A 2021 Barnes & Thornburg Diversity, equity, and inclusion publication
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When I began practicing law with Barnes & Thornburg back in 1996, we only had five offices – four in Indiana and an IP outpost, as I called it, in Washington, D.C. It was so much easier then to keep a pulse on the movements, if you will, of each office. In fact, then, given that the lion’s share of Team BT lived and worked in Indiana, there was a continuity to the way in which we told the firm’s story. Now 25 years later, we are a national law firm with 20 offices (and counting) across the country.
Nonetheless, this is not the same firm I joined in 1996. No, today there is a top-down commitment to better unlike anything I’ve ever experienced here. There’s a boldness attached to it, existing long before the murder of George Floyd. And the people activating it are doing so in such unique ways, representing every position on our organizational chart and spanning our coast-to-coast footprint.
So we wanted to use this edition of our DEI magazine to highlight some of that activation to you. And we thought, what better way to capture this than to give you a glimpse of how our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is activated, office-by-office? Thus, in the pages that follow you’ll certainly get some stories showcasing what we are doing on a firmwide basis to effect change, like the expansion of our DEI team, and our Talent Resource Group offerings to better care for our talent, and the continued and deliberate pipeline development of diverse talent with a 2021 summer class that was majority diverse, to the launch of BT Prelaw Scholars and joining the fifth cohort of Diversity Labs’ Mansfield Rule.
But the majority of what you’ll experience will be a look into the heartbeat of each office. It’s by no means exhaustive. And it by no means suggests that we have arrived. As I say time and time again, much work remains. The hope nonetheless is that upon experiencing the pages that follow, you come away believing that our commitment to change on the diversity, equity and inclusion front is real and indeed, reflected and tangible in every community in which we are privileged to call home. We think that’s a big deal. Enjoy!
While we have remained aligned and steadfast relative to our staunch commitment to our clients and the communities we serve, the way in which express who we are has markedly shifted. Perhaps such is because who we are has markedly shifted, especially as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion. As I have said many times, each are long-standing core values. In fact, I like to say that my journey from associate to capital partner – as an African-American woman – evidences this truth.
Dawn R. Rosemond
FIRM DIVERSITY PARTNER
Mandira Sethi, Staff Attorney
Hearing about and seeing the need across the firm, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work, BTParents – our Talent Resource Group (TRG) for parent teammates and their allies – held tight to its commitment to build a community of support and connection for working parents (and other caregivers) at every stage of life, birthing five targeted BTParents sub - committees:
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Likewise, BTAPA – our TRG for Asian Pacific American teammates and their allies – found it necessary to focus on law school outreach and formed a subcommittee specifically focused on just that. And it happens to align quite closely with our newly launched PreLaw Scholars Program:
Angela B. Freeman, Partner, Indianapolis
With an advanced degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, Aisha works in a wide range of technical areas, including immunotherapies, biotechnology, small molecule pharmaceuticals, agricultural biotechnology, and diagnostic assays. She counsels large multinational corporations, as well as a variety of startups and emerging companies on worldwide patent procurement, commercial clearance investigations, and diligence. She also provides transactional counseling, including on issues related to intellectual property licensing.
Aisha Hasan, Associate, Raleigh
MEET OUR INAUGURAL CLASS
Angela uses her 15 years of experience as a biologist to counsel clients on protecting their intellectual property, particularly in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and fuel cell industries, and to assist clients with mergers and acquisitions and procuring trademark and copyright registrations to protect their IP rights. She is also deeply involved in the community, is a recognized global champion for diversity in STEM and law, and currently serves as past-president of Women & Hi Tech.
Barnes & Thornburg has been a long–standing member and champion of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) since its beginning. Meet our 2021 LCLD Fellow and Pathfinder, partner Angela B. Freeman and associate Aisha Hasan, respectively, selected to represent the firm’s continued commitment to this important organization.
We recognize the path to law school can be a long and challenging one, requiring significant effort, time and money – and because of that, many talented students of color are dissuaded from pursuing it or are forced to delay and defer due to the financial requirements or complexities and confusion surrounding the law school application process. We decided to do something about it. Created and spearheaded by our Director of Law School Programs and powered by the firm’s external Racial Justice Committee and in particular, its member, partner Gigi Murphy, this initiative was born.
Our PreLaw Scholars program looks to support students of color in dealing with both the financial and administrative barriers so many face in their journey to law school, by offsetting some of the cost of their LSAT study course and exam fees, the Credential Assembly Service, and law school reports and application fees. Additionally, the program matches each prelaw scholar with Barnes & Thornburg attorneys to provide ongoing mentoring and advice through the entire process.
We believe this combination of support will not only help these students be better prepared and succeed in law school, but in their future legal career too. The program is also an investment in the future of our greater legal community – positively impacting the diversity of law students and enabling more people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to bring their perspectives and talents to the legal profession.
talent resource groups
Introducing Our Prelaw Scholars Program
“We are very excited to welcome the inaugural class of Prelaw Scholars to the Barnes & Thornburg family. They are all amazingly accomplished individuals and we are thrilled to be a part of their journey to law school,” said Sarah Evenson, the firm’s director of law school programs.
Congratulations to Kelly Atkinson, who was promoted to DEI Director. Kelly has served as Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator since 2018. In this new role, Kelly is now positioned to help drive strategy even more and to help lead the charge toward sustainable change.
“I’m pumped about our growing team because it will undoubtedly result in our ability to execute even more of the great ideas we have to create the most inclusive culture possible for all of our talent to thrive. Excited to get to work!”
- Kelly Atkinson, DEI Director
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Meet Marci Hunter, our firm’s new DEI Analyst, who joined Team BT in June to help further the firm’s commitment to better. Marci comes to us with a wealth of experience in strategic and data analysis and a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“I have always been very passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. I’m excited to join Barnes &Thornburg because of their commitment to being a champion for DEI. I feel honored to be a part of the diversity team under Dawn’s leadership. I am most enthusiastic about the opportunity to work on initiatives such as the Mansfield Rule project and the Diverse Supplier Program. The best thing about my role is that the possibilities are truly limitless! I am dedicated to making the most of it!”
- Marci Hunter, DEI Analyst
BLACK WOMEN LEAD
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Our Mission is:
To position all of our talent to win – individually, collectively, and for our clients.
We mean it!
and to ensure that Black women advance at Barnes & Thornburg and to eliminate any barriers to their success, the firm has partnered with national DEI consultant, Nextions, to understand the Black woman lawyer’s journey at the firm and to identify best practices.
At Barnes & Thornburg
The firm announced the launch of its Racial and Social Justice Foundation in June 2020, and just a few short months later, in December, granted a total of $200,000 to
four different nonprofit organizations dedicated to combatting racial and social injustice.
On May 25, 2021, (which marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd), Team BT hosted a firmwide “Day of Giving” to support the foundation’s current-year goals. The day was filled with fanfare all designed to remind us of the real difference and real change we can help make.
As a result of our teammates’ overwhelming support, this year, the foundation will be giving away six $50,000 grants in Chicago, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, New York, Raleigh and Washington, D.C.!
University of Illinois, College of Law Racial Justice Practicum
Firm External Racial Justice Committee Making a Difference
At the beginning of the year, the firm’s Management Committee voted unanimously to collaborate with national employee engagement company Emplify (now 15five) to assess and elevate employee engagement at Barnes & Thornburg. We are two survey-cycles in and have learned so much already. The goal is simple – “to position all of our talent to win.” Such is not possible without knowing where your talent stands. Driving engagement promotes better performance, retention and belonging. And it demonstrates care which is one of our three key pillars – Sponsorship. The journey toward a highly engaged workforce is a long one and in many instances requires a culture shift. For us, it’s nonetheless a journey worth taking.
Taking Employee Engagement Seriously
Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certification Process
MEET OUR SUMMER CLASS 2021
SEe what the grant DID FOR All Square in Minneapolis!
see what the grant did for SJLI in
In Q1 2021, Barnes & Thornburg solicited the services of White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP) to host six firmwide learning labs designed to elevate our individual and collective consciousness around the very real and frankly very challenging topic of race. Over the course of three months, Team BT participated in the following sessions:
Having Courageous Conversations About Race
Full Diversity Partnership: Moving from Bystander to Ally
White Men as Champions for Inclusion
Leading Across Difference: Specific Actions to Build a Culture of Equity and Inclusion
White Women: Leveraging being both Insiders and Outsiders
Leaning into Conversations with BIPOC Women and White Women
Education is critical to change and thus must be ongoing. Challenge accepted.
To promote sharing and to create “brave spaces,” the learning labs were not recorded. So we cannot show you what happened. Our teammates had a lot to say about this unique and thought provoking experience:
I absolutely LOVED the multiple breakouts .. It was so refreshing to be asked to learn and do at the same time.
Because I am passionate about this topic, and determined to improve our understanding. I’m interested in how we’re approaching it … the reaction … from others, and how to identify where we-- as a firm-- can do better. And we can do better.
I want to be a part of a conversation to build bridges of understanding between people. I also want to be more self-aware of how my words and actions impact others. Importantly, I want to promote peaceful resolution to problems in our community and country.
Because turning a blind eye to systematic racism does nothing to help the issue. We need to have these tough conversations with our peers if we want to move forward, no matter if we feel it affects us or not.
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CHECK OUT SEASON 2
A Lesson in Awareness, Empathy and Advocacy with BTAPA
Some Heavy Lifting Among Friends
Our signature Diversity Matters podcasts continue to be a source of mindful and refreshing dialogue – necessary to move us forward both as a firm and within our profession.
white men as full diversity partners
To position all of our talent to win – individually, collectively and for our clients.
To markedly advance the march toward a truly equitable legal profession by becoming the preferred firm and national standard of equity and inclusion for all talent regardless of background.
We strive to reflect the clients we serve and the communities in which we have the privilege to practice law.
We define, promote and embrace diversity broadly to foster authentic inclusion.
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion permeates every aspect of how we conduct business.
We are responsible stewards of our resources, taking care to use our influence, brand, purchasing power, and thought leadership to drive diversity and inclusion growth outside the walls of our firm.
We proactively seek out and pursue opportunities to better support, empower, and promote our talent.
We continuously look for innovative solutions to remain effective, relevant, and in tune with our clients’ values and business objectives.
From India to the United States, from paralegal and law clerk at Barnes & Thornburg to law school and then back to Barnes & Thornburg after passing the bar in February to begin her career as a full-time practicing attorney – that’s the powerful story of our teammate, Mandira Sethi. And it’s one that was deliberately fashioned by Mandira once her family immigrated to the U.S., powered by a deep desire to help individuals (like herself) successfully navigate the immigration process. Mandira has managed an average of 100 active family-based immigration cases, helping them realize the gift of citizenship she and her family experienced. We are so proud to have Mandira on Team BT!
Meet Our Newest Teammate
Summer Law Clerk
Our Diverse Attorney Pipeline has been going strong for three years and in Atlanta this year, we are proud to introduce Yusra Siddique, who was one of our amazing summer law clerks.
Modeling Servant Leadership
The Atlanta office has logged nearly
Leading from the bench
DeKalb County Superior Court Chief Judge and Barnes & Thornburg alumni Asha Jackson is the founder of Project Pinnacle, which was one of the inaugural recipients of the firm’s Racial and Social Foundation grants in 2020. Project Pinnacle provides life skill straining, legal rights and responsibilities education, and career development opportunities to nonviolent offenders, under theage of 25. Beyond the grant, the Atlanta office has stayed engaged with Judge Jackson and Project Pinnacle, inclusive of including Judge Jackson in one of the office’s recurring “all hands” meeting to discuss progress and more ways to help her affect change. And as a bonus (and Judge Jackson’s commitment and passion is an inspiration to many, Mandira included), Atlanta office managing partner, John Koenig, facilitated Judge Jackson swearing Mandira in as a member of the bar.
Former BT Partner, now DeKalb County Superior Court Judge, Becomes Architect of Change
pro bono hours to date. And last year, spearheaded by partner, Jim Leonard, the firm committed 10,000 hours of pro bono work over the course of three years in partnership with a client. That team has been busy providing dedicated pro bono assistance to multiple nonprofit organizations and those in need in their communities via Stand Together.
Welcome to Boston
Boston became the location for our 20th office, launched in 2021. Home to the largest concentration of life sciences companies in the U.S., Boston is a financial and innovation center. With a wealth of experience in the patent, copyright, trademark, licensing, trade secret, M&A, white collar and commercial litigation arenas, our team is sure to make an impact as they work to understand how to help these companies bring their innovations from idea to market.
Meet our 2021 1L Diversity Scholar
“Being a Barnes & Thornburg 1L Diversity Scholar has been impactful! My first year of law school – paired with my summer at Barnes – highlighted the countless practice areas and career paths available within the legal sector. As a first-generation law student, I’m continuously expanding my legal knowledge. I spent my summer learning from talented attorneys and assisting with unique legal projects. My experience as a 1L Diversity Scholar has been a formative part of my career and I am immensely appreciative of Barnes & Thornburg for this opportunity; the past 10 weeks, I grew my professional network, bonded with co-workers, and solidified my career interests.”
Kiara L. Butler,
University of Wisconsin School of Law
Walking the Walk
Since the murder of George Floyd, the firm’s Chicago office has been coalescing around ways to combat racial and social injustice. Such resulted in the formation of the Chicago Committee to Promote Racial and Social Justice, comprised of 34 attorneys and staff who collaborate regularly to create sustainable avenues for opportunities to serve, support, and promote organizations focused on such injustices.
The committee’s efforts are anchored by four sub-committees:
Internal Learning (Leads: Melissa Vallone and Genevieve Charlton, Partners)
Pro Bono (Lead: John Gabrielides, Partner)
Legal Services (Lead: Mark Kindelin, Partner)
Community Involvement (Leads: Tejas Shah and James Vergara, Partners)
Susan Moody, a legal administrative assistant in the firm’s Chicago office, has been a BT teammate since April 2010. But that’s not where it began … She started working with lawyers when she was just 17. The changes she has seen in the city over the years are remarkable. But there has been one unsettling constant – homelessness, addiction and mental illness. For Susan, those issues hit her heart hard, and she has often thought to herself, “There but for the grace of God go I.” So, she thought, what do I do? Her answer: bake cookies and sponsor meals. Susan has walked the streets of Chicago since 1976 and in doing so, has befriended many of Chicagoland’s homeless population. (Yes, for the record she’s been working with lawyers in the city for 45 years!) On these walks, she’s given out countless dozens of cookies and purchased many meals … She has no idea how many, but it is a lot! If it is best for that person, she’ll even take a food request, go buy it and deliver it back to them. At bottom, Susan has dedicates her life to meeting the needs of others regardless of their backgrounds.
Susan Moody, Legal Administrative Assistant
Susan chronicles her journey using #makingadifference, #payingitforward, #stillblessed. She sure is! Find her on Instagram @msmoo1.
Strides include an office-wide town hall, which allowed attorneys and staff to share personal experiences and social injustices they’ve witnessed. Continuing on through the year, they will be holding small group lunches to foster further internal dialogue on racial and social injustice.
Our Columbus office brings the same passion it brings to client service to the equally important tasks of building an inclusive team and forming meaningful community alliances. Since opening, the BT Columbus office has become a leader in inclusion and diversity efforts in the Ohio legal and business communities.
Says Columbus office managing partner, Bill Nolan:
We base our inclusion strategy on our core beliefs that everyone can lead and that we best accomplish inclusion at an individual level, meeting each person where they are.
Created and launched (in partnership with the Women's Fund of Central Ohio) a series of 12 events since 2017 dedicated solely to promoting gender equity in the legal industry, "GELI" - which are being modeled by law schools, clients and other firm offices
Involved with the inaugural event of the Arab American Bar Association of Ohio
Hosted a program with the National Asian and Pacific American Bar Association featuring the national executive director and board chair on supporting Asians in advancing past their glass ceiling to leadership positions
Hosted Black History Month events, including a historical lecture on the Tuskegee Airmen
Columbus Bar Association Managing Partners’ Diversity Initiative
Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Columbus Chamber of Commerce Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee
Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Ohio State Bar Association Labor & Employment Section D&I committee
Women Lawyers of Franklin County
Ohio Women’s Affordable Housing Network
Columbus School for Girls (CGS) Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Anti-Racism Task Force
Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC)
Team BT Columbus
Kelly Atkinson, DEI Director and Columbus Office Administrator
Bill Nolan, Columbus Office Managing Partner
– Bill Nolan, Columbus Office Managing Partner
At bottom, BT Columbus is known throughout the city (and indeed, Central Ohio), as DEI "Conveners.” Check out just a few of the ways they are bringing people together for good:
Hosted The First Generation Law Camp, in partnership with Capital Law School and Ohio State's LiFEsport, designed to educate urban high school students on the legal system and expose them to new opportunities
Participated in a panel discussion with Dr. Rhonda Talford Knight regarding race conscious leadership, "Race Matters" about the unique challenges of Arab Americans in the legal field
Getting Uncomfortable to Get Better
Our “A Call to Action” BT Dallas group formed a book club in the wake of the murder of George Floyd (and has been meeting monthly ever since), to discuss the book “White Fragility” and more. Each meeting, a different member of the group leads the discussion with the goal of elevating the collective consciousness and promoting empathy that Team BT Dallas offers one another, day in and day out, in their work and beyond.
Meet Our 2021 Summer + Diversity Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) Interns
2L Summer Associate
1L Law Clerk
Actively Celebrating 'Our Uniqueness'
Created weekly newsletters, hosted Faces of Black History bingo and interactive Black History Trivia Thursday, created presentation outlining African-American civil rights movement legislation and court cases covering Dred Scott v. Sandford through the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s
Black History Month
Created newsletter, hosted Faces of APA bingo event
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Created newsletter, hosted Faces of Women’s History bingo, created presentation outlining women in the legal profession, starting with the first women lawyer in America, circa. 1638 and showcasing trailblazing women through today, created LinkedIn series highlighting BT Dallas Women in “Herstory” flyers
Women’s History Month
Hosted a Bias Buster Trivia Challenge
National Hispanic Heritage Month
'Off the Record' with Partner, Juanita DeLoach
Want to be a part of the solution? Create your own show and take it on the road, if you will! That’s exactly what partner Juanita DeLoach did. To foster community, promote team building and just to hear and learn from firm leaders about their success and their journeys, Juanita created and launched an internal interview program called “Off the Record.” With nine episodes and counting under her belt, it’s fair to say they (and in particular, Juanita with her signature pink headphones) are a hit! More to come!
BT Dallas Bringing Our Celebration of Uniqueness Calendar To Life
As part of a broader firmwide effort spearheaded by our external Racial Justice Committee, in Q2, the BT Delaware office forged a partnership with the local chapter of the Delaware Urban League. The goal of this alliance is to leverage collective resources and talent to accelerate change in the Delaware Valley Metropolitan area.
Throughout the spring, the Delaware Law School (formerly Widener University Law School) hosted a weekly DEI workshop on subjects relevant to the school’s students and faculty, and in April, our very own, partner Tom Hanson participated on a panel titled “DEI and Placement,” which focused on diversity recruiting from the perspective of both the law school and the law firm. The panel (which included the law school’s assistant dean of recruitment) discussed their experiences, insights and best practices regarding recruiting diverse law students. Judging by the interaction, thoughtful discourse and engagement by the students, it is clear that being deliberate about recruiting diverse talent must be a part of any DEI strategy.
Collaborating With the Local Urban League Chapter
Doing Our Part to Increase Delaware Bar Passage Rates for Diverse Students
Just Keep Growing
This summer, the Delaware office added 10 prominent lawyers, top level government consultants, and staff who brought decades of experience and deep understanding of the state’s critical role in corporate law, along with public policy and political issues. Beyond their client-driven work and achievements, BT Delaware continues a drive toward greater inclusion – evident in their efforts to outreach to the wider Wilmington and in seeking out and recruiting new talent!
Casting a Broad Net to Deliberately Attract Diverse Talent to BT Delaware
The Delaware Diversity Job Fair
Each year, the Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section of the Delaware State Bar Association administers a Supplemental Bar Review Course designed to improve the bar passage rate among diverse takers. The course meets once a week and features a guest lecturer and practice exam that is graded by members of the bar. In July, partner Tom Hanson served as the guest lecturer on the subject of corporations, answering questions and grading 20 practice exams. What valuable outreach to the future of the industry!
Thomas McGonigle, Delaware
Meet our 2021
1L Diversity Scholar
“It’s an incredible honor to be named a Barnes & Thornburg 1L Diversity Scholar. The support and experiences I’ve received throughout my 1L summer have been invaluable as I navigate my way through law school and beyond. It is empowering to know that Barnes & Thornburg actively seeks out students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives in its recruiting classes and offers a scholarship to help those students cover the cost of law school.”
Alexander T. Gordon, Loyola University, Chicago School of Law
About eight years ago, the state of Indiana enacted an expungement statute. The statute was designed to create a way for eligible citizens to have their criminal convictions expunged and to make discrimination against those individuals unlawful. Because these laws are challenging, St. Joseph County Judge Andre Gammage, alongside his colleagues Judge Steven Hostetler, prosecutor Ken Cotter, and our partner Tim Maher and Team BT in South Bend and Elkhart, started “Fresh Start Fridays.”
So what’s Fresh Start Fridays? Glad you asked. In a nutshell, Team BT South Bend/Elkhart took to the streets, with Magistrate Gammage and his colleagues, to host expungement clinics, whereby people (on that designated Friday), could present in person to clear their record, ease their path to employment, and improve their life. To date four clinics have been held.
The response to each clinic was so overwhelming that people were literally lined up down the street to get in – and not only from Indiana, but from as far away as Florida and Minnesota. Not to mention, the community bonds created by these events have also been credited with solving at least one crime. Tremendous!
The success of Fresh Start Fridays placed a significant burden on the clerk’s office, in terms of processing all of the petitions and resulting orders. So, we worked with our diverse supplier to provide needed paper and toner. Win win! The clinics will resume this fall, and in response to an inquiry from the Indiana Supreme Court, we are exploring opportunities to take the project statewide.
In just one short month, the clinics have
Fresh Start Fridays
Helped 13 employees and their families
Helped nearly 2,000 people
Obtaining 759 expungements
Obtained 684 waivers of license reinstatement fees
Andre Gammage, Magistrate
Tim Maher, Partner
Taking Change to South Bend Community Schools
Building on the relationship with Judge Andre Gammage, Team BT South Bend/Elkhart, again led by partner Tim Maher, and the judge worked with the South Bend Community School Corp. (SBCSC) and its Technical Education Department to launch a mentor and education series for diverse students who have an interest in the legal profession. The goal of this series: to expose these students to the profession and to the building blocks of a successful career. The hope is also to forge a mentor relationship with these students so they are supported throughout their success journey. The inaugural class of SBCSC students is comprised of four black female seniors. With support from the South Bend bench, law enforcement, corporate partners, Team BT firmwide (including active participation by firm diversity partner, Dawn Rosemond), all hands are on deck to invest in these students success!
So what’s Fresh Start Fridays? Glad you asked. In a nutshell, Team BT South Bend/Elkhart took to the streets, with Magistrate Gammage and his colleagues, to host expungement clinics, whereby people (on that designated Friday), could present in person to clear their record, ease their path to employment, and improve their life. To date four clinics have been held. The results, in a word, have been phenomenal!
Obtained 759 expungements
684 waivers of license reinstatement fees
BT Fort Wayne Defines Its True North With Its Cultural Commitment
As many of us know, nonprofits have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. With large gatherings like fundraisers on hold and donor budgets stretched, fundraising is more challenging than ever. Team BT Fort Wayne – seeking a way to have an impact in alleviating some of this stress and strain – partnered with Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. to be a part of its “Meters with a Mission” program, specifically directing our efforts toward the Fort Wayne, Allen County Chapter of the Urban League. The Meters with a Mission program began in 2020 and has continued throughout 2021 due to its success. All of the profits from 30 parking meters across the city of Fort Wayne, were given to the designated organizations.
we're on a
We’re On A Mission
Savannah Robinson, Fort Wayne office administrator and chief legal talent officer, has served as president of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) for the past three years, leading numerous efforts to encourage and develop young leaders in the greater Fort Wayne area, including through her “Tough Talks” series. “I love courageous conversions. In 2020, we all experienced hardship and I told myself and everyone who would listen that there was a message in the mess,” Savannah said. “In one of my last big moves as YLNI president, along with a fellow board member, we wanted to make a change and take action – if it impacted or changed the life of just one person, it would be a success.” That evening, YLNI Tough Talks was born. “In November 2020, I was honored to moderated our first panel discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion. I asked the hard questions and dug deep on racism and how we combat it in our homes, communities and organizations. People cried, connected and walked away inspired to take action, big and small, to move us toward true equality. The series has continued, with the goal of seeking to listen and understand because when we know better, we do better.”
Savannah Robinson, Chief Legal Personnel Officer and Fort Wayne Office Administrator
Talk About Race Through the Lens of Art
Last year, in the height of unrest sparked by the murder of George Floyd, artist and influencer Theoplis Smith III of Phresh Laundry, created a mural for all of Fort Wayne to see, calling on leaders in the Allen County community to stop fighting and start talking. Our firm diversity partner answered the call, reached out to Theo and birthed an event entitled, “Talking About Race Through the Lens of Art” to tackle the difficult topic of race in a unique and thought-provoking way. Their conversation inspired the community and made room for real change.
check it out!
Dawn R. Rosemond
Firm Diversity Partner
Theoplis Smith III
With Theoplis Smith III
Grand Rapids associate Trevor Mason serves on the host committee for Lambda Legal’s ONE campaign, in Michigan. Recently, the office held an ice cream social to raise funds for his campaign, which resulted in raising $1,800 – exceeding the goal Trevor set!
Learn More About
Lambda Legal Fundraising
Associates Trevor Mason and Erika Weiss (as chair) sit on the West Michigan ACG, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Partner Mike Campbell and Trevor Mason head up our BT Michigan pro bono efforts, working most closely with Legal Aid of West Michigan and the Michigan Advocacy Program.
Deliberate Advocacy Starts Out of the Gate
Trevor Mason, Associate
Erika Weiss, Associate
Mike Campbell, Partner
'Tailored to Thrive'
BT Grand Rapids, Detroit Metro and Ann Arbor have come together to launch a new signature outreach called “Tailored to Thrive.” The goal is to collect gently used, interview ready clothing for both men and women. Those offices have partnered with four local high schools in some of our underserved communities to give their seniors a professional outfit – and even better perhaps, a half-day mentorship program. The outfit will be tailored specifically for them, with the help of other targeted individuals and businesses in the wider community. To date, the clothing drive has already begun, and the first mentorship event is set for February 2022. We can’t wait to help these students in discovering who they want to be!!
The Grand Rapid’s office “adopted” a refugee family of six from Nigeria, who had come here with nothing but the clothes on their backs. As a result (thanks to employee contributions), Team BT Grand Rapids was able to raise over $3,000 in items to supply the family with, not only a Christmas they will not soon forget, but the knowledge and feeling that we care and that there are those willing to help.
A 'Notable' Colleague
Mary Comazzi, of counsel, was named to the Crain’s Detroit Business 2021 Notable Women in Law list – recognizing her deep knowledge of and experience in the aviation sector, as well as her dedication to supporting research for children’s illnesses through two local hospitals.
Mary Comazzi, Of Counsel
Chris Burtley, associate, was appointed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to serve as a member of her Black Leadership Advisory Council, through December 2022, representing black lawyers.
Chris Burtley, Associate
A leading voice
“To me, being a diversity scholar means that I get a chance to materialize my personal commitment to diversity and inclusion with the help of Barnes & Thornburg to keep making the legal field a place attainable to those facing inequality in its many forms. It also means I get to participate in the firm’s efforts to look inward in self-improvement, which is an essential step toward the overarching goal that is achieving a welcoming and diverse work setting.”
Gabriela Ocampo Serrano,
Robert H. McKinney School of Law
As if serving as the firm’s Chief Human Resources Officer isn’t enough, Monica Crain also dedicates herself to uplifting the underrepresented in the Indianapolis community. From empowering women to tap into their strength in collaboration with the Indianapolis VIP Center to championing students from largely minority communities to explore careers in STEM and other fields in need of diverse talent in conjunction with the Direct Employers Institute, Monica is committed to leveraging her success for the benefit of others (both inside and outside our walls).
The firm’s external Racial Justice Committee is leading the charge to forge a relationship with the local Urban League chapters in each of our markets. Chief human resources officer Monica Crain and associate Alejandra Reichard are driving these efforts in Marion County.
PARTNERING WITH LOCAL URBAN LEAGUE
Chief Human Resources Officer
You almost have to be living under a rock not to have heard of partner Angela B. Freeman. She is not only a gifted attorney, but also has a brilliant scientific mind. She has incredible knowledge and skill in the molecular, cellular, biology, and pharmaceutical fields, gained over the course of 15 years before turning to the practice of law. That skill lends well to the work she performs for her clients, as well as in her efforts to advocate for women in STEM fields.
Such also causes Angela to be sought out for leadership positions within the Indianapolis community and beyond, including being named this year as host of a new diversity, equity and inclusion podcast produced by the Indianapolis Business Journal, “The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman.”
Angela’s changing lives! Subscribe. Like. Share!
Reaching As She Climbs
click to listen!
Indianapolis Partner Passionate About Promoting Diversity in STEM
Monica Crain Payne,
Chief Human Resources Officer
Director of Administration West Region
The Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) was one of the four beneficiaries of the $50,000 grants that were presented on behalf of the firm’s Racial and Social Justice Foundation last year. Recognizing the continued need beyond the dollars, in Q1 2021 Director of Administration, West Region, Melanie Mawema spearheaded the BT Los Angeles’ office participation in the SJLI’s “Food4Thought” fruit and produce giveaway. Over 150 cars came through the socially distanced – but still fun and important – event!
Affecting Change Beyond Dollars
See the action!
Free to Thrive is an organization that empowers survivors of human trafficking to be free from exploitation and to thrive. In a collaborative effort led by partner Eric Beste, alongside legal administrative assistant, Sarah Akerson, and one of the organization’s staff attorneys, Tamie Humphreys, BT Team San Diego works together with Free to Thrive and its founder, Jamie Beck, to identify areas in which they can get involved to impact the lives of survivors. The firm is taking a pro bono case and hopes to take more!
SERVICE BEYOND OUR WALLS
Legal Administrative Assistant
Congratulations are in order for our client, CalAmp, which was recognized as a “3+” company by 50/50 Women on Boards™ for having three or more women on its board of directors. This is quite a significant DEI-stride in the marketplace. We, at Barnes & Thornburg, are proud of their efforts and more so, proud to be aligned with such a value-driven organization. Way to lead from the front, CalAmp!
OUR CLIENTS LEADING THE WAY
Day-after-day, year-after-year, our Minneapolis office is deeply invested in not only partnering with organizations throughout the Twin Cities, but in striving to affect real and lasting change. Here are just some of the alliances Team BT Minneapolis has forged:
Partnering for Change
Taking on myriad of pro bono work and efforts is a hallmark of BT Minneapolis. Just take a look at some of what they’ve done . . .
Giving Back, In So Many Ways
Partners Bruce Little, Christopher Knapp, Steve Katz, and Mike Cavallaro, along with associate Maddie Buxton, successfully represented small-business owners in the strip mall where George Floyd was murdered, most of whom were immigrants or people of color.
MIDWAY BUSINESS CASE
RENDER FREE COLLABORATIVE SPACE
Several members of Team BT Minneapolis are lending their hand to assist, provide advice, and champion women of color. Kudos to partners Michael Cavallaro, Patrick Gallagher, and Christopher Lynch, and associates Sarah Odion Esene and Molly Sigler!
Partner Scott Rothenberger leveraged his experience to help protect the intellectual property of a minority-owned biotech company.
MINNESOTA KEYSTONE PROGRAM
The office donates 5% of its revenue in the form of pro bono work, every year, and has been recognized for its efforts in since 2018.
ADVOCATES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
So far this year, partner Bruce Little has filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of immigrants and had four of them released from detention.
Investing in Organizations Committed to DEI Throughout the Twin Cities
Office managing partner, Connie Lahn, will be honored with the Minnesota Lawyers’ Diversity and Inclusion award this fall for her efforts with the firm’s Racial and Social Justice Foundation, as well as how she leads by example for her teammates in the Minneapolis office!
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Minneapolis Commission for Civil Rights
Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers
Minnesota Women Lawyers (MWL)
Twin Cities Diversity in Practice
Volunteer Lawyers Network
American College of Bankruptcy
Welcome to new york
"It has been a challenge to lead a new office through a pandemic while working remotely – recruiting and building a team, integrating new arrivals into a new office and firm, and fostering camaraderie and a culture of inclusion. But nothing else is acceptable. My goal from the beginning has been to build an office reflective of the diverse clients and community we serve in New York. And firm leadership made it clear that was integral to their plan in seeking to establish a presence here. Such authentic commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has helped me attract incredibly talented lawyers to join us at BT New York.”
Setting the Tone from the Top
New York Partner-in-Charge
As it has become rooted over the past year and a half, the New York office is beginning to take on more community engagement, outreach and pro bono focuses efforts. Just by way of example, partner Larry Gerschwer serves on the Criminal Justice Act panel in the Southern District of New York, where he defends, most of whom are members of underepresented communities.
Rob Boller is on the Brooklyn Jesuit Prep board of trustees, a middle school in Flatbush that serves low-income families, as well as the advisory committee for Cristo Rey New York, a high school in East Harlem that likewise serves low-income families because he wants to serve and give back – and in these areas, approximately 100% of students live at or below the poverty level, 100% are of African or Hispanic/Latinx descent, and 80%+ are immigrants or first generation Americans.
In a very short time, since it has been open, Team BT New York has achieved over 80% participation relative to the firm’s Racial and Social Justice Foundation. Tremendous!
Hitting the Ground Running
Congratulations to Dharmi Tailor, of Roivant Sciences, a colleague of associate Aisha Hasan, on being selected as one of the Triangle Business Journal's 2021 40 Under 40 Award winners. BT Raleigh, and Aisha, couldn't be prouder!
Dharmi Tailor, Partner,
Legal, Roivant Sciences, Inc.
Building What They Don’t See
In the spring, partner Amy Fix was contacted by the North Carolina Bar Association Intellectual Property Section (NCBA) about hosting a diverse candidate for the summer – which met with resounding support from BT Raleigh. They brought Ryan Mahabir, a rising 2L from Wake Forest University School of Law (with a double major biology and psychology), on board. He spent the time learning about and working on several patent prosecution projects.
While DEI is a challenge in the legal field – it is double the challenge in patent law (a STEM-driven field). So, BT Raleigh was thrilled by the NCBA IP Section’s efforts and outreach, and most importantly, about its opportunity to be involved and chart a new path for more diverse talent in this historically underrepresented field.
NCBA Intellectual Property Intern
Partner Amy Fix was a recipient of the Triangle Business Journal's 2021 Women in Business Awards this year – not only for her professional accomplishments but her ability to build lasting relationships and to mentor others, just by bringing them into the dialogue. What a well-deserved honor indeed!
Leading By Example
Setting Our Sights High Out West
Partner Ryan Marshall in our Salt Lake City office serves as an ambassador for the firm’s Racial and Social Justice Foundation. The office is small but mighty – with nearly everyone contributing during this year’s Day of Giving!
Becoming a Strategic Partner with the National Society of Black Engineers
Alongside the firm’s legal recruiting specialist, Amanda Maillet, IP partner Eric Babych is collaborating with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to provide education to NSBE members about a career as a scientific adviser, patent agent or patent attorney. The goal? To build a bridge between Barnes & Thornburg and the NSBE – and to serve as a resource for members needing guidance and to potentially provide employment opportunities to members.
Amanda Maillet, Legal Recruiting Specialist
Eric Babych, Partner, Internal Racial Justice Committee Member
New Skills, Making All The Difference
Meena Sinfelt, Partner
Michelle Bradford, Partner
Office Managing Partner
Tabitha Meier, Partner
One of the firm's many efforts in advancing racial justice is its work with the Compassionate Release Clearinghouse, a volunteer effort by lawyers across the country to free incarcerated persons who have received sentences disparate to those of non-minority offenders, or who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 in federal prisons, where the outbreaks have been far deadlier than in the general population.
Beyond serving as the Washington, D.C., office managing partner, Roscoe Howard has dedicated his practice to creating leadership opportunities for women and lawyers of color. He currently leads at least two major global compliance engagement teams that are respectively 58% and 64% diverse. Leveraging those teams even further to invest in a class of diverse leaders, like Meena, Tabitha, Mike, and Michelle demonstrates diversity is central to my business.
Making the Business Case for Diverse Client Teams
Volunteering at Back-To-School: Serving Over 400 Children, with the Greater Washington Urban League
Hands-On For the Next Generation
The Clearinghouse is a joint project of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and other advocates. Volunteer attorneys receive training and support from the Clearinghouse to draft and file compassionate release motions for prisoners seeking to reduce their sentences under the First Step Act based on “extraordinary and compelling reasons,” most notably the current global pandemic. One of our own, partner Jordan Weinstein, logged over 250 hours in the pandemic year, writing motions, coordinating with clients, doctors, probation officers and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and working with other Barnes & Thornburg attorneys in preparing and filing their own compassionate release motions before the D.C. Superior Court.
I was looking for a way to put my legal skills to work to advance racial justice, and the Clearinghouse’s work spoke to me. My inspiration to get involved was the work done by my partner and D.C. colleague, Jim Van Horn, one of the first firm attorneys to work with the Clearinghouse, and to achieve the ultimate success: freedom for an incarcerated individual at great risk of contracting COVID-19. As an intellectual property attorney, working on compassionate release motions felt like trying to speak a different language. But no words can describe the feeling of telling an at-risk incarcerated client that they are going home because we convinced the judge to grant their compassionate release motion.
Either we are serious about change or we are not. Fielding diverse client teams is not only the right thing to do, it’s smart business. I am determined to leverage my business opportunities to make room for other diverse talent.