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August 3, 2018

Never stop improving….In the second quarter of 2018, Pullman & Comley (P&C) took a number of steps to renew and reaffirm its commitment to its diversity and inclusion (D&I) goals. The firm formally adopted a new Diversity Policy and continued its D&I work within the broader community. Below is a summary of our second quarter efforts:

Diversity Policy

In May, Pullman & Comley’s members formally adopted the firm’s diversity policy:

Diversity is not a “statement.” Inclusion is not a “concept.”  Being diverse is what we as a society are; being inclusive is what we should be.  That’s what Pullman & Comley LLC believes in, and that’s how we operate as a firm. We are committed to diversity and inclusion because it is simply the right thing to do.

In addition to our firm’s equal employment opportunity commitments, we embrace the following guiding principles to ensure that diversity and inclusion remain a core value of our firm:

  • Ensure that all firm employees are treated with respect, dignity, and civility.
  • Provide equal and equitable opportunities to each employee to maximize skill development and advancement.
  • Foster a firm culture that is welcoming and inclusive of all people, recognizing that individual differences strengthen the firm and enhance the level of representation we provide to our clients.
  • Provide positive leadership within the legal profession and the greater community regarding diversity and inclusion issues.

Recruitment

Also in May, the firm was proud to welcome Andres Jimenez-Franck and Snigdha Mamillapalli as summer associates. Andres returns to Pullman after completing the joint P&C/Yale New Haven Health System (YNHH) 1L Diversity Summer Associate Program and his 2L year at UCONN Law School. Snigdha just completed her 1L year at UCONN Law and joined the firm through the P&C/YNHH Diversity Summer Associate Program.

Through the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity (LCD), Jess Grossarth led the effort to institute a diverse college intern summer program at P&C. Monee Reis of the University of Rhode Island began her internship with Pullman on June 1. Kristen Perkins and Michael Marafito mentored Monee during her time with P&C and managed her day to day work assignments and needs. Like Snigdha, Monee will spend half of her time this summer at YNHH.

Sharing Core Values with Clients

On June 21, Jill Bicks attended a women’s leadership training offered at her client’s employer, where only ten years ago, there were no women in leadership roles. The CEO made it his personal initiative to change that. Now, discussion at the company has moved far beyond the question of whether it’s important to have women represented equally throughout all levels of the company, and instead is now focused on how to make that happen. Leaders at the training emphasized: i) simply having women in the conversation changes the conversation; ii) the CEO must walk the walk, communicate goals loudly and make sure there is accountability down the management chain which requires minimal monetary investment and a total commitment from the “C-Suite”; and iii) women who make a difference at work are 27x more likely to say that their employer is a great place to work.

Community Service

Connect-Us

Jill Bicks coordinated and organized all aspects of P&C’s new involvement with Connect-Us, a Bridgeport non-profit that seeks to provide Bridgeport youth with job skills and internships in order to develop their professional abilities and opportunities. Jill introduced P&C to the Connect-Us team and to the LCD community at the LCD networking event held at P&C on April 19.

Junior Achievement

On May 1, P&C in concert with Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut and People’s United Bank hosted “#BizDay,” a half day leadership and career-preparedness seminar for high performing female students from Bridgeport’s Central High School and its magnet program. The #BizDay seminar matched the girls with women professionals who could serve as mentors and demonstrate the variety of career paths that are possible. The seminar also provided a financial literacy workshop and a speed networking activity.

North Central Regional Mental Health Board

The North Central Regional Mental Health Board (NCRMHB) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that works with people with behavioral health needs, their families, and communities to inform and influence best practices, local and state policy, and access to resources to help ensure the success of people in recovery and to the growth of healthy and inclusive communities.

On June 27, Mike Kurs attended the NCRMHB annual dinner, and P&C is providing pro bono legal services to the NCRMHB to assist it with a merger or acquisition to help it satisfy a new contract being negotiated with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Kelly O’Donnell, Amy Murray, Mike Kurs and Steve Cowherd will be working on the project.

External Organizational Involvement

Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity (LCD)

  • On April 19, P&C hosted its Annual Fairfield County Networking Reception in our Bridgeport office where LCD member organizations came together to network and learn about Connect-Us. Pam Lewis, the Executive Director of Connect-Us, addressed the crowd about the power of performance and improvisation for youth professional development.
  • Throughout the second quarter, Mark Sommaruga and Bob Hinton continued to mentor law school students through the LCD mentorship program.
  • On May 17, several P&C attorneys attended the Edwin Archer Awards Ceremony where both Bill Aseltyne, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of YNHH and Moy Ogilvie of McCarter English, were honored for their commitment and contributions to D&I in the state of Connecticut.
  • On June 20, Jess Kennedy Grossarth attended LCD’s annual Board of Directors Meeting. In addition, Jess agreed to be on LCD’s Strategic Planning Committee which will serve to shape LCD’s mission for the next several years and assist with an organization succession plan.

Connecticut Bar Association (CBA)

  • On May 7, Erick Russell attended a CBA Diversity & Inclusion Committee meeting where the signatory assessment overview was discussed along with how the results tie into the Diversity and Inclusion Pledge and Plan.
  • On May 22, Jess Kennedy Grossarth was a panelist at the Connecticut Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Signatories meeting related to D&I training. The panel’s focus was to highlight the different training models employed in the broad variety of legal organizations the panelists represented, the impetus behind and focus of those trainings, the formats used, and successes and challenges.
  • Erick Russell held an Executive Committee meeting and networking event for the LGBT Section of the CBA, which took place on May 16 at Republic in Hartford.

Crawford Black Bar

  • On April 11, Erick Russell attended a joint Crawford/Hispanic Bar Association/Black and Puerto Rican Caucus event at Republic in Hartford.
  • On May 3, Crawford held its annual dinner at the Connecticut Convention Center. A number of Pullman attorneys attended the dinner.

Miscellaneous

  • Monte Frank continues to participate on the National Conference of Bar Presidents’ (NCBP) D&I Committee and Executive Council. The NCBP awarded ten diversity scholarships for bar leaders across the country to attend the NCBP Annual Meeting in Chicago in August.
  • On April 5, Jill Bicks attended the Fairfield County Community Foundation Fund for Women & Girls luncheon.
  • P&C was a sponsor of the Center for Children’s Advocacy’s (the “Center”) annual “Champion of Children Awards Gala,” which took place on May 8, 2018 at the Infinity Music Hall in Hartford. A number of Pullman attorneys attended. Founded in 1997, the Center’s mission is to fight for the legal rights of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children; it is the largest children’s legal rights organization in New England.
  • On May 15, several Pullman attorneys attended the Hartford County Bar Association’s annual meeting at which Helen Wan, attorney and author of The Partner Track, discussed how inclusion in a firm is necessary for success. Attorney Wan stressed that being invited to lunch with the right partner, being selected to work on the right deal, being assigned to the right mentor, etc., which cannot be objectively quantified, are all critical to success.
  • On May 24, Bob Hinton attended a symposium in Boston on the State of Diversity and Inclusion in the legal profession, presented by the Institute for Inclusion on the Legal Profession (IILP). The symposium provided an in-depth examination and review of cutting edge diversity and inclusion research and programs, updated statistical data about the legal profession’s diversity and inclusion and provided an analyses of thought leadership on different facets of diversity and inclusion issues.
  • On May 30, P&C hosted its annual women’s networking event at Workpoint in Stamford. The event attracted more than 100 women from the business, non-profit and educational communities and featured the non-profit organization, The Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County.
  • On June 4, Bob Hinton and Mike Kurs presented at a New York State Bar Association CLE seminar on “The Challenge of Achieving Meaningful Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession” at P & C's offices in Stamford.
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