including meeting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas - breakfast with Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles and a variety of social events that provide ample networking opportunities.
The participating law firms and corporate legal departments include: Alston & Bird; Bank of America; Duke Energy; K&L Gates; Mayer Brown; McGuireWoods; Moore & Van Allen; Parker Poe; Robinson Bradshaw and Wells Fargo & Company. Sponsors of the CLDC program include Hunton & Williams and Compass USA, Inc.
In addition to preparing for the 2017 program, the CLDC Subcommittee focused on elevating the impact of the program by increasing the number of clerks and participating stakeholders while retaining the unique nature of the program as a partnership among primary legal employers in Mecklenburg County. Changes to the current program structure are likely to occur in the next year or two.
Lateral Hires Subcommittee
The Lateral Hires Subcommittee was promoted from a task force to a subcommittee this year and has been led by Landon Eustache and Sara Lincoln. The Lateral Hires Subcommittee purpose is to increase the diversity of lateral hires among signatories.
Fiscal year 2016-17 was a year of reflection and consideration for what the Lateral Hires Subcommittee could add to current D&I Committee programs. The subcommittee consulted with Ron Jordan of Carter-White & Shaw Diverse Attorney Recruiters to discuss programming ideas. The Lateral Hires Subcommittee realizes the benefits of creating and maintaining lines of communication with potential diverse lateral candidates to ensure they remain connected to Charlotte. The subcommittee is considering creating a quarterly newsletter for CLDC graduates that will be linked to the MCB website for lateral candidates. The Lateral Hires Subcommittee is also discussing how to have consistent contact with the leaders of large law firms to encourage them to consider diverse lateral candidates in their hiring practices.
Pipeline Programming Subcommittee
The Pipeline Programming Subcommittee oversees the Lunch with a Lawyer (LwL) mentoring program for middle school children interested in the legal profession. The Pipeline Subcommittee also coordinates the annual Pathways to Inclusion in the Law - Diversity Conference (formerly known as Diversity Day), a free one-day conference for diverse high school and undergraduate students interested in the legal profession. Dulce Plaza and Judge Donald Cureton led the Pipeline Programming Subcommittee.
The LwL program began in November 2016 with a mentor/mentee kick-off luncheon at the Marie G. Davis Military & Global Leadership Academy. This year, 41 mentors were matched with mentees from 14 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Mentors and mentees met once a month throughout the school year and ended the program in June with a tour of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, a mock trial with Judge Albert Diaz and a luncheon with all constituents- school administrators and parents included.
The Pipeline Programming Subcommittee is now planning the next Pathways to Inclusion Law - Diversity Conference to be held on February 24, 2018.
Diversity Benchmarking Report
The D&I Committee collected data this year from each of its signatory law firms regarding the recruitment, retention, and promotion of diverse attorneys within their Charlotte-Mecklenburg office. Compiling this aggregate data gives the MCB an opportunity to chart the progress made toward implementing the objectives set forth in the Call to Action.