Letter From The Chair Of The Diversity Section, ACC Southern California Chapter

2010-02-01 01:00

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

Association Of Corporate Counsel's Southern California ChapterSpearheads Diversity Initiatives

With over 1,400 in-house attorneys in Southern California, the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel ("ACCA-SoCal") is the preeminent organization of in-house counsel in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. As one of ACCA-SoCal's key initiatives, the Chapter has a longstanding Diversity Committee which has the mission of promoting diversity in its most inclusive sense among ACCA-SoCal members and those who serve them.

The ACCA-SoCal Annual Gala and Diversity Award

Among the Diversity Committee's responsibilities is selection of the Chapter's Diversity Award which is presented at ACCA-SoCal's Annual Gala Dinner. The Award is presented to a recognized leader within the local in-house legal community who has demonstrated commitment to and achievement in improving the diversity of the legal profession in Southern California. The law department or in-house attorney selected as the recipient of the Diversity Award is given the opportunity to designate a charity to receive a $10,000 cash grant to be used for diversity initiatives. Past recipients of the Diversity Award include the Southern California Edison Company Law Department and its General Counsel, Stephen Pickett; John Page, general counselof Golden State Foods; and Susan D. Liebson of British Petroleum.

The Diversity Committee is particularly proud of the words of praise from former President Bill Clinton who, as keynote speaker at the 2009 Annual Gala Dinner, commended our Chapter on the composition of the sold-out crowd of over 1,400 in-house and law firm attorneys as well as business executives and judges:

Think about how different this crowd looks than it would have if we were having this dinner 30 years ago. Just a bunch of lawyers, most of them looked like me: Old, gray-haired white guys in suits. Now, it's evenly divided among the genders, or maybe more women than men, racially diverse, ethnically diverse, religiously diverse, and politically diverse. This is a much more interesting crowd than it was 30 years ago.

The selection process is now underway for the recipient of the 2010 Diversity Award that will be presented at ACCA-SoCal's Annual Gala Dinner and Pro Bono Silent Auction on Friday, April 30. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will serve as keynote speaker for the event. For more information about the Gala Dinner or to purchase tickets, visit ACCA-SoCal's website at http://www.acc.com/chapters/socal/index.cfm.

Expanding Diversity Efforts

In addition to the Gala Dinner Diversity Award honoree, ACCA-SoCal promotes diversity through other initiatives including the following: hosting an annual "Profiles IN Diversity" reception to spotlight an individual in-house counsel and/or law department in Southern Californiawhose actions embody the principle that diversity works, makes sense and is beneficial to society as a whole (Past honorees include John B. Gatlin, General Counsel of Nestle USA, and Christopher P. Reynolds, General Counsel of Toyota Motor Sales, USA.); presenting "ACColades: A Salute to the Women Who Inspire Us," a showcase of extraordinary women in Southern California; the recent launch of an in-house counsel mentorship program which pairs members of diverse backgrounds with significant in-house experience with members of diverse backgrounds with less experience.


The Diversity Committee's achievements over the past several years have been in large part attributable to the excellent leadership and hard work of former chair Pamela Washington. I have now assumed this position and hope to continue the fine leadership tradition and expand the Committee's work. Special thanks to Bill Harn and Teigue Thomas (VPs of ACCA-SoCal) for their editorial contributions to this article..

Sincerely yours,

Renée Benjamin