Workplace Diversity Helps Inspire Excellence

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 - 00:00

Editor: You have just been named managing partner of one of the leading
law offices in Cincinnati. Congratulations. Can you tell our readers about your
background?

Lampley: There never was a time in my life that I did not want to be a
lawyer, at least not a time that I can remember. I have always appreciated the
value an excellent lawyer delivers to clients and to society, and I have always
wanted to be part of that process.

I grew up in Hamilton, Ohio, and earned my undergraduate degree, with honors,
at the University of Dayton. I earned my law degree, with honors, at the
University of Cincinnati College of Law. I started my career as an associate in
the litigation department at another large law firm. I was there for three
years, and began working at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in 1992.

At Vorys, I became an accomplished litigator, gaining first-chair civil trial
experience in class actions involving race discrimination, commercial actions
involving injunctive and other equitable relief, employment discrimination,
public policy cases, trade secret and non-compete cases, eminent domain cases
and several other types of trials. I have experience litigating in both state
and federal courts and in administrative agencies. In 2004 and 2005, my peers
named me an Ohio Super Lawyer. It's a highly selective honor, and one that
continues to be a point of great pride for me. In February 2006, I became
managing partner of Vorys' Cincinnati office.

Throughout my career, I have had a real passion for the courtroom and for the
problem-solving skills attorneys bring to adversarial situations of all kinds.
Again, excellent lawyers provide a true and tangible service to clients and to
society.

Editor: You are the only African American to hold the title of managing
partner in a major law firm in your region. What does that say about Vorys'
commitment to diversity?

Lampley : Vorys has always been inclusive and diverse. That's one of
the things that attracted me to the firm more than a decade ago. In fact, a
survey in 1995 named Vorys as having the second highest number of
African-American partners of all major law firms in the country.

When I joined Vorys in 1992, I found people of color to mentor me, to nurture
me and to help me grow as a person and as a lawyer. I remain friends with those
mentors today.

However, my most influential mentor at the firm is not an attorney of color.
Years ago, he invested time and energy to help me develop my skills as a lawyer,
and I would like to think that he made a worthwhile investment.

I work every day to make that same kind of investment in our associates. I
see it as one of my responsibilities to mentor colleagues of all ages and
backgrounds. That really is the responsibility of every one of the 58 lawyers in
our Cincinnati office. We all have more to teach. We all have more to learn.

Vorys excels at fostering that culture and a true spirit of teamwork...for
the good of our associates and especially for the good of our clients.

Editor: Why is diversity important in the general corporate sense?

Lampley: Businesses that fail to successfully foster diversity suffer
both economic and social consequences. A workplace culture that does not invite
and cultivate alternative perspectives and varied experiences from all types of
people cannot reach the levels of excellence for which we continue to strive at
Vorys. Every lawyer and staff person needs to believe that he or she is a
respected and valuable member of our team.

Most of our clients set a fine example for us and demand that we continue to
promote and maintain a diverse work environment. Above all, promoting such an
environment is the right thing to do.

Editor: Why is it important specifically for law firms?

Lampley: A law firm is a business. We are in the business of serving
our clients' needs. We cannot exempt ourselves from fundamental rules that apply
to other businesses that are successful in part because they foster a diverse
and inclusive work environment.

Editor: Diversity can take many forms. It's not just about race, and it's
not just about staffing. What does diversity mean in today's society?

Lampley: Diversity is a spirit of inclusion - of embracing different
people, different ideas and different backgrounds to arrive at something that is
greater than the individual components.

Editor: Is it important to have a diverse client base?

Lampley: It is more important to provide excellent service to
all
of our clients, large and small. That's what we at Vorys strive to do,
and we have been successful.

Vorys' client mix includes large companies and small, big-city enterprises
and rural mom-and-pops. Our attention to that diverse collection of clients has
helped Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease grow into one of the largest law firms in
the United States. It has enabled us to attract and retain more than 370 lawyers
in six different offices, and it has enabled us to specialize in practice groups
that span the gamut of corporate law. Diversity in our own ranks, in our client
base and in our practice groups - along with an unwavering commitment to
excellence - has allowed us to expand professionally and personally.

Editor: You have been a lawyer at Vorys for 14 years. Can you talk about
your own experience with diversity during that time?

Lampley: Vorys is a firm where people want to work. Our culture is one
of excellence, and as such, I have always been evaluated on my skills rather
than on race. Excellence transcends race, and this firm has always been about
excellence.

Editor: What does Vorys do to create a culture of diversity?

Lampley: Vorys is committed to providing equal employment
opportunities in hiring, promotion and professional development. For a number of
years, our firm has sought a diverse and inclusive group of outstanding law
students and lawyers. For example, we recruit at both minority job fairs and at
historically black colleges and universities; we maintain contact with law
school affinity organizations such as the Black Law School Association, the
Hispanic Law School Association and the National Asian-Pacific-American Law
School Association; and we host receptions specifically for law students of
color. Additionally, Vorys has founded a diversity scholarship for law students
of color. We also have diversity consultants on retainer at the firm. Our
diversity committee regularly monitors and evaluates our work in this area.

Editor: As managing partner of the Cincinnati office, do you have any
plans to change these initiatives?

Lampley: I serve as chairman of our diversity committee at Vorys. I
helped develop the initiatives we have in place as well as our mission on
diversity. I will remain involved in this area.

Editor: You have made your career in litigation, helping to expand Vorys'
practice in this area while expanding your own reputation as a top-notch
litigator. How will your new duties as managing partner affect your
practice?

Lampley: I will maintain my practice, and my goal is to grow it even
more. We have a great team to help. We have 58 excellent lawyers who specialize
in nearly every practice area, including commercial and real estate law,
corporate and finance law, energy and utility law, environmental law, government
and lobbying, health care, intellectual property, international law, labor and
employment law, litigation, probate and estate planning, tax law, technology and
toxic tort.

We also have a real spirit of teamwork here, a focus on the team rather than
the individual. We are committed to our team's success...all of us. And so we
all will continue to work together to maintain that success.

Editor: In addition to your membership in the Cincinnati, Ohio State
and American Bar Associations, you are active in the Black Lawyers Association
of Cincinnati, the United Way Volunteer Leaders Development Program and several
other social or civic organizations. Do you see that as an important role for an
attorney? Do you see it as an important role for the managing partner of your
office?

Lampley: Our firm has a commitment to excellence and to
service, both to our clients and to the larger community. We are leaders, and as
such all of our attorneys are involved in a number of civic causes across all of
the communities in which we live and work. This is the case in Vorys' Cincinnati
office as well as in our other offices.

I believe that lawyers, as a whole, tend to take very seriously their
obligations to society, their obligations as leaders, their skills as critical
thinkers. That sense of responsibility is what drew many of us to the profession
to begin with. We can make a difference, we do make a difference, and we enjoy
making a difference. It's what we do every day.

Editor: What is your vision for diversity at Vorys five years from
now?

Lampley: As chair of the diversity committee, I helped develop the
following diversity mission statement for our law firm: "To strengthen our firm
and to enhance our workplace culture by developing and implementing ongoing
strategies for attracting, retaining and promoting a diverse and inclusive team
of professionals and staff, and to evaluate regularly the effectiveness of such
strategies."

We don't have a magic number for the number of diverse lawyers we are seeking
at Vorys. We simply want to continue to be intentional about making our law firm
more diverse. This will be one of a few key items upon which I will focus in my
new leadership role.

Please email the interviewee at nlampley@vssp.com with questions about this
interview.