Here is an important story about law firms stepping up on the issue of diversity and inclusion:
I am aware that not everyone agrees about the importance of diversity and inclusion and that some of you may feel that you have suffered setbacks as a result of the emphasis those subjects are getting these days. I am not jumping into that discussion. But I want to give recognition where it is appropriate for those firms that are becoming serious about the subject. In this most recent effort at K&L Gates, all lawyers are able to reap a benefit in getting involved and seeking solutions.
I have served on a number of non-profit boards during my career, and the one I give the most time to now is a trust for land conservation. Our goal at the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (www.nvct.org) is to preserve as much open space as possible to benefit the well-being of our human, animal and plant populations and to combat the effects of climate change. We recognize that we cannot do that effectively if we are not equipped to engage diverse populations in our cause. So that is what we do. Soon I will participate in a training session to make our board and our staff more proficient in our messaging to diverse populations and to engage and include those populations in our important work.
Each of us has the potential to do what we can where we can.
The big news this Fall at law firms and other law employers continues to center on when members and employees will be required to return to brick and mortar offices. It is a mixed bag.
Some law firms are being cautious and projecting the end of the year or the beginning of 2022 as the return time. Although COVID 19 and the delta variant are on the run throughout the country as the result of increased vaccination rates, concerns about workforce discontent and liability seem to be fueling the caution at law firms. However, vaccination mandates at some law firms likely will reduce those concerns and accelerate return dates.
And clients are weighing in as well. An executive at Morgan Stanley is out on a limb telling outside counsel to get their lawyers back in the office pronto, and Kelley Drye & Warren, which appears to be a bit of an outlier among firms on this subject, recently announced an ambitious return date.
The issues are huge for lawyer mothers. I wrote about the challenges for those lawyers working from home during the pandemic in my May 2021 column in the ABA Journal and touched on it again in my June 2021 column where I also alerted lawyer moms to the the need for balance between home and office to safeguard their careers and their upward mobility as they return to office settings.
The latter column became controversial, with 7100 readers of the ABA Journal “liking” the column and hundreds of commentators on social media disagreeing and misinterpreting the message. However, controversy is a springboard for valuable discussion, and I am happy to be the one to have called the question. As a response to this controversy and the firestorm on Twitter, mainstream legal media (Bloomberg Law, The American Lawyer and The Federalist) supported my opinions and advice. The issues I raised also have been the subject of a cover story in the Sept/Oct issue of the ABA Journal print magazine and an ABA webinar.
Raising the issues is what I have done for the last 15 years at Best Friends at the Bar. And there is plenty to talk about these days.