Shared Values, Shared Strengths
This issue of Diversity & the Bar® is dedicated to the power of evolution. While all of us will experience myriad changes during our careers, few changes to the status quo are quite as stressful as being an employee of a company or firm that is undergoing a major merger and restructuring. Mergers bring lots of new faces, perspectives, and ways of doing things. With all of the changes, it’s natural to experience a range of emotions—from fear to uncertainty to self-doubt about where and how you fit in an organization that now feels less familiar. The evolution of any organization from the familiar status quo toward new, unchartered territory is actually a great time to reexamine core values and incorporate them into how you’ll choose to do business in the future.
Our cover stories tell the tale of how several successful corporations and law firms have achieved significant growth through merging with other successful organizations. In doing so, the organizations found that, through appreciating and tapping into each others’ unique approaches, they were able to strengthen and further their core value of diversity.
It takes a very special leader to empower and inspire an organization through periods of significant change. Over the course of the past few years, the legal profession has experienced a number of new challenges, including reexamining the role of counselor and client in the wake of unprecedented corporate ethical, financial, and accounting scandals. Now is an exciting time for leaders in the profession to help shape the dialogue that will influence how we, as lawyers and business executives, address these challenges. For the first time in the history of the legal profession, the two largest and most influential bar associations— the American Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel—will be led by African-American men. For all lawyers, whether you are a member of a racial minority group or not, it’s a time to celebrate that we’ve come a long way. Yet one more glass ceiling has been shattered, one more barrier has been overcome. Young lawyers everywhere will be inspired by the paths these outstanding leaders have taken.
However, with change, we are reminded of the need to reexamine core values. During these times of progress, we simultaneously mark the decline in the number of successful minority-owned law firms, and the shocking reality that at 43 percent of America’s most successful law firms, there are NO people of color admitted to the partnership. Recently, the DuPont Legal Function embarked on a study of the challenges faced by minority-owned law firms and will join other leading in-house counsel in attempting to identify approaches aimed at turning the tide and creating greater opportunities for all lawyers. We think you’ll find their report of interest, and MCCA® commends DuPont for continuing its role as a thought-leader for the profession.
Veta T. Richardson
From the September/October 2004 issue of Diversity & The Bar®