Innovation to Impact: 14th Annual LCLD Membership Meeting

“Our mission is as spot-on as it’s ever been,” declared Rick Palmore, LCLD’s Founding Chair Emeritus, as he welcomed hundreds of Members and supporters to the 14th Annual Meeting at a pivotal moment in LCLD’s history. Meeting this moment “requires intestinal fortitude,” Palmore said, “but it also requires faith”—and a community of committed leaders willing to stand their ground.

It was a message that resonated throughout this expansive two-day meeting in Washington, DC.

Facing historic challenges ranging from the rise of artificial intelligence to recent court rulings on affirmative action, 270 members of the LCLD community rose to the occasion by affirming their shared commitment to DE&I and working to find innovative new approaches to fulfill LCLD’s mission: developing diverse talent, removing impediments within organizations, and making a positive, long-term impact on the profession.

See below for highlights from the conference, and click here for scenes from the meeting.

Navigating the Changing Talent Landscape

LCLD Member Liz Forminard, General Counsel of Johnson & Johnson, shares insights from her table’s discussion.

The first day of the meeting, for Pledge Holders (Members), began with a call to action from Palmore, LCLD President Robert Grey, and Kim Rivera, LCLD Board Chair and Chief Legal & Business Affairs Officer of OneTrust.

Inviting Members to “seize the opportunity presented by an era of unprecedented change,” Rivera led an interactive table discussion in which Members shared how recent developments, including Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action, have disrupted their organizations’ DEI efforts—and how they have responded.

Paradigm Shift: Strategies for the Modern Leader & Designing Machines to Drive Impact

Professor Jerry Kang (center) and colleagues Nilanajana Dasgupta (left) and Devon Carbado (right) help Members reframe their thinking on how to approach common DEI challenges.

After recapping the LCLD’s Super Pledge Summits, launched in March of this year, Grey welcomed back the facilitator of those summits, Jerry Kang, Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA. Kang reflected on the March meetings and shared tips on developing more effective DEI strategies, based on his experiences helping UCLA navigate California’s ban on affirmative action in the late 1990s.

Jerry was later joined on stage by Devon Carbado, Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; and Nilanjana (“Buju”) Dasgupta, Provost Professor of Psychology and Director, Institute of Diversity Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Together, they introduced the concept of using “machines”—templates aligning behavioral or procedural “inputs” to inclusive “outputs”—to analyze data and improve practices for hiring, retention, and other areas of impact.

Why Diversity Makes People Uncomfortable

Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place To Work, shares insights on how to build workplaces that are truly equitable and inclusive for all.

The second day of the Annual Meeting—open to the LCLD Community—kicked off with a renewed commitment to developing the next generation of legal leaders by making sure every colleague within an organization is valued.

Chair Kim Rivera urged the LCLD community of Members, Alumni, Diversity Professionals, and others to “move forward undeterred, with a spirit of joyful innovation, to make life experience part of the DEI equation and take our inclusion efforts to the next level.”

She then introduced Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place To Work, who spoke about the importance of trust, respect, fairness, and credibility in creating a great workplace culture—a requirement, he said, for DEI programs to flourish.

Language of Leadership: Leading Through Times of Crisis

LCLD President Robert Grey (left) interviews Cummins leaders Sharon Barner (right), Carolyn Butler-Lee (center), and John Gaidoo.

Robert Grey led a panel discussion and Q&A with three leaders at Cummins Inc.: Sharon Barner, Chief Administrative Officer and former Chief Legal Officer; John Gaidoo, Vice President & Senior Deputy General Counsel; and Carolyn Butler-Lee, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion.

They discussed how lawyers can lead in times of crisis, how best to create a sense of belonging and inclusiveness, how to evaluate the potential of up-and-coming employees, and what they hope to see in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision earlier this year.

Case Studies: Giving Feedback

LCLD Members share ideas and best practices.

Jerry Kang, Devon Carbado, and Buju Dasgupta returned in the afternoon with a brief recap of the Pledge Holder Day and an interactive exercise on the importance of honest feedback. Attendees reviewed a case study and then engaged in a robust discussion about how to give constructive feedback and engage in “norm nudges” that move their organizations toward a more inclusive approach.

The Path Forward

As the meeting concluded, Robert Grey shared details on upcoming Member events scheduled between now and the end of the year, and Kim Rivera urged Members to take courage from their fellow GCs and MPs in the LCLD community, and use this moment to advance the mission of LCLD by empowering the next generation of leaders in the law. 

She also challenged everyone in the LCLD community, when they return home, to look in the mirror and remember who they are—the leaders of the profession. 

A final word of thanks from Robert Grey captured the mood of this historic meeting: “We can do this, LCLD Nation. Yes, we can, and yes, we will.”

What’s Next?

See below for upcoming virtual opportunities for LCLD Members and Diversity Professionals.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Member Initiatives Manager Caitlin Puffenberger at [email protected].