LCLD Members Gather for First Ever Super Pledge Summit

Jerry Kang (left), former Founding Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UCLA, interviews Halimah DeLaine Prado, LCLD Board Member and General Counsel at Google, about her approach to leadership on DE&I. (All photos by Jay Haas)

On March 8-9, 2023, 30 LCLD Member Managing Partners and General Counsel convened at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, for LCLD’s first-ever Super Pledge Summit.

Hosted by Halimah DeLaine Prado, LCLD Board Member and General Counsel of Google LLC, and facilitated by Professor Jerry Kang, Professor of Law and former Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UCLA, the meeting was the next step in LCLD’s efforts to help Members close the implementation gap on the commitments laid out in their Leader Pledges.

The Summit opened with an interview between Kang and DeLaine Prado, with the Google GC sharing stories from her childhood and early career that helped shape the lawyer and leader she is today.

One formative experience was her decision to take on a clerkship after law school: “I realized throughout the clerkship that I didn’t want there to ever be a time that my opinions didn’t have red pen on them,” DeLaine Prado recalled. “My tolerance for growth, pain, and feedback should always be growing too.”

She also shared challenges and successes from Google’s efforts to improve diversity internally and with outside counsel, including through the Outside Counsel Diversity Accelerator Program. Launched in 2020, the initiative sets diverse staffing targets for law firms and provides a set of best practices around recruiting, development, and retention. Firms that don’t meet the targets or show material year-over-year increase in spending with underrepresented attorneys are required to complete an additional set of diversity initiatives in the coming year.

DeLaine Prado spoke about her strategies for getting internal buy-in, including executive sponsorship and providing data, and how it’s critical that leaders are willing to have uncomfortable conversations to drive results.

Using DeLaine Prado’s experiences and insights as a blueprint, Kang then moved into a session unpacking the challenges to building equity in the legal profession—starting with a primer on implicit bias, before moving into the specific challenges facing the profession, like internal resistance, lack of resources, and lack of collective action.

As part of the discussion, Kang shared a “collaboration machine” drawn from collaborative commitments in LCLD Members’ Leader Pledges. Later in the day, Members voted on the most challenging and most effective aspects of the machine. 

“Professor Kang is a catalyst for change,” said Joel Unruch, LCLD Board Member and General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at Accenture. “He has had a profound impact on my own thinking, and I was yet again inspired by his insights during the Super Pledge Summit. Professor Kang’s use of data, research, and experience, bias us towards action. I’m confident that the Summit will help us to continue to drive the commitments made in our respective pledges.”

Kang also shared an analysis of pledge commitments around collaborating on DE&I across the law firm-legal department divide. The result was a series of strategies—such as cross-training, sharing best practices, and providing incentives—and design choices—like standardization, personal involvement, and transparency—that Members were using or could use to work together on DE&I efforts.

“We’re building processes because individuals are not always going to remember to do the right thing in the heat of the moment,” Kang said.

Members then divided into groups—led by LCLD Members Anne Madden (Honeywell), Pilar Ramos (TelevisaUnivision), Kim Rivera (OneTrust), and Mitch Zuklie (Orrick)—to share the challenges and design choices in their own collaborative efforts, followed by a robust group discussion.

“Some of the most valuable insights came from talking with other leaders about what has worked (or not) in their organizations,” said Erika Arner (pictured below), LCLD Member and Managing Partner at Finnegan. “One of my favorite takeaways was the imperative to stop ‘diversity theater,’ where people talk about diversity, but nothing changes and no one ever looks at the data.”

In small groups, Members shared strategies and pitfalls in their approaches to collaborating on DE&I. 

At the end of the discussion, Members voted on the most promising modules, top design features, and hardest challenges in the collaborative space. (See the poll results here.)

Following a break for lunch, Kang shared a synthesis of themes that arose during the group discussion:

  • Clients can make law firms care, but they have to be efficient and effective.
  • There is no one else to solve this problem—both law firms and legal departments must be willing to innovate and try new things.
  • There is a communication gap between firms and clients around what they value most.

He then asked Members to review their Leader Pledges and make revisions or additions based on the day’s discussion; afterward, the groups reconvened for a final plenary session on potential pledge revisions and collective action solutions.

“It was helpful to spend time working on iterating our pledges to ensure they are not just checklists of what is already being done, but rather stretch commitments to do more,” said Arner. “There is no one else. We must be the ones to do something different to actually have impact.”

The day closed with a final poll on how LCLD can help support its Members in their efforts to collaborate on DE&I, with best practice-sharing and resources exclusive to LCLD Members topping the list.

LCLD is committed to giving leaders the tools they need to close the “implementation gap.” Stay tuned for more at our Annual Membership Meeting this fall, and keep an eye out for future Super Pledge Summits.

From left: Lisa Tanzi,  General Counsel at Microsoft; Doneene Keemer Damon, Immediate Past President at Richards Layton Finger; Pilar Ramos, General Counsel at TelevisaUnivision; and Shannon Higginson, General Counsel at lululemon. 

LCLD thanks Halimah DeLaine Prado, Kim Morioka, Nadia Granke, and the entire Google team for hosting this event. See below for the results of the meeting polls.