#whynamwolfnow Campaign

July 28, 2020
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF

We spend a lot of time talking about the impact of implicit bias on minorities and women in the legal profession. I believe it is the number one impediment to us making positive change. I am not discounting conscious bias, but we are not going to be successful in changing the minds of those who consciously decide to discriminate. When learning about our biases, we usually focus on the same biases. One bias often overlooked is the incumbency bias. We typically prefer those who we have always done business with discounting their flaws, quirkiness and occasional mistakes. Conversely, we find flaws in the new attorney even if those same flaws exist with the incumbent or are not really flaws. Unlike the incumbent, we have a “one and done” mentality with the new attorney which places the new attorney, increasingly minority and/or women, in an unfair position. To combat the incumbency bias, we need to first be aware that the bias exists. We then need to make certain we are treating new attorneys fairly, taking steps to acclimate them to our processes, culture and idiosyncrasies. We need to understand that new relationships take both time and effort. We should think about assigning a law firm relationship manager to the new lawyer similar to the client relationship partner. #WhyNamwolfNow

July 20, 2020
Yvette Beale, Level 2 Legal
Silvia Hodges Silverstein, Buying Legal Council
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF
 

In an industry that began with the principles of justice and equity, it is our responsibility to contribute to the fight for equality in our nation — and the world. Silvia Hodges Silverstein, CEO of Buying Legal Council, recently hosted NAMWOLF’s CEO, Joel Stern and Yvette Beale of Level 2 Legal Solutions for a conversation about moving the needle for diversity & inclusion in the legal industry, the country, and local communities: https://www.level2legal.com/news/what-the-legal-industry-can-do-to-improve-diversity-and-inclusion. #movingtheneedle # diversity # inclusion #NAMWOLF #WhyNamwolfNow

June 24, 2020
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF

Recently, several have commented on all the actions we are going to take with respect to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Pronouncements have come from big law, in-house, governmental entities, affinity organizations, and consultants. Many are reassessing their diversity and inclusion programs and looking for improvements that will lead to better, faster and sustainable results. Several in our profession have a healthy amount of cynicism based on prior calls to action, without any action. I understand that.

No legal diversity and inclusion program is complete without a focus on supplier diversity. And, supplier diversity includes both the utilization of minority and women owned law firms and tier two legal suppliers. If you have a program that does not include giving these firms and tier two suppliers the opportunity to compete for and win your business, your program will not achieve the objectives you intend. If you are in-house, create a formal supplier diversity program. If you have a program, accelerate the progress. If you are a majority owned law firm, make it a priority to partner with minority and women owned law firms and always look for tier 2 legal suppliers. Also, reach out to organizations like NAMWOLF. We are here to help. #WhyNAMWOLFNOW

June 8, 2020
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF
Dear Corporations, Academic Institutions and Governmental Entities,
 
Yesterday, I requested big law to keep prioritizing diversity and inclusion, including finding opportunities to partner with minority and women owned law firms when the need for counsel presents itself (see below). Today, I make that same “call to action” to all of you. Now is the time for you to find opportunities to utilize minority and women owned law firms and to ask all of your panel law firms to always look first to use MBE/WBE law firms when they need another law firm to handle your matters. While you may be doing terrific things in the D&I space, if you are not focused on legal supplier diversity, (both tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers) you are missing a huge opportunity to make a difference and change the world. In addition, by pushing work to MBE/WBE owned firms, you are supporting your organizations’ supplier diversity programs. A pretty simple but compelling step. It’s time! #WhyNAMWOLFNOW #LegalSupplierDiversity #NAMWOLF
June 8, 2020
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF
Dear Big Law,
 
Our profession continues to be at the bottom of the ladder with respect to the hiring and retaining of minorities and women. We need to all work together to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes we made post Great Recession. Please continue hiring, retaining, showcasing and promoting minorities and women in your law firms. Recruit at schools you normally don’t visit, including HBCU law schools. Take more action regarding legal supplier diversity and help minority and women owned law firms thrive. Many of them came from your employ. They have impeccable credentials, do outstanding work, and are tremendous people. They showed incredible entrepreneurial spirit and courage to start their own law firms and all they want is the chance to impress. My ask is simple. You often require other law firms to assist on matters due to conflicts, local counsel needs, bandwidth, need for independent counsel, or practice area expertise. Look for MBE/WBE owned law firms every time this need arises. Find opportunities to partner with MBE/WBE law firms when responding to RFPs. Your clients will encourage and give you credit for this. NAMWOLF is a great place to find MBE/WBE law firms and there are other resources as well. It’s time! #WhyNAMWOLFNOW #LegalDiversityandInclusion #NAMWOLF
May 4, 2020
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF

None of us want to see what happened post Great Recession, when diversity metrics regressed at firms and corporate legal groups. Economic crises impact minorities and women more than others. Therefore it is imperative we take action NOW to ensure no regression. Recently, I have seen some great examples of our profession making it clear that diversity and inclusion is equally if not more important during this pandemic. One of the most compelling examples was a note from Craig Silliman, EVP & Chief Administrative, Legal and Public Policy Officer, at Verizon, to law firms Verizon uses. Kudos to Craig and Verizon Legal for making it clear that diversity and inclusion remains a top priority.  I hope other corporate legal groups take similar action and back up their words with actions. If we do this, there is a chance we will avoid the backward steps we took in 2009.

Verizon D & I Letter

April 28, 2020
Melford Walker, Wells Fargo & Company

My fellow in-house counsel: As many of us learned after the Great Recession, past hard won gains moving the legal supplier diversity needle can be lost if we become distracted and lose focus. While we all have much to keep us busy during the current pandemic, now is not the time to take your foot off of the gas in hiring quality diverse owned law firms, NAMWOLF law firms. Please go to the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms’ (NAMWOLF’s) website, www.namwolf.org, and start (or continue) to identify and select strong legal representation that will also help attain your company’s legal supplier diversity goals. A win-win at a critical time.

April 24, 2020
Clare Grossman, NAMWOLF

We invite you to take a few minutes to listen to a Podcast hosted by Chambers Diversity & Inclusion. The podcast features an interview of NAMWOLF CEO Joel Stern about the impact of COVID-19 business disruption on legal supplier diversity. Hosts Dee Sekar (Director and Chair of Chambers Diversity and Inclusion Global Advisory Board) and Luke Vincent (Diversity and Inclusion Advisor) also speak with Joel about his distinguished career as an in-house counsel at several large corporations, and how that experience informs how he sees the current crises. Joel offers valuable insights to help legal departments navigate today’s unprecedented challenges while remaining committed to diversity and inclusion. This podcast is essential listening for those who truly want to move the needle and be the change they see in the world.

PODCAST: Why D&I is more important now than ever, with Joel Stern, CEO of NAMWOLF

April 20, 2020
Jane Kalata, NAMWOLF

Many of you have undoubtedly heard me say that Cross Marketing is the hidden gem of NAMWOLF. The reason I’m such a fan is because it’s an excellent way for NAMWOLF Law Firm Members to generate business by building relationships and referrals with each other. I’ve seen this work many times over my years at NAMWOLF, and it’s always exciting and gratifying to see and hear about. During our current crisis, the importance of interpersonal connection is more apparent than ever—that’s why it’s so valuable that you check in and work with your fellow members. For a quick refresher on how Cross Marketing works, and some tips on how to do it, please click here to read the paper authored by our Cross Marketing Committee.

April 20, 2020
Matthew Morningstar, Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley’s Legal and Compliance Division is passionate about diversity and inclusion, and our support for NAMWOLF is an integral part of our program.  NAMWOLF  keeps in-house legal departments focused on ensuring that minority and women owned law firms have the opportunity to compete for and win business.  We are proud to support NAMWOLF and its member firms.

April 15, 2020
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF

Don’t Forget About Diversity and Inclusion During COVID-19: A Q&A With NAMWOLF CEO Joel Stern. “When crises hit, diversity and inclusion take a back seat if it is not embedded in the DNA of the corporations or the law firms. It is an easy thing to not focus on when you have 50 other priorities,” Read the article here: https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2020/04/15/dont-forget-about-diversity-and-inclusion-during-covid-19-a-qa-with-namwolf-ceo-joel-stern/?cmp_share#

April 13, 2020
Barbara Stevens, Prudential

As a longtime advocate for minority and women owned law firms I’m happy to lend my voice and elevate the conversation on #whynamwolfnow.  Prudential Fiinancial has formed strong partnerships with NAMWOLF’s impressive network of over the past 15 years and we look forward to building on those relationships. I encourage you to experience the value of NAMWOLF member law firms firsthand, too. Search for a firm here: or send a tailored request to see which firms have the expertise you need here: https://lnkd.in/evbKNZv

Search for a firm here: https://namwolf.org/law-firm-members/ or send out a tailored request through NAMWOLF to see which firms have the expertise you need here: https://namwolf.org/law-firm-members/firm-inquiry/.

April 13, 2020
Joel Stern, NAMWOLF

Diversity and inclusion in the legal profession is a moral and business imperative. It is both the right thing and the smart thing to focus on, especially during these challenging times. NAMWOLF has developed a CLE on this topic that has been given to hundreds of in-house counsel across the U.S. the past few years.  While it has almost always been given in-person, there is no reason why it can’t be presented virtually. And, while designed for in-house counsel, most of the CLE is also relevant to law firms and other groups interested in finding solutions to our profession’s diversity and inclusion challenges.  What a great way to keep diversity and inclusion top of mind and get CLE accreditation in either professionalism, ethics and/or state diversity requirements. More about the CLE is in the following link: https://namwolf.org/cle-corporate-legal-departments/

If interested in having this CLE presented to your legal group virtually or learning more about how NAMWOLF can help your legal group enhance its diversity and inclusion efforts while at the same time procuring the services of high quality minority and/or women owned law firms, please contact me at joel_stern@namwolf.org

April 6, 2020
Jane Kalata, NAMWOLF
 

In the last few weeks most of us have entered new territory and are now working 100% remotely for the first time. We have been extremely impressed by our Law Firm Members’ ability to adapt and quickly execute new remote work strategies. We’ve watched Law Firm Members who have operated as virtual firms for years offer guidance and suggestions to their colleagues, and it has been very gratifying to see.

Staying connected with each other is more important than ever. I will admit that I was not a huge fan of video conference calls until recently when I was asked by a Law Firm Member to jump on and test the technology before a member-wide call. Nothing replaces the experience of in-person interaction, but virtual calls do create a sense of excitement and comfort that at least approximates seeing our Members at a NAMWOLF event. We often hear from people that attending a NAMWOLF event is like attending a (non-awkward) family reunion. I wish we could bottle that energy and reproduce it virtually, and I hope that seeing familiar faces on your computer or phone screen is refreshing and reminds you that we are all in this together.

My quick suggestions to help you feel more connected:

1. Try a video conference call (you may actually enjoy it)

2. Pick up the phone to check in on a co-worker with whom you might normally spend 5-10 minutes chatting at work

3. Spend some time on LinkedIn to see what our Law Firm Members are doing, how they’re adapting to the new circumstances, and how they are expanding their practices

April 6, 2020
Rick Hammond, Walmart
 

Why NAMWOLF Now? The NAMWOLF mission – connecting well-qualified minority, women and LGBTQ-owned law firms to corporate partners – has always resonated with me.  Diversity and Inclusion should be in the DNA of all corporate legal departments, and moving the needle on D&I in the legal profession is not work that should only occur in good times.  NAMWOLF firms are highly capable and ready to serve their clients no matter what is happening in the world.  So, now more than ever, NAMWOLF and its law firms matter. #whynamwolfnow

March 30, 2020
Justi Rae Miller, State Farm
LinkedIn Post

Why NAMWOLF Now? I think by now, everyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about NAMWOLF, NAMWOLF Member Law Firms, and legal supplier diversity. My in-house colleagues; this is not the time to take your foot off of the gas in hiring NAMWOLF Member Law Firms. And, NAMWOLF makes it so easy to find a firm that meets your needs: 1) Search for a NAMWOLF Member Law Firm here: https://lnkd.in/eAFyQjb 2) Do an anonymous solicitation for NAMWOLF Member Law Firms here: https://lnkd.in/evbKNZv These firms are started by big law partners who are entrepreneurs. And, you can easily access high quality, strong representation who already do work for other corporations while supporting your company’s supplier diversity efforts. #whynamwolfnow Letsmovetheneedle!

March 30, 2020
Joel Stern, CEO
LinkedIn Post

A few years ago, NAMWOLF implemented a solicitation process that makes it simple for in-house legal groups to find NAMWOLF firms that can handle your legal work. Basically, you tell us what you are looking for by practice area, jurisdiction and any other criteria you have and we will share with our firms to see which ones can do the work. We can do it anonymously if you prefer. Think of it as an RFI process where NAMWOLF does most of your due diligence and shares with you the results. This process has been used by dozens of Fortune 500 companies the past several years to help companies find amazing women and minority owned law firms.

To make it convenient for you, we have a feature on our website where  you submit your inquiry online. Once your request is received, you will receive a confirmation email followed by detailed specific responses to your request. You can fill out and submit the form here. #WHYNAMWOLFNOW #NAMWOLF #LEGALSUPPLIERDIVERSITY

March 25, 2020
Joel Stern, CEO
LinkedIn Post

During these times, the challenge of balancing work and life (or even just standing on the bar without falling) are magnified. And, this is not about whether we can take vacations and forget about work; but more critical questions like ‘how can I keep my job and watch over my children at the same time?’ Managers/leaders must constantly communicate with their employees and be empathetic, innovative, flexible, understanding, and solution-oriented. Each situation has to be looked at separately. There are no cookie cutter answers. As leaders, we must understand that deadlines may have to be extended, our folks may need several breaks during the day to handle their other responsibilities, and work may be done during odd hours of the day. We also have to make certain unnecessary tasks are taken off of the table. We should be sharing what we are doing to balance with our employees as well. Our employees have to be comfortable letting us know when the ability to balance becomes overwhelming. And, we have to step in and work with them. There is nothing more important than our employees – it’s time to show them that!

March 23, 2020
Joel Stern, CEO
LinkedIn Post

NOW IS THE TIME to do everything within our power to ensure that the diversity and inclusion progress we have made in our legal profession the past ten years doesn’t slow down. Using minority and/or women owned law firms and tier 2 mbe/wbe owned legal suppliers is a crucial piece of this. Legal supplier diversity aligns perfectly with you company’s supplier diversity programs and take on even more importance now. The National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms can help you find firms that deliver outstanding quality and value in several different practice areas. Our 195 plus firms are all certified as either minority and/or women owned enterprises and doing business with Fortune 500 companies and governmental entities. Our firms have always been innovative and nimble and many have a long history of being set up to work remotely. If you know of NAMWOLF and use our firms, please continue using them and find more opportunities to work with them. If you are not aware of NAMWOLF, go to www.namwolf.org or find me at joel_stern@namwolf.org. For many of your organizations, D&I is a core value. Core values must not change based on headwinds. Quite the contrary, they must remain and guide companies as we all navigate through this unprecedented crises

March 16, 2020
Joel Stern, CEO
Email to All Members

Dear NAMWOLF friends and supporters,

First of all, and most importantly, I want to extend to you on behalf of the NAMWOLF team my thoughts for you and your family, friends and colleagues during this unprecedented and difficult disruption to your business and personal lives. I urge all of you to stay safe, healthy, and positive as we go through these next few months.

There will be many distractions in the upcoming weeks, but I want to let you know a few very important things as it relates to NAMWOLF and its mission.

NAMWOLF is and will continue to be fully operational.

Our team is working remotely and remains completely available to help our Member Firms, corporate legal groups and our valued Business Partners. Please reach out to me or anyone on my team if you have any questions. We are here to help.

Diversity and inclusion will always be important.

I encourage everyone in the legal profession to continue keeping a laser-like focus on the importance of diversity and inclusion in our industry, even as we navigate around the COVID-19 pandemic. This is critical, especially during challenging times.

Please continue to stay connected with all of the tremendous organizations focused on making our profession better. These include affinity organizations like the NBA, NAPABA and the HNBA, as well as other organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion including the MCCA, Diversity Lab, MIHCA, NGLCC, CCWC, CMCP and NAMWOLF. We at NAMWOLF will continue to be here for you, just like we always have been.

Continue demanding more diversity from your law firms, continue looking for opportunities to use minority and women owned law firms, and continue asking for more minority and women owned Tier 2 suppliers. And please continue attending our respective meetings (mostly virtual for the next several weeks), sponsoring our organizations and advocating for our causes.

It is NAMWOLF’s core belief that the best way to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession is to empower minority and women owned law firms. Please continue to look for opportunities to use them; you can find our outstanding firms by searching on namwolf.org, using our Solicitation Process, or by reaching out directly to me (joel_stern@namwolf.org) for guidance.

It’s critical that we continue finding opportunities for minority and women owned law firms to conduct business with corporations and governmental entities. During the Great Recession, many excellent smaller firms went out of business, including several minority and women owned law firms. Diversity and inclusion became an afterthought. Let’s learn from history and make certain we give these firms every opportunity to do business with you. They will not disappoint. Let’s not let several years of progress disappear as a result of COVID-19. Everyone loses if that happens. We each have a responsibility to ensure this does not happen.

The Annual Meeting in September is still on.

We fully expect to host our Annual Meeting and Law Firm Expo in Baltimore on September 13 – 16. In the meantime, as travel and meetings are restricted, our Practice Area Committees and Member Firms would welcome an opportunity to organize substantive CLE webinars for your legal team.

In times like these, I know that legal department budgets are under scrutiny and other priorities take precedent. However, I hope we can continue to count on your generosity and support to continue in 2020 so NAMWOLF can fulfill our important mission and keep doing what we are doing, especially during this challenging year. We have had a lot of success in the past few years, and we are determined to keep up the momentum.

The next few months will be challenging and painful, but I have so much confidence in our resilience as people. I know we will get through this.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me or anyone on the NAMWOLF team. As always, I thank you for your support. We look forward to seeing you in Baltimore.

Best regards,

Joel

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