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Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity: Partnering with Its Members to Advance Diversity in the Legal Profession

Jessica Grossarth
Connecticut Lawyer
October 2014

The Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity, otherwise commonly referred to in the Connecticut legal community as “LCD,” is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 2003 by lawyers committed to advancing diversity in the legal profession. LCD, led by its Executive Director Carolyn Golden Hebsgaard, seeks to unite the resources, energy, and commitment of Connecticut’s leading law firms, corporations, public sector entities, law schools, bar associations, and affinity groups in the joint mission of making Connecticut a more attractive place for lawyers of color to practice law and find satisfying professional opportunities.

Currently comprised of 47 members, including 21 private law firms, five corporate law offices, ten government agencies, and 11 bar associations and affinity groups, LCD pursues its mission by coordinating and co-hosting networking events and innovative programming for all of its constituents with its members. The organization co-hosts the annual “Honoring Judges of Color Reception” with the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association to celebrate the achievements of Connecticut’s judges of color.  LCD also holds the Edwin Archer Randolph Diversity Award reception every spring to recognize and celebrate the achievements of an individual or organization dedicated to the inclusion and advancement of lawyers of color within Connecticut and surrounding legal communities.

Aside from the receptions and networking opportunities, LCD offers programs for law students, law firms, and lawyers of color on such topics as courtroom decorum, creating best practices, and how to be a successful summer associate/intern. LCD also organizes and operates a student mentor program that provides law students of color an opportunity to develop a one-on-one relationship with a lawyer from one of its participating organizations. The practicing lawyer provides information on various issues, including, but not limited to, the day-to-day practice of law, large law firm/government agency/corporate culture and assimilation, job research strategies and skills, law school courses, and related academic issues.  Additionally, LCD meets with its member leadership for input on potential future programs and activities.

As a partner with Pullman & Comley LLC and chair of its Diversity Committee, I lead my firm in its diversity efforts, including our activities and participation in LCD.  As is typical with other firms belonging to the organization, Pullman and Comley views diversity as a core value and strives to create a workforce that reflects the diversity of our society, enriching the work environment with multiple perspectives and experiences that enhance both our strategies for our clients and our contributions to the legal profession and the greater community. LCD operates from its members’ offices on a two-year rotation basis and,  given LCD’s parallel diversity goals and mission, my firm was esteemed with the opportunity to have LCD operate from our Hartford offices in 2010 and 2011.

Most LCD members have their central offices located in the Hartford area, and thus, most of the organization’s events and receptions in past years have been held in Hartford.  In an effort to help LCD to advance not only its mission but also its geographic impact, an event  for members and prospective members was held in the spring  at Pullman & Comley’s Bridgeport office, which was well attended.The organization is hopeful that this event was an important first step in LCD’s becoming as well known and influential in Fairfield County as it has been in Hartford County. Please stay tuned for more LCD events and come join us in furthering an important mission in the legal community and in Connecticut. Visit LCD’s website for more information at www.lcdiversity.com.

 

Jessica Grossarth is a partner in the Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights and Family Law Sections of the Litigation Department at Pullman & Comley LLC, and chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee. Reprinted with permission of the Connecticut Bar Association from Volume 24, Number 8. Copyright the Connecticut Lawyer.