The Duane Morris DEI 360 podcast, hosted by Partner and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Joseph K. West, features candid conversations with legal and business leaders on the issues and challenges in our collective efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.
Episode 33: Being Seen: Why Visibility Matters to Dan Mitchell, Engineer and Patent Litigation Associate
Dan Mitchell shares his journey from graduating Georgia Tech with an engineering degree, working at the U.S. Patent Office while attending law school at night, to joining Duane Morris as a patent litigation associate. Dan understands he’s a rarity and “there aren’t a lot of diverse, African American engineers” and even “fewer diverse engineers with law degrees.” Growing up in southern Georgia, Dan didn’t know engineers or lawyers and now he’s both. For Dan, “it's very important that you have an example that you can see, because once you see it, it just seems more obtainable.” Having set out on an ambitious and daunting career path, Dan feels a responsibility “to be visible in my community” and “to let others see me” in the hope of inspiring others to reach for more than they thought possible, as he did. Dan also advises younger lawyers to find mentors, “someone that's been there and done that.” And if “they can't find anyone, tell them to call me, I will talk to each and every one of them. I'll take the time.”
Joe West talks with “one of his favorite people on the planet” Christi Campbell, IP partner and chair of the Duane Morris Women's Impact Network for Success (WINS), about how she got started in the legal profession and what her day-to-day looks like protecting branding and trademarks for well-known companies and individuals. Christi also shares how she went from being initially skeptical of the importance and need for women’s initiatives, to leading the firm’s WINS program, which provides opportunities for networking, leadership training, business development skills and advancement. Finally, Christi quotes Tom Petty when offering advice to young lawyers entering this difficult profession: “Don’t back down.”
Joe West talks with Executive Compensation and Benefits Partner John Nixon about his career path and how he helps clients negotiate their compensation contracts, which can be overwhelming and involve “a firehose of terms” and personal considerations beyond simply the money. The son of school teachers who “didn’t get stock options,” John understands that for “a lot of us, we’re the first generation in our family to be in this position.” He strives to be “a trusted advisor that they can ask questions of” and not “feel uncertain or insecure” in these pivotal moments. Additionally, John shares his thoughts on the future of ESG and his perspectives as a person of color in a field where that’s a rarity. Finally, John offers advice for younger lawyers: build the virtuous cycle and focus on being good at what you do. Then, “people will want to work with you and the work will follow.”
Episode 30: Dalayna Tillman: A Soaring Trajectory of Building on Prior Experiences and Being Open to New Challenges
Dalayna Tillman, Director and Global Environmental, Health, and Safety Counsel at American Airlines, talks with Joe about her career path, her work at American Airlines and how ESG and good corporate citizenship have been surprisingly longstanding values in the business world. As she was getting started, Dalayna found a way to make her passion for science into a career as an environmental lawyer, with stops in private practice, Amazon Web Services and now at American Airlines. Dalayna advises young lawyers just starting their journeys that “each opportunity is going to look different and it’s your obligation to take what you can from it.”
Mark Lerner, Duane Morris Partner and Chair of the Trademark, Copyright, Entertainment and Advertising Division of the firm’s Intellectual Property Practice Group, sits down with Joe to discuss joining the firm a month before the pandemic shutdowns, finding a community and his role co-chairing the firm’s Pride ERG. They also discuss how much progress the LGBTQ community has made and the many hurdles it still faces ahead.
Hector Chichoni, Duane Morris Immigration partner in the Miami and Boca Raton offices, talks with Joe West about his thriving corporate immigration practice, the very active and dynamic Latino/Hispanic Employee Resource Group he co-leads and what inspired him to become a lawyer in the first place.
Deborah Enix-Ross, American Bar Association president, shares how she went from growing up in Harlem to being the first in her family to graduate high school, college and then law school. Deborah’s legal career began in community legal services, a “sink or swim” experience that taught her how to be a litigator. Now a senior advisor to the International Dispute Resolution Group of Debevoise & Plimpton for her “day job,” Deborah also leads the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. She talks with Joe about her career journey and her thoughts on the future of the profession and why society needs lawyers in these tumultuous times more than ever before.
Miles Plaskett recounts his path from the U.S. territory to Georgetown and Georgetown Law and to Duane Morris, where he’s practiced corporate law for more than 20 years, focusing on project development and project financing in the Caribbean and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Miles talks about doing business in the Caribbean, cultural mistakes to avoid and the changes he’s seen in the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts over the years.
Joe West reconnects with his friend, mentor and hero Tom Sager, General Counsel at DuPont, about his pioneering efforts to push for diversity at DuPont and in founding the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Tom and the leadership at DuPont had the prescient vision and understanding that diversity was not only about elevating diverse talent, but that diversity creates a very real competitive advantage that benefits entire organizations.
Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner and CEO Randy Hayman talks with Joe West about his career and his responsibilities as commissioner and CEO of the Philadelphia Water Department. Often taken for granted, water is essential to everything. As Randy notes, “Water is life.” Managing this critical resource requires investment in infrastructure as well as drawing in a new generation of workers to tackle the challenges of providing water to our growing populations in the face of climate change.
Joe West talks with Rosa Ertze, partner in our Corporate Practice, about her leadership of the Hispanic and Latino Employee Resource Group and her thriving international practice. Rosa also shares why she became a lawyer and what she would change about the profession if given the power to do so.
Joe West and Joan Haratani have a conversation about her experiences as a Japanese American lawyer and leader, whose parents were among the approximately 112,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II. Joan shares how that injustice and adversity became driving forces throughout her life and career to advocate for change. In addition to her high-profile litigation work, Joan has earned numerous accolades for her efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession, including the ABA’s 2021 Margaret Brent Award and the Chambers USA’s 2020 Outstanding Contribution to Furthering the Advancement of Diversity in the Legal Profession Award.
Eve Klein, chair of the firm’s Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, discusses the changing legal landscape and the importance of diversity in the era of remote work, the Great Resignation and the pandemic.
Duane Morris Partner Brad Molotsky talks with Joe West about how ESG is changing minds and the business world as the marketplace increasingly demands corporate responsibility across a range of issues: the environment, diversity, equity and inclusion and good governance. Having a strong ESG program is a competitive advantage that improves the bottom line and attracts the best talent, while addressing issues that affect everyone.
Episode 19: Angela Winfield: Leaning into the Tough Questions on Diversity as a “Blind, Black Woman”
Angela Winfield, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for the Law School Admission Council, talks with Joe West about her work to encourage diverse and talented individuals to see themselves in the legal industry and to support them through law school and their legal careers. Describing herself as “proudly and unabashedly a blind, Black woman” who “owns all three of those things fully,” Angela shares how her own challenging journey drives her to forge a path for those following in her footsteps.
Joe West talks with Alain Villeneuve about what drew him to the firm, how being LGBT and an immigrant shaped his career and experiences and the importance of finding the positives when our social progress seems stalled and suffers setbacks.
Duane Morris Partner and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Joseph K. West speaks with the actor, activist and entrepreneur Wendell Pierce on issues of concern to communities of color and Wendell’s recent entry into media ownership.
Joe West talks with Damon Hewitt about his career of fighting for civil rights and racial justice.
Joe talks with Amauri Costa, Partner in our Duane Morris Corporate Practice Group, about his career doing business in Latin America and his role as co-leader of the firm’s attorney Hispanic and Latino employee resource group.
Aaron Ford, Attorney General of Nevada and the first African American to hold statewide constitutional office in Nevada, talks with Joe West about his career path and calling: to serve the public as a teacher, lawyer and elected official.
Joe West talks with Trial Practice Group Co-Chair Sharon Caffrey about leading the largest practice at the firm while maintaining her own active practice, developing the next generation of trial lawyers, how the firm combats implicit bias in assignments, and her advice for young lawyers in the hybrid workplace.
Episode 12: Austin So: The Evolution of the Trusted Adviser and Supporting the GC in Times of Transition
Austin So, General Counsel & Head of Sustainability of Armstrong World Industries, talks with Joe West about “the hot mess” of the first half of his career and how following his mentor’s advice to “ruin his resume” gave him the variety of skills and experiences needed to move up and into the C-suite. Austin also shares what led him to pursue a legal career, the importance of diversity and mentoring and the advice he has for young lawyers.
Episode 11: Noni Ellison of Tractor Supply on Career Growth, Professional Development and the Expectations of In-house Counsel
Joe West talks with Noni Ellison, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Tractor Supply, about her career path and the key to her success: finding a space where she can be her authentic self and bring all of her skills and experience to work every day.
Duane Morris Partner and American Association of People with Disabilities Board Member Mike Zullo talks about his work at the firm and with the AAPD to advocate for full civil rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities.
Episode 9: JAMS VP and CMO Mark Smalls on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Partner and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Joe West sits down with Yvonne Kilmer, Office Manager of the Duane Morris San Diego office, Co-leader of the Hispanic/Latino Staff Employee Resource Group, and Vice President of the Association of Legal Administrators, San Diego Chapter, about her experiences at the firm and her involvement in the community.
Joe West talks with Sherry Williams, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, Corporate Secretary and SVP of Human Resources at SMI (Strategic Materials, Inc.), about her career path and the importance of having your own personal board of directors.
Episode 6: Diversity, Brilliance and Intellectual Property – A Discussion with Former PTAB Judge and Duane Morris IP Partner Monté T. Squire
Joe West talks with Monté T. Squire about his career path – engineer, law school, administrative patent judge and member of the USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board – and the value a lawyer with deep STEM skills can bring to a business.
Erica McKinley, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of the Big Ten Conference, shares how mentorship – and her active approach to being mentored – helped build relationships and create opportunities throughout her career.
Episode 4: Michael Bernick: Raising Awareness of Neurodiversity, Creating Opportunities for the Neurodiverse
Joe West talks with colleague Michael Bernick, employment lawyer at Duane Morris LLP, about his experiences and efforts to raise awareness of neurodiversity and create job opportunities for people with autism, ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions. Michael serves on the board of the Autism Aspergers Spectrum Coalition for Education Networking and Development (AASCEND) and is the author of The Autism Job Club and The Autism Full Employment Act.
Joe West talks with the Hon. Shira Scheindlin, former U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York, about her career, the landmark cases she presided over, including the “stop-and-frisk” ruling, and why representation matters.
Joe West talks with April Smith, Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County, about her career and why she became a lawyer, her advice for young lawyers, addressing the lack of diversity in the legal profession and a reminder for lawyers who are fighting for change and progress to take time to care for themselves, too.
Joe West and Don H. Liu, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal and Risk Officer at Target, discuss the importance of creating a culture of professional development within corporate legal departments. Topics include building one's professional brand, navigating moving between industries and developing a career path in the legal industry. Recorded during the 2021 Reuters Events Legal Leaders conference.