McGuireWoods and Bank of America Partner for Progress On Diversity & Inclusion

In an effort to elevate discussions surrounding diversity and inclusion in the legal department, McGuireWoods and Bank of America joined one another in what proved to be an inspiring event for all.

McGuireWoods and Bank of America joined forces in an awe- inspiring setting Feb. 25 to elevate the discussion of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. The event, “Partnering for Progress in Diversity & Inclusion,” drew more than 200 attorneys from firms, corporations and government to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.

McGuireWoods Chairman Jonathan Harmon led a discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing companies and law firms and their shared need to make meaningful progress building and nurturing diverse and inclusive teams.

Joining Harmon were panelists Amy B. Littman, Bank of America’s deputy general counsel and managing director; Mark W. Johnson, executive vice president and chief legal and governance officer of Kimball International; Robert J. Grey Jr., president of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity; and Wade J. Henderson, former president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Harmon acknowledged D&I progress “has been stubbornly slow,” but added: “When I look at this wonderful panel and the many leaders in this space who are in the room tonight, it gives me great optimism.”

When I look at this wonderful panel and the many leaders in this space who are in the room tonight, it gives me great optimism. — JONATHAN HARMON

Littman said Bank of America conducts extensive analysis to ensure its outside law firms assign diverse legal teams to its matters, with women and lawyers of color playing substantive roles. When the bank evaluates law firms, “we want to know what you achieved that year, what you plan to achieve and, most importantly, we ask what we can do to work with you and help the effort.”

Johnson, a former McGuireWoods litigator, encouraged creativity: “We have the power to shape trajectories, to look into what’s coming up in the pipeline and to work with law firms to make sure the right programs are in place. I love the fact that companies are taking different approaches to this issue because that’s what we should be doing. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

Grey called on law firms and corporations “to be intentionally bold about the next step we take. This is the type of conversation and the type of engagement we have to have.”

Henderson said McGuireWoods’ collaboration with Bank of America for the “Partnering for Progress” event was groundbreaking. “I really want to commend both Bank of America and McGuireWoods for coming together to sponsor this event. I hope other banks and law firms can be encouraged to try to do what we’re doing tonight.”

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