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West Michigan Law Firms Form Collaborative to Promote Diversity in the Legal Profession

June 13, 2011

Managing partners from 12 West Michigan law firms met this morning to launch the Managing Partner Diversity Collaborative Agreement with the Grand Rapids Bar Association.

The Managing Partner Diversity Collaborative Agreement is a formal commitment between 12 major Grand Rapids law firms and the Grand Rapids Bar Association to work together to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the West Michigan legal community.

Varnum Managing Partner Larry Murphy and Varnum Diversity and Inclusion Counsel Joy Fossel participated in the June 13th event at the Grand Rapids Area Bar Association.

The collaborative has committed to developing a five year Action Plan by December 31, 2011. The Action Plan will address three initial challenges:

  • Increasing attorneys of color;
  • Improving retention and advancement of female attorneys and attorneys of color;
  • Expanding the pipeline of persons of color entering law school and the profession

To develop the Action Plan, the members of the collaborative will be divided into three committees focusing on pipeline issues, recruiting and talent retention. The committees will work through the summer to develop alternatives, targets and time frames for the five-year plan.

Once the Plan is launched, the committee will meet on a semi-annual basis to assess the success of the program.

"As a firm, Varnum has been working towards promoting diversity and inclusion for more than 15 years," said Joy Fossel, Varnum's Diversity and Inclusion Counsel. "However, the Managing Partner Diversity Collaborative Agreement is the first time area law firms will come together to create an action plan that will affect the community and the legal profession as a whole; I believe this will be a very powerful effort and we're excited to be a part of it."

Varnum offers one of the most progressive Diversity and Inclusion programs in the Midwest, including a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, ongoing firm-wide programming on diversity issues, and consistent financial support for diversity initiatives, groups, and programs in the community.

Participating firms in the Managing Partner Diversity Collaborative Agreement include:

  • Barnes & Thornburg, LLP
  • Clark Hill PLC
  • Dickinson Wright PLLC
  • Dykema Gossett PLLC
  • Foster Swift Collins and Smith, PC
  • Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone
  • Miller Johnson
  • Price, Heneveld, Cooper, DeWitt & Litton
  • Rhoades McKee
  • Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge
  • Varnum LLP
  • Warner Norcross & Judd LLP


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