The cover story in this issue of Diversity & the Bar® is “near and dear” to my heart since the last time I practiced law, I did transactions work at an energy company in Philadelphia. Those years were an exciting time in my young professional life, and being the lead attorney for a huge corporate transaction can be a challenging, thrilling, and rewarding experience.
Yet in all my experience, I never faced the challenges posed to Joaquin R. Carbonell III, Carol Tacker, and their team at Cingular Wireless as they sought to complete in eight months what most lawyers would caution against attempting in 12 months. Their story is an interesting one and for those who are considering working in the mergers and acquisitions field, you’ll want to review the advice offered by several leading practitioners.
My years as a practicing attorney feel like a very long time ago. In fact, it has now been five years that I have been executive director of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. During this time, I have observed some fairly significant shifts in the legal profession and watched diversity move to the forefront of business priorities. It’s an exciting time to be focused on diversity issues, but every now and then you encounter a reason to question the progress being made and a reminder that we still have a long way to go.
One example is the number of general counsel who are women or minorities, which has continued to grow year after year. The strides that have been made support what most of us already knew, which is that no group has a monopoly on the talent, ability, and motivation needed to rise up through the ranks to the top spot in America’s leading corporations.
So when a list of the highest paid general counsel was recently published by Corporate Counsel, one would have expected that this list would include the names of many talented women and minority general counsel. However, when Diversity & the Bar took a close look at the list of top-paid chief legal officers, we were struck by the fact that the list was not very diverse at all. Where are the women? Where are the minorities? Are they underpaid? Be sure to review the article: “Are Minority and Women General Counsel Undercompensated,” in which Diversity & the Bar seeks answers to these questions and offers insight into how all attorneys should work to command the salaries they deserve.
In recent years, I’ve also observed a marked increase among law firms striving to diversify their partnership ranks. These efforts have made certain minority attorneys highly sought candidates in the lateral hiring market. The attorneys being sought have outstanding credentials and experience to boot, so one would think their transitions should be pretty seamless.
But what I’ve been hearing is that not all partners at the lateral’s new firm welcome their diverse partners. In fact, sometimes it is quite difficult for the laterals to integrate into the new law firm’s existing culture and structure. Diversity & the Bar decided to look at the challenges that several lateral partners faced in the hope that their experiences may help others make a smoother transition.
Veta T. Richardson
From the May/June 2006 issue of Diversity & The Bar®