LCLD Member and Cooley CEO Joe Conroy (center) and Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo (center, left), with LCLD Fellows at Cooley LLP in San Francisco. (Photos by David Gonzales)

Challenging the status quo, building more dynamic teams, and acknowledging the pervasiveness of the diversity problem—these are, as Cooley CEO Joe Conroy put it, “a matter of our survival.”

His words reflected the urgency underpinning the August 9 Leadership Lunch for LCLD Fellows that Cooley co-hosted with Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo in San Francisco. The event brought together 14 diverse private practice and in-house lawyers participating in LCLD’s Fellows Program, a leadership development program. They were joined by a Cooley team for discussion and brainstorming on some of the most vital issues facing diversity in the legal profession.

Conroy and Yoo shared their own stories of becoming diversity champions, detailing their growth and leadership, challenges, successes, commitments, and goals. Throughout the session, they encouraged questions and facilitated active participation and feedback. 

Yoo, who was a litigation partner at Davis Wright Tremaine prior to joining Uber, discussed her path to becoming one of the few minority partners at her former firm— an achievement that cemented her passion for helping other committed lawyers to break through barriers and take the legal workforce forward.

As part of Uber, Yoo sees firsthand the impact of a top-down management style that places diversity front and center: “Diverse leaders make diverse teams," she said. Yoo also emphasized that the time has come for law firm clients to stop asking for diverse teams and to instead expect them—and, if diversity is not present, to boldly counter with “Why not?” 

Conroy described his “extraordinarily impatient” efforts to build a “workforce diverse in opinions and perspectives.” He highlighted three elements essential to Cooley’s diversity commitment: a willingness to acknowledge weaknesses; meaningful tactics to promote diversity; and repetition to drive home the importance of the issues. 

Cooley attendees, all of whom work closely with Uber and also participate in the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, included 2016 LCLD Fellow Reuben Chen (pictured above), Jamie Leigh, Michelle Schulman, Samantha LaPine, Brittany Jones, Tammy Weng, and Chantal Hwang.

For more information on how to host an LCLD Fellows Leadership Lunch, please contact Nichole Velasquez, LCLD Fellows Program Manager.


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Photography by David Gonzales