Message From The Executive Committee
In preparing to deliver my message, I thought it important to advise the readers of this publication about the firm's commitment to our Diversity Program. However, as I began drafting this article, it occurred to me that who better to author such a message than the Chairman of our Diversity Committee, Butler Buchanan, III, Esquire. Prior to hearing from "Buck," as we call him, let me relay a few things about him as, knowing my friend and fellow shareholder, he would never advise you of his accomplishments.
Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin was fortunate when Buck joined our firm some ten years ago. Prior to that time, he had a distinguished career both as in-house corporate counsel and at another defense firm.
Buck serves as the firm's Hiring Shareholder. Obviously, in this position he is responsible for the recruitment and hiring process of the attorneys who join our firm, but, also, Buck routinely serves as a mentor for many of our younger lawyers.
A few years into his tenure at the firm, Buck was elected to the firm's Board of Directors. Based on the firm's structure of rotating members, Buck just completed his second term as a Board member, having gone off the Board in December 2008.
Buck has also been sought after by local and regional associations for his industry knowledge and obvious leadership skills. These include previously being on the Board of Directors of the Defense Research Institute, past President of the Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association. He is currently a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, and he serves as a Hearing Officer for the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
With this introduction, it is my pleasure to cede the rest of my space to Buck in order that he may describe the firm's commitment to diversity.
Several weeks ago Thomas A. Brophy, our firm's Chief Executive Officer, and I were on a telephone conference call with a claims executive of a major insurance client discussing a diversity survey that the firm had responded to at the request of that insurer. In addition to seeking raw numbers of minority attorneys and staff, the survey sought detailed information concerning the advancement of minority attorneys within the firm. It also requested a breakdown of which minority attorneys were handling that insurer's files and the amount of time spent by those attorneys handling that client's files in the prior year.
Our conference call with this client took place after the client had the opportunity to review and digest information we had provided in response to its survey. The purpose of the call was to identify strategies to get more minority attorneys involved in handling that client's files and to increase the amount of time spent by minority attorneys working on its files.
That particular insurer, and many of Marshall Dennehey's other clients, have made the point that when they retain law firms to handle and try cases in areas where the demographics reflect substantial percentages of minorities, those firms should seek to reflect the demographics of those areas. The insurer client referenced above is one of many firm clients that have made it clear that the firms they retain must be diverse. These clients' demands help to explain what we at Marshall Dennehey like to refer to as "the business case for diversity." However, Marshall Dennehey is and has been committed to diversity for many years because we feel that it is the "right thing to do." The current and prior leadership of this firm has overtly made the pursuit of a diverse population of professional and staff members a priority. While we will continue to pursue meaningful goals in this regard, we are realistic and accept the fact that in some areas where the firm practices, the minority population in general and the dearth of minority attorneys in particular, make it unlikely we will see significant increases in the number of minority attorneys or staff. In those offices located in or near major metropolitan areas, however, we will continue to aggressively pursue a diverse firm population. We are convinced that doing so is in the best interests of, and will provide the best representation on behalf of, you, our clients.
Diversity Outreach by the Firm
Marshall Dennehey recruits minority candidates in a variety of ways. In the Philadelphia region, over the past few years, I have established relationships with career placement officers at each of the six local law schools. Beginning in 2006, I began to utilize those relationships in order to identify and invite minority students from each of those law schools to an evening reception that the firm co-sponsors with two other law firms. Invitations are sent to each of the students, to leaders of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and to various federal and state court judges, who attend to show support for the diversity efforts of Marshall Dennehey and the two other participating firms. Each of the firms sends five to seven senior attorneys to participate in the evening. In 2006, at our inaugural event, 74 law students attended. In 2007, we had 102 law students attend, and over 80 attended in 2008. This has become our signature recruiting event in the Philadelphia region and has placed us on the radar screen of many candidates who were simply not familiar with our firm and who, historically, had not sought employment with our firm. Since the 2006 event, we have seen a significant increase in the number and quality of minority candidates who have sought interviews with our firm. As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of minorities hired as attorneys or law clerks in the Philadelphia region. We are assessing the viability of establishing a similar recruiting event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in other locales.
Marshall Dennehey also participates in minority job fairs targeting the legal industry in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. We are seeking to identify similar avenues for access to minority candidates in the other states in which we practice. In addition, as a matter of course, we seek to identify minority attorneys and law students interested in a career in litigation and invite them to apply to our firm.
Three years ago, the Defense Research Institute initiated an annual corporate diversity seminar that addresses issues pertaining to the recruitment and retention of minority attorneys and which provides a component for interaction between in-house counsel, insurance claims representatives, and minority attorneys. Our firm was one of the founding members that created this concept and planned the inaugural seminar, and we continue to actively support and participate in the seminar by sending attorneys to this event each year.
Minority Attorney Development
Several minority attorneys and staff members have earned positions of recognition within Marshall Dennehey. Among others, I note the following:
Niki T. Ingram is a shareholder, is the Assistant Director of the Workers' Compensation/Employment Liability Practice Department (firmwide), and is a member of the Board of Directors of the firm.
William L. Banton, Jr. is a shareholder and is the supervisor of the health care liability practice for the Philadelphia office.
John P. Gonzales is the Assistant Managing Attorney of the King of Prussia office.
Among our valued staff:
Luz M. Camacho is the Manager of Information Systems (Information Technology Department).
Brian Bailey is the Manager of Desktop Services (Information Technology Department).
Ulysses Oasan is the Network Administrator (Information Technology Department).
Marshall Dennehey has supported a minority attorney in the process of obtaining a leadership position in the Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, which resulted in that attorney eventually being elected President of that organization. The firm similarly supported that same attorney in seeking a leadership position in the Defense Research Institute, which resulted in the attorney's election to the Board of Directors of that organization. The firm is currently supporting an attorney who hopes to obtain a leadership position in the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia. The firm is also supportive of members of minority Bar Associations who wish to take active roles in substantive committee leadership positions.
Minority attorneys at Marshall Dennehey are members of, and participate in, numerous minority professional organizations, including the National Bar Association (membership is primarily African-American attorneys), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the National Hispanic Bar Association, and the local affiliates of these organizations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. Additionally, minority attorneys serve on minority and diversity committees and subcommittees of various national and local professional organizations.
It is noteworthy that we have achieved the success we have in diversity hiring despite the fact that several of our offices are located in areas where there is a low minority population and, simply, few or no minority attorneys.
While we are not entirely satisfied with our success in attracting minority candidates, in fact, we have had more success than most and as much success as any of the defense litigation firms with whom we compete. We have also had more success in this regard than a large majority of the other significantly sized firms of any type with which we are familiar in the geographic areas in which the firm has offices.
While we are not entirely satisfied with the current level of success in attracting minority attorneys to our firm, we are proud of our record. We can assure you that we will continue to pursue meaningful and reasonable minority attorney hiring and retention goals and that we will do our best to meet or exceed them.
Defense Digest, Vol. 15, No. 2, June 2009