CHICAGO – Diversity professionals from 67 LCLD Member firms and corporations gathered for a two-day, action-oriented program aimed at finding solutions to some of the biggest diversity challenges facing the legal profession.

“The hands-on experience these individuals bring to the table is a crucial piece of LCLD’s mission to build a truly inclusive legal profession,” said Lori Lorenzo, LCLD Program Director. 

The agenda for the meeting was created through discussions with a working group of LCLD diversity professionals, as well as surveys sent to 100 diversity professionals and 400 Fellows to identify pressing topics in diversity and inclusion.  

The program included a presentation from Robert Grey, LCLD President, about LCLD’s goals for the future and how diversity professionals can strengthen them and a presentation on LCLD’s What’s Working portal. But the majority of the time was spent on interactive table exercises and group discussions designed to develop strategies for making their organizations more inclusive. 

In the first discussion, diversity professionals explored the primary challenges and potential solutions around issues their peers had identified as some of the most critical – including “Conversations in a Volatile Environment” and “The Evolving Definition of Diversity.” Participants shared their issues and ideas with one another, and were asked to vote on the two they thought were most critical; over the coming year, LCLD will work with the diversity professionals to develop the ideas.

Attendees spent the second day learning about LCLD’s diversity scorecard initiative. Then, in a Shark Tank-style activity, teams had 90 minutes to develop a strategy for acting on law firms’ diversity data, and three minutes to communicate it to the larger group (and a panel of judges). 

Prizes were awarded for Most Innovative, Most Collaborative, Best Initiative Name, and Crowd Favorite. Winning ideas included the “D&I Diner,” where no “whine” is served, but appetizers, entrees, desserts, and sides provide many options for moving past the data to work on diversity and inclusion goals, and the Inclusion Scorecard Strategies and Solutions app, which encourages real-time collaboration between law firms and their corporate clients by allowing users to track data, partnerships, client satisfaction, and showcase/search diverse talent. 

After two days of planning for the future, diversity professionals were finally asked to think about the ways they are already having an impact, and submit ideas for What’s Working. This website feature from LCLD highlights the actionable, innovative ways Member organizations are making the profession more inclusive. 

“In my role as Chief Diversity Officer, I attend many diversity related events, but the LCLD summit was outstanding and a great help to me,” said John Iino, Chief Diversity Officer at Reed Smith LLP. “Assembling D&I leaders from around the country to collaborate, brainstorm, and push for innovative ideas is exactly what we need to continue to drive progress towards our goals of diversity and inclusion.” 

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Photos by Jay Haas