California Minority Counsel Program
The mission of the California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP) is to provide business and career development opportunities for California’s rich and diverse community of legal practitioners. As the new face of CMCP, executive director Marci Rubin aims to be the conduit between CMCP and its members.
Rubin’s relationship with CMCP developed during her twenty-nine-year career with Wells Fargo as a deputy general counsel, where she managed the company’s commercial lending legal work through many transitional phases. (Wells Fargo underwent three mergers and acquisitions during Rubin’s tenure.) “This was not an easy job to get as a woman in the 1970s,” she confides. But long odds did not deter her. She drew strength from a family background that valued diversity. “I was raised by my parents to pursue whatever career path I wanted to, and not to let my gender be an obstacle,” she asserts. Rubin also was an active participant in Wells Fargo’s corporate and law department’s diversity sector, which eventually paved her career path to take on an executive role with CMCP.
|Calender of Events|
September 2010 CMCP 21st Annual Business Conference
The Beauty of Diversity
See http://www.cmcp.org/events for more information.
Rubin returned to CMCP earlier this year. She’s been involved with the group since its beginnings in 1989, and was a previously a board member with the organization from 1998 to 2005. “CMCP’s diversity mission and values are those by which I’ve tried to live my life,” she explains, reflecting on the organization’s deep commitment to equal opportunity in the legal justice arena. Rubin will oversee CMCP’s final transition from an affiliate of the Bar Association of San Francisco to an independent, statewide organization, a process that will be completed this year.
CMCP takes a philosophical approach to growing the organization, as well as cultivating relationships with associates and partners, Rubin explains. “Our biggest goal for 2010 and beyond is to engage our membership. Our members need a voice. CMCP seeks to provide that voice.”
The association’s membership in the Bay Area legal community is comprised of Fortune 500 corporations, AMLaw 100 majority law firms, minority-owned law firms, public agencies, and other affiliates in the profession. CMCP’s firm belief is that diversity and legal talent are not mutually exclusive. Ultimately, Rubin envisions a legal profession where race and ethnicity are no longer factors hampering opportunities for professional entry and advancement. “Twenty years ago, diversity issues were not a priority in most law firms and corporate entities,” she observes. “Today, it is a core value.”
One pivotal CMCP program that opens those doors is Corporate Connections, a part of CMCP’s annual fall business conference in which the organization provides diverse attorneys a venue to meet and network. This conference provides an arena where diverse attorneys can delve thoroughly in, and speak candidly about, retention issues they experience in their organizations. It provides an opportunity for participants to cultivate their personal success, as well as extend their impact on their workplaces and the profession as a whole. Corporate Connections specifically facilitates focused and individualized opportunities for corporate and public agency counsel to meet with and identify minority outside counsel for future legal work.
In another ongoing initiative, CMCP focuses on career development of young attorneys by providing speaking opportunities, publishing substantive articles in its e-newsletter, and expanding the association’s use of social networking avenues. “CMCP is a safe haven in which to develop young attorneys’ networking and business development skills,” Rubin explains. “We need to take advantage of tapping into this young and diverse knowledge pool as the legal profession evolves. This, in turn, will provide more opportunities for CMCP members.”
According to Rubin, one of the organization’s core strengths is its incredible business focus. “CMCP’s primary mission has been to expand business opportunities for minority lawyers and law firms by building pathways by which they can connect with corporate clients and potential referral sources,” she elaborates. “When companies and law firms who belong to CMCP want to hire a lawyer, CMCP wants to make sure that they see a diverse slate of excellent candidates. We would like our members to take full advantage of their membership.
“I am more excited today about returning to CMCP than I was the day I started,” Rubin concludes. “I am energized by getting out there and meeting with attorneys all across the country. I’m having a lot of fun as executive director.” DB
Catherine Skrzypinski is a freelance writer and editor based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
From the May/June 2010 issue of Diversity & The Bar®