Diversity - Law Firms The Goodwin Diversity Fellowships - Rewarding Achievement And Keeping The Minority Lawyer Pipeline Full

Wednesday, February 1, 2006 - 01:00
Wayne A. Budd

Editor: Wayne, it is a great pleasure for me to have the opportunity to interview you again. I last interviewed you for our March 2003 diversity issue when you were Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of John Hancock. Your leadership qualities made you particularly stand out in my mind among those who at the time were active in the corporate counsel community. Please fill us in on some of the highlights of your background.

Budd: I have a varied background. I started out in a small, but diverse, law firm in Boston. The firm included attorneys who enjoyed a measure of success as we practiced law over the years. One of our partners is now Attorney General and leading candidate for the Governor's Office in Massachusetts. Another partner went on to become District Attorney for the City of Boston. There were several other distinguished members of the firm who went on to do great things.

I left that firm in 1989 to become the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. I served for three years there and was then asked to go to Washington, DC as the Associate Attorney General under then Attorney General Bill Barr. I served the last year of the first Bush Administration 1992-1993. When I completed that service, I came back to Boston and was invited to join Goodwin Procter as a partner. I was at the firm for three years during which period I also served on the United States Sentencing Commission.

I was presented with the opportunity to join Bell Atlantic, which is now Verizon, as its New England President. I served in that capacity for four years. I also served as an outside director of John Hancock Financial Services in Boston. John Hancock subsequently invited me to come in-house as Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel while remaining on its Board. There, I had a wide variety of responsibilities and very much enjoyed the experience. One of the things I thought was important was to partner with outside firms in such things as advancing diversity and doing pro bono work. It was a win/win because we had the benefit of the firms, their resources and expertise. It helped cement the relationship between the outside firms and the Company.

After John Hancock was acquired, I returned to Goodwin Procter to practice law here in October 2004. Among other activities, I am still active with board work in the for-profit and not-for-profit world.

Editor: What is the nature of your practice?

Budd: I am a Senior Counsel in the Litigation Department and self-designated as part-time. I do some client work and mentoring, as well as work on various special projects for the Chairman and Managing Partner Regina Pisa. I am on the Diversity Committee at the firm and enjoy that very much. I have a number of other activities that I am involved with at Goodwin, all of which are very interesting.

Editor: I am sure that there were many firms competing for you to join them. What special characteristics of the Firm led you to rejoin Goodwin Procter?

Budd: I was fortunate in having a choice of firms, but coming back to Goodwin Procter was a natural because of the prior positive experience here. I liked the people and the vision of the firm. The leadership of the firm and its commitment to diversity also drove my decision. I was particularly impressed by its selection in 1998 of Regina Pisa as Chairman and Managing Partner. I believe that Regina was the first woman Chairman and Managing Partner of a major law firm in the United States.

Editor: You mentioned that you were particularly influenced by the Firm's commitment to diversity. Based upon your experience as corporate counsel, why did you feel that was so important?

Budd: From the perspective of the general counsel, a couple of things come to mind. In dealing with outside firms or outside vendors, you are interested in people who share your values. In many companies, including John Hancock, diversity is part of the culture and is promoted because it is important. Hence, one looked for diversity as an important value in the vendors that you use, including outside counsel.

The second point is that the legal team I oversaw at John Hancock felt that we got a better quality product if the team of attorneys at the law firms that served us was diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and gender. This resulted in a better flow of ideas which produced better solutions. So, what many would consider a noble cause was also in reality self-serving, because we got a better product.

Moreover, lawyers of color in the large successful firms that the John Hancock Law Department would use were, almost by definition, fine lawyers. We wanted these fine lawyers to work on our matters because we wanted the best solutions to legal problems. For this reason, we would seek out large law firms that had lawyers of color in prominent roles. In working with Goodwin Procter during my tenure as General Counsel at John Hancock, I found that the lawyers of color who worked for us always did an outstanding job, including in "bet-the-company" situations.

Editor: How important is it for a law firm to reflect the diverse image that a corporation wishes to project in its representation of that client?

Budd: A company like John Hancock, with a large and diverse consumer base, benefits from having law firms represent it in court and in other contexts that reflect its own diversity. There is no question in my mind that the increasing number of regulators and judges and jurors of color will react favorably when a company's legal representatives are diverse. I hasten to add that when we are talking about bringing lawyers of color to Goodwin Procter, we are not talking about a compromise on quality. Some people suggest that if you go out of your way to bring in people of color you have to compromise on quality. That is just plain, flat out wrong.

Editor: Achievement of diversity in the profession requires that there be an adequate supply of minority lawyers. Tell us how Goodwin Diversity Fellowships address this issue?

Budd: For all the reasons I mentioned, the firm recognized that if we are to succeed in recruiting young lawyers of color, it is necessary to take steps to assure that there be a sufficient number of minority lawyers coming out of the education pipeline. One of the issues faced by young men and women of color going to law school is the cost. The $15,000 awarded annually to each successful candidate under the Goodwin Diversity Fellowship program can contribute materially to keeping a gifted minority student on course into a successful legal career. We are looking for people who have clearly demonstrated their interest in the community, leadership ability and academic excellence.

We view the fellowships as our contribution to bolstering the ranks of gifted lawyers of color. This year's fellowships were awarded to three outstanding young people from Georgetown, NYU and Harvard law schools. These young people all demonstrated the characteristics we sought to reward.

Through Goodwin Procter's Diversity Fellowship Program, we are sending a strong message that our firm is serious about diversity to minority students at the many law schools at which we solicited fellowship applications. We do feel that this is an important recruiting advantage for us as well.

Editor: Goodwin Procter has always been a pioneer. It was among the first large firms to have a woman chairman and managing partner and we had the pleasure of interviewing her shortly after she was named to that position. A number of other firms subsequently followed. Do you see the Goodwin Diversity Fellowships program as being particularly significant in that it creates a model that is likely to be followed by other firms?

Budd: While we are not the only law firm to award fellowships to minority law students, it is our hope that the Goodwin Diversity Fellowships will give further momentum to what we feel is an effective way to increase the supply of highly qualified minority lawyers. We also hope that other firms will create programs similar to ours that significantly reward not only academic excellence but also leadership and service to the community.

We recognize that in retaining a law firm, an increasing number of corporate counsel give significant weight to that firm's commitment to diversity. However, this was not a primary factor in our decision to create the Goodwin Diversity Fellowships. We were motivated by a desire to encourage young people of color to stay on the track to becoming lawyers because we realize how important diversity is to the legal profession.

Editor: Putting on your general counsel hat, do you think that corporate counsel will give weight to the existence of programs like the Goodwin Diversity Fellowships in assessing a law firm's total commitment to diversity?

Budd: Going back to my former role as a general counsel for a moment, I would certainly have applauded the firm's actions in being among the pioneers in finding a way to keep outstanding minority students in the legal pipeline. Yes, I would have been pleased that the firm was on the same page with me as a client by sharing the desire to not only promote diversity in the profession but by also doing something about it.

Please email the interviewee at WBudd@goodwinprocter.com with questions about this interview.