Chad E. Walker is one of just a handful of people in the LCLD community with experience as both a Fellow and an active Member.
Chad E. Walker was nominated by the McDonald's Corporation as an LCLD Fellow in 2012, became Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of Morton Salt Inc. in 2015, and nominated his first Fellow as an LCLD Member in 2016. Because of his unique position as both a Fellows Alumnus and a Member, LCLD asked him to share some thoughts on relationship building and what's working in the LCLD Fellows Program.
Use your status as a Fellow to leverage leadership opportunities within your organization.
Being nominated as a Fellow let people know internally that I had done things in my career to show that I had the wherewithal to lead one day. And soon thereafter, I was promoted to a division general counsel role and assumed a leadership position within the legal department.
Think about ways, in your everyday work lives, where you can display leadership qualities and demonstrate that you have sound judgment, that you treat everyone with respect and dignity, and most importantly, that you have uncompromising ethics.
Build a network before you need one.
People ask, how do you network? Just do it! There really is no blueprint. But you should network before you need the network so you can foster genuine and trusted relationships. People should know who you are, what you stand for, and the type of person you are before you try to leverage the relationship.
As for networking within the LCLD community, you don't necessarily have to be too strategic about it. It is perfectly acceptable, and quite frankly expected, that you would reach out to a general counsel, managing partner, or another Fellow – that is what LCLD is all about.
Use LCLD as a platform to build and enhance relationships.
With respect to my engagement with my Fellows class, I was able to foster some strong relationships with a couple of Fellows in my class. One in particular, Bruce Strothers, has become a close friend. We keep each other accountable and focused on the task at hand. It is truly gratifying to have developed a genuine relationship when, but for LCLD, our paths may not have crossed.
Being a Fellow also gave me some visibility with leadership. I had some great, informal mentoring relationships with general counsel outside of my organization. The initial interaction wasn’t facilitated through LCLD, but what LCLD did do was give me the confidence and a platform to develop relationships with senior leaders who were LCLD Members.
You’re investing in a person, not a position.
I just nominated my first Fellow, and I admit it’s hard to put a ROI on the program. However, you should be satisfied with sending a message that you want the Fellow to grow, that you’re letting them build a network and learn from other Fellows. Is there a risk that a Fellow could find an opportunity elsewhere? Absolutely. But we can't let that deter our duty to invest in an individual that we deem has the skills to be a leader one day.
Your Fellows have access to a national network of diverse, talented lawyers.
When you nominate a Fellow, you’re saying, I think it’s beneficial for the company to allow you to go out and build a network. The company does reap a benefit of someone having an expansive network, where they can pick up the phone and call someone from a different company or in a different industry and talk about what’s going on in the legal landscape. The Fellow is going to learn things they may not be privy to at your organization, and that knowledge is not only beneficial to the Fellow but to the company as well.
Participation in LCLD can change how others view your Fellow.
My first hire at Morton Salt was another Fellow. I instructed our recruiters to cast a very wide net, and so we posted the job with LCLD and other organizations in the legal diversity field. When I reviewed the resumes and saw the experience and skills of this particular applicant, and then noticed at the bottom of the resume that this person was a LCLD Fellow, that really resonated with me.
Now, did I hire the Fellow solely based on the fact he was a Fellow? Of course not. But it did help strengthen his position because I knew the Fortune 100 company that nominated him held him in high regard. It is a great endorsement.
For more information on the Fellows Program, email Lori Lorenzo.