During 2003, MCCA® awarded in excess of $40,000 in grants to local chapters of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC, formerly known as the American Corporate Counsel Association) to fund a variety of chapter led diversity initiatives.
ACC's local chapters in Texas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Chicago all found unique and creative ways to reach law students and attorneys of color with the grant. While the activities were sponsored by association chapters, law firms and law departments might find these ideas of interest in furthering their own diversity and outreach efforts.
ACC's Dallas Fort-Worth Chapter
ACC's Dallas-Fort-Worth (D-FW) Chapter allocated its MCCA grant to four distinct and successful initiatives. To kick off the program, the chapter continued its annual sponsorship of the "Sunbelt Minority Recruitment Program" for law students. Held every September in Dallas, the event attracts more than 900 minority law students at 18 law schools from Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. Lunch was provided for the participating students and, separately, for the recruiters. The chapter also coordinated a panel of in-house minority lawyers for a student lunch, which was comprised of representatives from J.C. Penney, Blockbuster, Travelocity.com, and Dresser. The panelists provided the students with valuable personal insight about their own law school experience and working in corporate law positions.
The D-FW Chapter also hosted a networking breakfast for in-house lawyers who attended the Texas Minority Counsel Program's 11th Annual Conference in Dallas, which attracted more than 250 attorneys. The featured speakers included the general counsel of General Motors, Shell Oil, Clear Channel Entertainment, and Duke Energy. Additionally, Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, San Antonio Mayor Ed Garza, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright were also in attendance.
The third D-FW Chapter initiative was to provide further support to the Texas Minority Counsel Program. The chapter sponsored the preparation and publication of the most recent Texas Minority Counsel Directory. When completed, the directory will be used as a valuable resource of professional information on more than 200 minority attorneys working in private practice and in-house in Texas.
The D-FW Chapter is also sponsoring one Asian attorney and one Asian law student to attend the 16th Annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Convention (NAPABA). This year's NAPABA Convention will be held in Dallas on November 11-14, 2004. The chapter intends to promote the event in its newsletter, On Point, and will assist in providing speakers for the event.
ACC's San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of ACC will use its MCCA grant to sponsor an internship in major league sports, which is considered one of the most exciting areas of law for many law students. The 2004-2005 Sports Law Diversity Internship will provide diverse students interested in pursuing a career in sports law an opportunity to intern with the law department of a professional sports franchise to gain invaluable first-hand experience.
The internship competition is open to second-year law students who are in good standing at participating Bay Area law schools: Stanford, Boalt Hall, Hastings, Santa Clara, and University of San Francisco Law School. Students who are selected will intern during their third year in either the fall or spring semester of the 2004- 2005 academic year, for a minimum of 12-16 hours per week. One internship placement per semester will be available with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the San Francisco Giants.
Semi-finalists will be selected by the ACC Sports Law Internship Committee and must complete an in-person interview with committee members and/or the supervising sports team. Candidates must demonstrate a sincere desire to pursue sports or entertainment law as a career.
ACC's Washington Metropolitan Area Chapter
The Washington Metropolitan Area Chapter (WMACCA) will also use its grant to sponsor an internship program called the WMACCA's Corporate Scholars Program. The program will create a "diversity pipeline" by providing opportunities to populations within law schools that may lack access to and/or knowledge of inhouse legal practice. Law students from the District of Columbia and Baltimore area law schools were invited to apply. WMACCA members responded positively to this initiative, sharing how well it dovetailed with their corporate diversity initiatives, and commitment to provide students with a strong and substantive legal experience during the 8-12 weeks. In fact, the responses were so positive that WMACCA decided to supplement the grant money to increase the number of internship opportunities. The students will gain exposure to inhouse practice and develop relationships with potential mentors. The first "class" of WMACCA Corporate Scholars began their internships by June 1, 2004 and thus far their experiences are going well.
ACC's Chicago Chapter
The ACC Chicago Chapter chose to use the MCCA grant to offer its membership several distinctly different programs that foster diversity in a variety of settings.
The first allocation of chapter funds was used to underwrite the 2003 Annual ACC Chicago December Holiday Social, held at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). The social enabled a diverse network of lawyers in the Chicago area to network and get to know one another in a relaxed festive setting. In addition, local African-American artist Kerry James Marshall, best known for his large-scale paintings, was featured in his show "One True Thing, Meditations on Black Aesthetics." The show displayed works using a figurative style in conjunction with African American iconography that addressed social issues stemming from the civil rights movement. As part of the festivities, museum docents led tours of Marshall's work, providing insight and background into the art as well as informal opportunities for small group discussions. The timing of the event also coincided well with the commemoration of the landmark civil rights decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
Grant money will also be used to fund a pilot internship program this summer that will offer law students the opportunity to work within corporate law departments. Three interns selected from local law schools have been placed in Chicago area in-house corporate law departments of ADP, Inc., PepsiCo, Inc., and McDonald's Corporation. Each student will receive a small stipend. Next year, the chapter plans to expand the internship program and get more local in-house law departments involved.
The remaining MCCA grant money will help fund the organization of a fall 2004 panel presentation titled, "Minority Attorneys as Depicted in Film." By bringing together nationally known attorneys, film critics, social commentators, and authors, the Chicago ACC Chapter expects to draw a great deal of interest and participation from chapter members, students, and the local legal community.
From the July/August 2004 issue of Diversity & The Bar®