On Thursday, July 30th, I attended my very networking event as an AABANY intern. I had the pleasure of attending the Citywide Diversity Reception, which was hosted by the Cleary Gottlieb Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. What had started out with a crowded and delayed train ride turned out to be an unforgettable and fun night.

Despite being twenty minutes late, I still made it on time to listen to Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, speak about the importance of diversity. Mr. Taylor’s speech was both engaging and insightful. He shared many stories and discussed the importance of implementing a diversity hire system with a strong foundation that will last for years to come. In order to create a truly effective diversity hire program, law firms must be willing to devote time, effort, and money into the implementation of these programs. It is also important to note that these diversity hires should be treated fairly and held accountable for their actions. After Mr. Taylor’s speech on diversity, he spoke about networking and stressed the importance of building long lasting relationships.

After Mr. Taylor’s speech, the guests helped themselves to the stunning array of food provided by Cleary Gottlieb. Even though Mr. Taylor’s speech, the highlight of the night, was over, the night had just begun for me. I was eager to use the networking tips that Mr. Taylor suggested and meet some new people. The thought of networking was both frightening and exciting. There I was, a high school sophomore, surrounded by a room filled with intelligent people who were lawyers or soon to be lawyers. How should I start the conversation? What should I talk about? How do I make myself seem more confident and less nervous? Those were the questions that filled my head during the event.

I ended up doing better than I expected. Executive Director Yang Chen introduced me to some members of AABANY and many other lawyers as well. I ended the night with a conversation and a picture with Mr. Taylor. I left the event with a lot of advice and a better understanding of how diversity hire programs should be implemented in law firms.

Although this is my first networking event, it will definitely not be the last. I look forward to attending more AABANY events in the future.

Write-up by Angela Li.

To read Intern Chris’ account of events, click here.