On July 30, at Cleary Gottlieb in New York City, the Cleary Gottlieb Committee on Diversity and Inclusion hosted its annual Citywide Diversity Reception. Keynote Speaker Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, addressed an entire room of attorneys, students, and organization leaders about the significance of diversity in the legal profession. 

With over 20 years of experience, Mr. Taylor listed five key observations he has noticed about the modern trends of diversity:

  • First, as a community, Mr. Taylor stressed the importance in changing the current perceptions of diversity. Instead of viewing diversity as a concept that carries a sense of pity or morality, Mr. Taylor reasoned that law firms must realize that there is a compelling business reason to prioritize diversity. Diversity hires serve to keep the support of clients or help gain new ones. 
  • Second, Mr. Taylor was adamant that law firms must “fish in a different pond” for prospective applicants. For each law firm that pulls its applicants from the same sector of the population, they are essentially missing out on opportunities. 
  • Third, in hiring applicants from a different pond, Mr. Taylor stressed that law firms must be fair and reasonable in implementing their diversity programs. No real change can occur overnight, law firms must invest in time, effort, and financial resources to ensure the success of these programs. 
  • Fourth, in implementing these programs, law firms must hold diversity candidates accountable. 
  • Lastly, Mr. Taylor urged law firms to put more of their financial resources into these programs. 

After the end of the speech, attendees were invited to submit questions to Mr. Taylor, who then provided words of wisdom to all the law students in the room. He noted the importance of networking and establishing relationships because relationships matter.

After Mr. Taylor’s inspiring remarks, attendees were invited to continue networking and connecting over beer, wine, and appetizers.

AABANY applauds Cleary Gottlieb for its solid efforts in upholding diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. We thank the firm for hosting AABANY’s 6th Annual Fall Conference on September 19, 2015! 

Write-up by Chris Arcitio.