Kimberly Leach Johnson featured in article “Q&A with Quarles & Brady Chair Kimberly Johnson: Clients Pushing Law Firms for More Diversity”Legal Executive Institute—Thomson Reuters Legal 10/11/16
Below is an excerpt:
Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law: How much of a part does diversity play in your firm’s culture, and has it always been that way?
Kimberly Johnson: During my tenure, we’ve tried to create opportunities for attorneys and staff firm-wide. I credit that in part to our past leaders who wanted to see everybody succeed. When we redid our strategic plan two years ago, diversity was a big piece of it. We embrace our diversity and are working even harder on our inclusion initiatives.
TWLL: Can you give some examples of how those opportunities?
Kimberly Johnson: Every time a new leadership role or a new position opens up, we make sure a diverse attorney is in the consideration mix. We do different training programs for all attorneys, starting with Junior Associates. We have QBU — Quarles & Brady University — and we also do training at the partner level. We recently sent 40 attorneys to a four-day session at the Kellogg School of Management [at Northwestern University], and also did a program a couple years before with Notre Dame. Of those two classes, 25% of those attending were diverse attorneys. We made it a point that we didn’t want everybody to look the same.
TWLL: Are there other initiatives to promote and retain diverse attorneys?
Kimberly Johnson: Every associate has a mentor, and diverse attorneys have the ability to have a second, diverse mentor if they so choose. We also have Diversity Councils that operate through each office and an organization-wide Diversity Committee. In addition, all attorneys are encouraged to grow their acumen and exposure by participating in pro bono opportunities and by creating or working with others to author thought leadership pieces. Sometimes we might see a young attorney who’s not thriving–they may or may not be diverse–so we’ll task a senior litigator: “You’ve got this trial going on. Can you reach out, let this attorney handle this case with you?” That’s worked out well.