Compiled for the LCLD Board of Directors every Wednesday, this digest is designed to brief you on the latest headlines about LCLD Members and organizations, as well as thought-provoking articles on diversity in the legal profession, talent development, mentoring, and leadership. Past issues of the Digest are also archived on the LCLD web site.

If you have questions about the Digest, or articles you'd like to share, please email Caitlin Puffenberger at

This week, in news related to diversity and inclusion...

1. Meet Microsoft’s New President

Fortune, 9/14/15

LCLD Board Chair Brad Smith was promoted to President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft Corp., a position that hasn’t existed since 2002. He will oversee all legal functions, as well as privacy, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability, and digital inclusion. Smith joined Microsoft in 1993, overseeing negotiations between Microsoft and the Department of Justice, and most recently has focused on creating a legal foundation for cloud computing. 

2. WATCH: The Law Firm & In-House Relationship

Bloomberg BNA, 9/15/15

LCLD Members Jami McKeon, Terrence Truax, and J. Stephan Poor weighed in on the importance of strengthening relationships between firms and in-house legal teams at the Bloomberg Big Law Business Summit. McKeon suggested building relationships by working together on pro bono and diversity programs, while Truax noted that the size of either department should never be a deterrent. Also featured were Seth Zachary, Chairman of LCLD Member firm Paul Hastings, and Michele Coleman Mayes, General Counsel of the New York Public Library.   

3. How Segregation Destroys Black Wealth

The New York Times, 9/15/15

Civil rights and fair housing legislation in the 1960s and 70s attempted to end unfair housing practices, but many African Americans still face subtler discrimination. Real estate agents promote segregation by refusing to show properties in high-income, predominantly white neighborhoods to African-American and Latino homebuyers, according to recent investigations by the National Fair Housing Alliance. Despite high potential home wealth, African Americans consistently lack access to fair loans, housing in better neighborhoods, and good schools for their children.  

4. Retaining Women Requires More than Feel-Good Affinity Groups

Texas Lawyer, 9/15/15

Millions of dollars are spent each year educating, recruiting, and training women lawyers, yet their representation in the upper ranks of the profession remains woefully low. Affinity groups are a common solution to the problem, but as the author writes, they "may have made people feel better, provided the illusion of progress, provided an opportunity for similarly situated women lawyers to commiserate; but they haven’t yielded results.” While acknowledging that the problem is complex, she offers a few solutions:

  • GCs can promote diversity by making it a priority when hiring outside counsel.
  • Men can set an example by mentoring women lawyers and giving critical leadership positions to qualified women.
  • Women can help themselves by asking for business, being willing to work with rather than against men, and being vocal about their professional wants and needs.

5. A Prescription for More Black Doctors

New York Times Magazine, 9/9/15

Xavier University in New Orleans sends more African-American students to medical school than any other school in the country, despite its small size, lack of funding, and scant resources. The school was founded on the principle that the low number of black students entering medical school was due, not a lack of ability or drive, but to poor schooling early on, and has tailored its courses to help students get quickly up to speed. Despite the success of colleges like Xavier, most universities “are content to recruit the most privileged and high-achieving students,” rather than working to help many other minority students realize their full potential.