Huge Successes and Historic Firsts at the LSBA Sixth Annual Conclave on Diversity in the Legal Profession

Huge Successes and Historic Firsts at the LSBA Sixth Annual Conclave on Diversity in the Legal Profession

The LSBA hosted its Sixth Annual Conclave on Diversity in the Legal Profession on March 8, 2013, at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge for a packed audience of approximately 250 people.  This was the first time that the program was held outside of New Orleans.  Although the venue changed, the great attendance and participation demonstrates that interest and energy surrounding this statewide diversity conversation did not.  Also for the first time in LSBA history, the Conclave could be viewed by members of the LSBA via live stream, provided courtesy of the Southern University Law Center.  This year's theme was "Leveraging Diversity Through Inclusion: Insights for Action."  The luncheon keynote speaker, Morris Dees, who is the founder and chief trial attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center, inspired the audience with his riveting accounts of many past and current civil rights cases.  Renowned diversity expert, Verna Myers (Verna Myers Consulting Group, LLC), enlightened participants in an interactive workshop on inclusion and strategies for being more inclusive within their respective organizations. 

Further, the Conclave highlighted two new morning breakout sessions: an invitation-only breakfast session for approximately 30 managing partners and corporate counsel and a session tailored especially for criminal practitioners, which attracted nearly 50 attendees.

During the invitation-only session, titled “The Louisiana Call to Action: The Relevance of Inclusion on Recruitment, Retention, and Mentoring,” managing and hiring partners of the mid- to large-sized firms that have executed the LSBA Statement of Diversity Principles were welcomed to the exclusive session with corporate counsel.  Corporate Counsel of several well-known companies facilitated a candid conversation discussion designed especially for managing and hiring partners within firms.  They discussed topics such symbolic diversity, mentoring, recruitment and retention, and various initiatives to create a more inclusive law office environment.  Corporate counsel present included the following: Dominique Bright-Wheeler (Vice-President, Assistant General Counsel-Bank, Capital One); Jade A. Brown-Russell (Counsel of Regional Operations, Caesars Entertainment Corp.); Gary M. Carter, Jr. (Entergy Services, Inc.); Endya E. Delpit, Counsel (Exxon Mobil Corporation); Sandra Diggs-Miller (Senior Counsel, Entergy Services, Inc.); Jennifer R. Guckert (Labor and Employment Counsel, Amedisys, Inc.); Regina Hamilton (Associate General Counsel & Assistant Corporate Secretary, The Shaw Group, Inc.); Van T. Lam (General Counsel, Regal Nails, Salon & Spa, LLC); Todd S. Manuel, (Entergy Services, Inc.); and Lauren B. McKnight (former counsel to FFC Capital Advisors).  Several firms were recognized for their outstanding diversity and inclusion efforts in the areas of mentoring, scholarship, innovation, and pipeline: Adams & Reese; The Glenn Armentor Law Corporation; Jones Walker L.L.P., and Kean Miller LLP.

During the criminal session, titled "BLIND JUSTICE: Dismissing the Indictment of Unprofessionalism," panelists discussed strategies to improve cross-cultural interactions among attorneys practicing criminal law; the value of diverse perspectives and experiences on a criminal trial team; and the impact of cultural incompetence and non-diversity on the administration of justice and our profession.  The panelists included Harry L. Daniels, III (Daniels & Washington Law Firm, L.L.C.); Jean M. Faria (Louisiana Public Defender Board); Jason R. Williams (Jason Rogers Williams & Associates, LLC); and Moderator James E. Boren (Attorney At Law).

The day culminated with two lively panel discussions. A panel of judges, titled "Adding the Weight of Hot Inclusion Topics: A View from the Bench" and moderated by Mayor Kip Holden (City of Baton Rouge) and Preston Castille, Jr. (Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips LLP), addressed hot diversity/inclusion topics.  The judges included Hon. Scott J. Crichton (First Judicial District Court); Hon. John M. Guidry (Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal); and Hon. Chief Judge Harry F. Randow (Ninth Judicial District Court). A second panel, titled "Searching for Clear Balance: The Professional Ethics Case for Diversity" and moderated by Christine Lipsey (McGlinchey Stafford PLLC), explored the ethical implications regarding diversity, cultural incompetence, and micro inequities. Dane S. Ciolino (Alvin R. Christovich Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law); Linda Perez Clark (Partner, Kean Miller LLP); Charles "Chuck" B. Plattsmier (Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Louisiana); and Jennifer Borum Bechet (General Counsel of Corporate Legal, Wal-Mart) generated an interesting debate that prompted comments and questions from the audience. A brief networking reception followed the program. Participants attending in person could earn up to 7.25 CLE hours, including ethics and professionalism.

The LSBA would like to thank its generous sponsors, without whom the program would not be possible:

Platinum Plus Sponsor
Kean Miller LLP

Gold Level Sponsors
Adams & Reese LLP
Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman Sarver LLC
Blue Williams, L.L.P.
Entergy Services, Inc.
Federal Bar Association – New Orleans Chapter
Gordon, Arata, McCollam, Duplantis & Eagan, LLC
Irwin Frtchie Urquhart & Moore, LLC
Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre, L.L.P.
King, Krebs & Jurgens, PLLC
Liskow & Lewis
LSBA Civil Law & Litigation Section
McCranie Sistrunk Anzelmo Hardy McDaniel & Welch LLC
Montgomery Barnett, L.L.P.
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
Proskauer Rose LLP
Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC

Silver Level Sponsors
Forman, Perry Watkins Krutz & Tardy, LLP
Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr and Smith, APLC
McGlinchey Stafford PLLC
Phelps Dunbar LLP

Bronze Level Sponsors
Committee to Re-Elect Attorney General Buddy Caldwell
Courington, Kiefer & Sommers, L.L.C.
Laborde & Neuner
LSBA Alternative Dispute  Resolution Section
MCCA - Minority Corporate Counsel Association
Northwestern State University Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, and Unified Public Safety Administration Programs Natchitoches, Louisiana
Whitehead Law Firm

Lunch Co-Sponsor
LSBA Young Lawyers Division

Conclave Coffee Service Sponsor
La. Chapter-American Corporate Counsel Association

The LSBA also would like to thank the Southern University law Center for collaborating with it to allow people to view the live video feed of the Conclave program through its website. 

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