Letter From The General Counsel Of The Minority Corporate Counsel Association

2010-02-01 01:00

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ."

In many ways, this iconic opening line from A Tale of Two Cities describes the current state of diversity in the legal profession.

It was the best of times . . . .

More than 100 years after separate was declared equal ( Plessy v. Fergusson) , America elected an African American lawyer as president.Less than 70 years after American citizens of Asian descent were considered a threat to the national security ( Korematsu v. United States) , the general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security is an Asian American man.And less than 140 years after the first woman was admitted to a state bar, a woman of color was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

It was the worst of times . . .

Mexican American and African American law school enrollment is declining.( See Tamar Lewin, Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities , N.Y. Times, Jan. 7, 2010, at A22.)Despite the dramatic increase in the number of women entering and graduating from law school over the past 25 years, women are elevated to partnership disturbingly less often than their male counterparts.( See Vault/MCCA Guide to Law Firm Diversity Programs (2010).) And while the population of ethnic minorities increases, minorities are still dramatically underrepresented in the legal profession.( See Elizabeth Chambliss, American Bar Association, Miles to Go 2000: Progress of Minorities in the Legal Profession (2000).)

Since 1997, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) has advocated for the expanded hiring, retention, and promotion of minority attorneys in corporate law departments and the law firms that serve them.MCCA accomplishes its mission by hosting conferences featuring diverse practitioners and addressing diversity-related issues, creating a pipeline of new lawyers through its Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship Program, recognizing corporations and law firms that advance diversity, publishing research reports, highlighting the accomplishments and talents of diverse attorneys, and mentoring.

MCCA conducts two conferences: the CLE Expo and the Pathways to Diversity Conference.The CLE Expo will be held March 18 to19, 2010, in Chicago. What sets MCCA's CLE Expo apart from many other programs is that MCCA ensures a diverse slate of presenters and maintains a one-to-one ratio of in-house counsel to outside counsel.The Pathways to Diversity Conference, which will be held on November 10, 2010, in New York, is the nation's premier conference focusing on legal diversity.

MCCA's Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship Program awards more than $380,000 in funds each year to outstanding minority law students.MCCA helps fund its scholarship program through its Diversity Leadership Summit.This year, the summit will be held April 22 to 24 in Doral, Florida.

In five different regions, MCCA annually recognizes outstanding achievement in diversity by the nation's corporations and law firms.Corporate law departments receive MCCA's Employer of Choice Award.Law firms receive the Thomas L. Sager Award.

MCCA continues to be a thought leader about diversity issues within the profession.In 2009, MCCA published three research reports including Sustaining Pathways to Diversity: The Next Steps in Understanding and Increasing Diversity & Inclusion in Large Law Firms; Women- and Minority-Owned Law Firms: Taking the Pulse; and Examining the Role of the Law Firm Diversity Professional.

KAN-Do!SMMentoring is MCCA's award-winning Web-based mentoring program.Mentors and mentees are matched after completing an online profile.It is an excellent way to "give back" to the profession.

Diversity & the Bar, MCCA's bi-monthly magazine, features thought-provoking articles and highlights the accomplishments of diverse lawyers.

To close, in order to survive the challenges of tomorrow, we must nurture talent today.If you are interested in supporting MCCA's mission to help foster a more inclusive profession, please visit www.mcca.com.

Sincerely,

Brandon Fitzgerald