Improving Law Firm Diversity: Insights from GCs and Chief Diversity Officers (MCCA Event)


Krishna Veeraraghavan Sullivan & Cromwell, Partner

Lanesha Minnix Senior VP, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary, Flowserve Corporation

Karen Wilson Thissen Ameriprise Financial, Executive VP & General Counsel

Laura Schumacher AbbVie Inc., External Affairs & Chief Legal Officer

Sheila Davidson New York Life Insurance Company, Executive VP, Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel

Kevin Lyn Womble Bond Dickinson (US), Partner & Diversity Chair

Erica Bolden Mercedes-Benz, USA, Head of Diversity & Inclusion

John Iino Reed Smith, Partner & Global Chief Diversity Officer

Melique Jones Director of Talent Pipeline & Diversity & Inclusion, Skadden Arps

Peter Wilson, Jr. Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Proskauer Rose

Program Level: Intermediate

Duration: 60 minutes

Recorded On: October 14, 2019

Program Description

This session was filmed at the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2019 Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference.

Part 1: General Counsel

While there has been continual growth in substantiating the importance of promoting diversity, inclusion and equity, real movement within law firms has been frustratingly slow, given the process is both time-consuming and expensive to implement as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Recently, this frustration was highlighted in an open letter to big law firms, signed by more than 170 general counsel and corporate legal officers, where law firms were put on notice that legal spend would be prioritized on firms committed to diversity and inclusion.

This panel will share best practices, challenges and achievements to spark discussion and provide guidance and motivation. With strategic implementation and support, small changes and improvements can lead to more significant progress, so that we can #AdvanceTogether.

Part 2: Chief Diversity Officers

Over the past decade, the Chief Diversity Officer or CDO position has grown in number and recognition – from an emerging, novel position to one that is often found in corporations and law firms committed to driving diversity and inclusion in their workplace. As CDOs take on the important, difficult, highly visible and increasingly multi-faceted role, the expectations to deliver have grown, especially in people management, from employment to retention and advancement of talent.

Panelists will share their experiences as CDOs, provide insight into the impact that CDOs can make to the bottom line and with people management, as well as challenges in serving as the catalyst to shift an entire firm or corporation towards a culture that is focused on diversity, inclusion and equity.

CLE Info

This program is currently available for 1.0 specialty credit in the following states (if you have already satisfied the specialty credit in the state(s) below, this program will provide 1.0 general credit):

Alabama: Ethics
Alaska: Ethics
California: Elim. of Bias
Connecticut: Ethics
Hawaii: Ethics
Illinois: Div. & Incl.
Minnesota: Elim. of Bias (pending)
New Hampshire: Ethics
New Jersey: Ethics
New Mexico: Ethics
New York: Div. & Incl.
North Carolina: Ethics
North Dakota: Ethics
Ohio: Prof. Conduct (pending)
Oregon: Access to Justice
: Ethics
Tennessee: Ethics
: Ethics

Vermont: Ethics
Washington: Ethics (pending)
West Virginia: Ethics

This program is also currently available for 1.0 general credit in the following states:

New Hampshire
New Jersey*
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
West Virginia

In addition, we have applied for credit in the following states, and will promptly update the list above as the program is approved in each such state:


*In Hawaii and New Jersey, we rely on their reciprocity policies pursuant to which our programs are deemed accredited once they are approved in the various reciprocity states where we apply such as California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

For information on attendance reporting, please refer to the CLE Info page.


Krishna Veeraraghavan
Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell

Lanesha Minnix
Flowserve Corporation, Senior VP, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary

Karen Wilson Thissen
Executive VP & General Counsel, Ameriprise Financial

Laura Schumacher
External Affairs & Chief Legal Officer, AbbVie Inc.

Sheila Davidson
Executive VP, Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel, New York Life Insurance Company

Kevin Lyn
Partner & Diversity Chair, Womble Bond Dickinson (US)

Erica Bolden
Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Mercedes-Benz, USA

John Iino
Partner & Global Chief Diversity Officer, Reed Smith

Melique Jones
Skadden Arps, Director of Talent Pipeline & Diversity & Inclusion

Peter Wilson, Jr.
Proskauer Rose, Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Program Level: Intermediate

Duration: 60 minutes

Recorded On: October 14, 2019