A Note from the CEO...
By: Joel Stern, NAMWOLF
THE CURRENT LEGAL
The legal profession remains one of the least diverse professions in the United States. That pains me and I'm certain it pains most of you. While we have long admired the problem and many of us have taken steps to effectuate positive change, the problems continue to exist with no solution in sight. I entered the legal profession in the early 1980s (yes-I'm that old) because I wanted to be a leader and thought lawyers were leaders. Unfortunately-at least with respect to diversity and inclusion-we have failed.
The National Association of Women Lawyers' latest report indicated that women represent only 18% of all law firm equity partners and the typical female law firm equity partner earns a mere 80% of what her male counterpart earns. The National Association for Law Placement reports the percentage of African-American associates has declined steadily since 2009 when 4.66% of associates were black. In 2015, that number was down to 3.95%. The same report states the percentage of African-American partners has remained relatively flat. The number stood at 1.71% in 2009 and reached 1.78% in 2013 as compared with 1.77% now. I could go on and on with statistics that show the inequities that exist among minorities and women in our profession, but I'd prefer instead to focus on one easy step that in-house counsel can take to positively address this problem.
Minority and women owned law firms provide a more welcoming environment for ex Big-Law attorneys unhappy with the lack of diversity at large law firms. In addition, these law firms give their attorneys opportunities to attract clients frustrated with the legal industry's race and gender problem.
NAMWOLF is all about enhancing diversity and inclusion in our profession by focusing on supplier legal diversity. We are an organization that makes it very easy for in-house counsel to take positive steps by giving in-house the opportunity to see and meet more than 155 minority and women owned law firms up close and personal. Our Annual Meeting is the perfect opportunity to witness first-hand how great these law firms are and to meet with other in-house counsel from Fortune 500 corporations who actively use our law firms across the United States in a myriad of legal practice areas.
My challenge to all of you is quite simple. I challenge in-house counsel from corporations that want to change the world in which we live, to make the time to attend our Annual Meeting in Houston and get to know our organization and the 155-plus-minority and women owned firms that make up this organization.
It's a very low-cost proposition since our meetings are at no cost for in-house and include several CLE sessions, keynote speakers, in-house-only sessions, an expo where our firms are available to meet formally or informally, networking and a little bit of fun. While in-house counsel should continue to focus on making positive change by looking at "big firm" diversity, pipeline diversity and internal-focused diversity, NAMWOLF is the best answer to address legal diversity and inclusion from the supplier diversity perspective, while at the same time procuring excellent legal service from lawyers who understand the complexity of your business and the importance of developing relationships with you and your teams.
See you in Houston!
Joel Stern, CEO, National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms
|Corporate Spotlight: Shell Oil Company
Lauren Hunt, Esq., Alvarez Arrieta & Diaz-Silveira LLP, Miami, FL
Shell Oil Company is a proud member of NAMWOLF and shares NAMWOLF's vision of promoting a diverse workforce and supporting supplier diversity. Cynthia Bivins, Senior Legal Counsel, and Michael Thomas, Legal Counsel, together with Deborah Lewis, a partner at Blackwell Burke, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, are chairing the NAMWOLF Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas ~ September 14, 2016 - September 17, 2016.
Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more than 20,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future.
The world needs more energy
By 2050, the world's population is estimated to grow to 9 billion people, up from about 7 billion today. That is equivalent to adding another China and India to the planet. At the same time, the world's remaining supplies of oil and natural gas are increasingly difficult to find, unlock and produce. Factors include remote environments, complex geologies or even deeper water. So if we are going to meet rising demand, we are going to need energy from all sources. Undoubtedly some of that energy will come from renewable sources such as the wind and the sun. With a truly exceptional effort, as much as 30% of the world's energy could come from renewables by 2050. As the energy system evolves, hydrocarbons will continue to play a vital role in the coming decades, providing much-needed energy to fuel transport, in particular aviation, and make everyday products from plastics to steel.
Diversity & Inclusion at Shell
"The embedding of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in our business plans will help ensure we reach our goal of becoming the most competitive and innovative energy company. We must ensure our energy portfolio is attractive to both partners and customers. We cannot achieve this without a diverse workforce that reflects the diversity of our partners, customers and the countries in which we operate," said Ben van Beurden, CEO Royal Dutch Shell. "It is therefore vitally important that we do not view diversity and inclusion as a 'nice to do' or an 'add on' to business as usual. It must be at the heart of our business plans in the same way that safety is," he added. (Click here to keep reading)
|Spotlight Member Firm:
Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo
By: Susan Koval -- Nemeth Law, P.C., Detroit, Michigan
Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo is a full-service banking, business, complex commercial litigation, and real estate law firm. The firm represents a wide range of corporate and institutional clients including financial institutions, real estate developers, corporations, governmental entities, contractors, and business owners.
1. When was the firm founded and who are the firm's founders?
Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo was founded in 1997 by Juan A. Gonzalez, Randy Liebler & Bernardo Portuondo.
2. Who are the firm's current leaders and how would you describe the firm's culture and personality?
The firm's current leaders are Juan A. Gonzalez, Randy Liebler & Bernardo Portuondo with a firm culture focused on diversity.
3. What makes the Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo team so special?
We combine aggressive legal strategies designed to further our clients' interests with specialized knowledge accrued over long-term experience in our areas of practice. As a result, our law firm is dedicated to achieving our clients' objectives through strong litigation tactics or proactive dispute resolution techniques. Our focus is on furthering our clients' interests and taking their business operations in the desired direction. As a practical matter, however, we strive to attain our clients' goals while keeping financial considerations at the forefront. Feel free to learn even more about us at
Click to keep reading
Vendor Spotlight - NSM Insurance Group, Lawyer Cover Division
By: Angela H. France, Esq., PCT Law Group, PLLC, Alexandria, Virginia
As one of the premier program managers and underwriters in the insurance industry, NSM has been providing expert underwriting and risk management services for niche industries and select lines of business for over 25 years. NSM continues to expand through organic growth, new program development and acquisitions. Today, the company has grown to more than $500 million in annual premium and employs more than 300 prof
essionals in insurance, IT, marketing, accounting and operations at 9 offices throughout the country. NSM Insurance Group's size and national scope have helped the firm to establish and maintain strong relationships and partnerships with a wide range of the industry's top-rated carriers.
NSM has built some of t
he most successful programs for a number of niche industries including professional liability for lawyers. The Lawyer Cover Division of NSM specializes in law firms and the legal industry. With a customer base of over 350 individual firms, Lawyer Cover is continually growing. Lines of insurance written by Lawyer Cover include: Errors & Omissions; Employment Practices; General Liability; Property; Cyber Liability; and Crime. Law
yer Cover also provides its customers with risk management advice to further protect their life's work and investment against loss. (
Click here to keep read
Submitted by the Labor and Employment PAC
By: Clifford Hammond, Partner, Nemeth Law, P.C., Detroit, Michigan
Recently the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") dramatically overhauled union election procedures, reversed decades of established policy that could require a non-union employer to sit down at the bargaining table with a sub-contractor's union to discuss the contractor's employees' terms and conditions of employment, and made several high profile rulings about the legality of non-union employer's handbooks and work rules.
For employers who have never had a union or have little experience with the nuances of labor law, it is time to seek counsel on how to navigate these rapidly changing waters. Unfortunately, just when it seems employers need advice the most, new reporting measures announced by the Department of Labor ("DOL") represent an unprecedented obstacle to employers actually seeking counsel in some labor law matters. Employers and their attorneys will soon find their contracts and payments for advice may need to be publicly disclosed. If they do not do so, they could face potential jail time and significant fines.
Click here to keep reading
The Brave New World of the European Trademark
By: Jorge Espinosa, Esq., Espinosa Trueba Martinez, PL
|A Transition in the Law: Transgender Discrimination in the Workplace
Submitted by the Labor & Employment PAC
By: Karina L. Schrengohst, Esq.; Royal, P.C.; Northampton, Massachusetts
On May 1, 1989, the United States Supreme Court held that discriminating against individuals based on perceived non-conformity with gender stereotypes is a form of sex (gender) discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins
, 490 U.S. 228 (1989). Since then, discrimination based on transgender status or gender identity has been a developing area of the law. Recently, there has been a lot of debate on the local, state, and national level over access to bathrooms for transgender individuals. As the public debates this issue, legislators, administrative agencies, and courts are shaping the law that prohibits gender discrimination, including discrimination against transgender individuals. In light of this, employers should understand how to navigate through the legal landscape of an evolving area of discrimination law.
Some state legislatures have expanded rights and recognized gender identity as a protected class under state anti-discrimination laws. Other states, however, have tried to take steps to limit the rights of transgender individuals. Although Title VII does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on transgender status or gender identity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal administrative agency responsible for enforcing Title VII, has clearly indicated that discrimination based on gender identity is gender discrimination prohibited by Title VII. The EEOC has also explicitly stated that contrary state law is not a defense under Title VII. (Click to keep reading)
Religion in the Workplace
(EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. and Best Practice Reminders for Employers)
Submitted by the Labor and Employment PAC
By: Crystal Trotter, Esq.,
Martineau King PLLC
Whatever happened to the proverbial understanding that religion, like politics, is not necessarily the best subject for conversation in the break room at work? Undoubtedly, the rhetoric from the ongoing presidential campaign, the post 9/11 war on terrorism, the right to die narrative, and the recent decision by the Supreme Court affirming the legality of same-sex marriage are a few examples of issues that intersect with religious or personal beliefs which have once again upped the ante of watercooler small talk. What does this mean for employers and work environments?
While the EEOC is still focused on challenging systemic discrimination as set forth in its strategic enforcement plan for fiscal years 2012-2016, in the wake of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 2028, 192 L.Ed.2d 35 (2015) ("Abercrombie") employers should continue to be cautious and diligent, particularly as it pertains to workplace accommodations for religious beliefs and practices. The Supreme Court decided Abercrombie in June 2015 and, in an opinion by Scalia, the Court overturned a Tenth Circuit decision granting summary judgment in favor of the respondent (Abercrombie). (Click to keep reading
Submitted by the Transactional PAC
By: Roland Sanchez-Medina, Esq., SMGQ Law; Coral Gables, Florida
You've Got Marketing Questions, and MBPC Has the Answers!
Submitted by the Marketing Best Practices Committee
The field of legal marketing has what can be an overwhelming number of components: branding, social media, website design and content, networking, and so much more. Throw in attorney credentials and targeted marketing to specific practice areas, and there's a lot to keep track of! The marketing world is constantly shifting, and prospective marketers need to stay current on strategy trends. Fortunately, we've made this easier to do. Building on the marketing efforts of our member firms, we have created a committee that collects some of our great ideas and best practices: the NAMWOLF Marketing Best Practices Committee ("MBPC")!
We know that not all NAMWOLF Law Firm Members have full-time marketing staff at their disposal, so we have created a forum where seasoned marketing professionals share insights and best practices with lawyers who are interested in taking their firm's marketing to the next level. Our goal is to provide support, training, and advice regarding relevant marketing trends to NAMWOLF law firm members.
(Click here to keep reading)
NAMWOLF New Member Subcommittee Seeks Additional Members
The NAMWOLF New Member Subcommittee is looking for both law firm attorneys and in-house counsel to join our Committee and help identify qualified law firms in states without NAMWOLF firms, including Kansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Nebraska, and other states that are under-represented, like Nevada. Please contact Committee Co-Chairs Linda Joseph of Schröder, Joseph & Associates, LLP (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Maurice Grant of Grant Law, LLC (email@example.com) to get involved.
2016 Annual Meeting
September 14 - 17, 2016
A Letter From the Editors....
Dear NAMWOLF Members -
Attached you will find the special summer edition of the 2016 NAMWOLF Newsletter. We are publishing this special edition because we received so many articles for the June Newsletter - keep them coming! We hope you enjoy the issue and please CIRCULATE it to all the members of your firm or organization.
Our hard-working Newsletter staff consists of: Susan D. Koval (Nemeth Law, Detroit, MI), Crystal Vanderputten (The Livingston Law Firm, Walnut Creek, CA), Oscar Lizardi/Pat Lopez/Tim Reckart (all of Rusing Lopez & Lizardi, Tucson, AZ), Amy Kurson (Reyes Kurson, Chicago, IL), Joshua Brown (Lee + Kinder, Denver, CO), Lauren Hunt (Alvarez Arrieta & Diaz-Silveira, Miami, FL), Elizabeth Carter (Hill Hill Carter, Montgomery, AL) and Michele Desoer (Zuber Lawler & Del Duca, Los Angeles, CA, ) and of course, we could not publish without Jane Kalata (NAMWOLF). If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact us or find us at the upcoming Annual Meeting.
Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions.