I finished my term as Cozen O’Connor’s Fellow in the Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity in March of 2017. The mission of this prestige program is to unite attorneys who work in firms and in corporate counsel offices for the purposes of networking, personal and career development, and the promotion of diversity within our profession.
Firms and corporations that are members of LCLD select one fellow per year to represent them in the program, and the selection process within those organizations is often very competitive.
The LCLD Fellows Program affords its participants key opportunities for networking and creative development. Various sponsor organizations host events at their corporate headquarters to allow fellows to meet their staff and attorneys, and observe how the businesses are run. Among the choices offered to fellows was the opportunity to visit Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, PNC in Pittsburgh, Honeywell in New Jersey, and The Home Depot in Atlanta. I chose Home Depot, and was impressed by the integration between the legal and non-legal staff at this home furnishings giant. For example, all lawyers at Home Depot, which we visited at its Georgia plant, are required to spend a certain amount of time per year as a sales associate in a store. They also wear the aprons. Home Depot emphasized that their sales associates are the most important people in the company, and Home Depot’s actions seemed to back this up. As you might imagine, the opportunity to meet with attorneys from the biggest and most respected companies in the country is invaluable. But I also found the career development aspect of the program to be just as fulfilling. Fellows attend a total of three meetings where they interact with each other and attend personal and career development group sessions.
One session I found particularly interesting was on how to become more resilient and resourceful. Using the analogy of Mars from the movie “The Martian”, the speaker expertly emphasized the importance of adapting to challenges and not panicking when events don’t unfold as we expect them, and they rarely do. But what also stuck with me was a speaker who talked about bringing one’s true self to work, and how that can be a sticky issue for diverse attorneys. For example, when and under what circumstances is it acceptable to bring in photos of your family to work? What if you are gay and you want to post a picture on your desk of your significant other? Similarly, many of us come at the law, and at life, from different perspectives, depending on our life experiences. To the extent that those experiences and viewpoints are different than our colleagues, and can often be a delicate dance when we want to be ourselves yet not be seen as “the other.”
One of the best things about the Fellows Program is the Accountability Partner. Each fellow is coupled with an accountability partner to participate with during the three fellowship meetings. Even more important, in my view, was the opportunity to meet and share experiences with my accountability partner who is with a major social media company.
Participating in the Fellowship Program was a truly fulfilling experience. I now graduate to being a Fellowship alumnus, and will participate in the various alumni conferences and events, including one that is coming in June in New York City.
David A. Shimkin practices in the Commercial Litigation Group at Cozen O’Connor in Los Angeles. His litigation practice includes complex commercial matters, with a focus on representing clients in the hospitality, health care, construction, and real estate fields. For more information about David, click here.