Diversity & Community Involvement
Diversity & Community Involvement
A top priority of our strategic plan is to develop and maintain a more diverse Lewis Thomason by actively recruiting minority and women attorneys to the firm and promoting them within the firm. For the past several years, we have participated in minority job fairs to recruit law clerks in each of our offices and hosted minority high school summer interns to develop a diverse pipeline of potential attorneys for our firm. In addition to these efforts in the area of racial and ethnic diversity, Lewis Thomason has always considered gender diversity a priority. Two women have served as firm president for the past 25 years, with the current president serving for the past six, after her predecessor was appointed then elected as a trial court judge. The recently appointed managing shareholder of the Memphis office is female. The chairperson of the shareholders’ compensation committee is female, three of our 11 board of directors are women, and we have six female practice group leaders. It is our ongoing goal to recruit and retain lawyers and staff who will foster and encourage a diverse and inclusive team.
Retention of our diverse attorneys is a priority for Lewis Thomason. Creating an inclusive environment at Lewis Thomason is important to facilitating that goal. An overwhelming number of our attorneys have never worked for another firm, and we believe that is because at Lewis Thomason we treat each other like family. Many large firms are solely focused on the billable hour, but we make sure our attorneys know they can find a balance here between work and family/life obligations. We host many social events after work, making certain that everyone feels welcome, and we occasionally close the office for the afternoon and attend a minor league baseball game or go to Top Golf. We believe the importance of camaraderie developed through these activities cannot be overstated. Another important aspect to retention of diverse attorneys is how Lewis Thomason supports our attorneys as they grow in their practices. We encourage and support our attorneys as they work to build a book of business. We provide business development training, business of law training, and encourage them to seek additional training that will assist them as they grow in their career. In addition, we provide opportunities for all our attorneys to develop relationships with the clients by accompanying the relationship shareholder to client meetings and client presentations.
We believe retention of diverse attorneys goes hand-in-hand with increasing diverse attorneys in leadership roles in the firm. Lewis Thomason believes in allowing our attorneys to learn and grow with our firm and become leaders as they continue in their career with us. It is our goal to create an inclusive environment so diverse individuals desire to continue with a career at Lewis Thomason long-term. Our diverse attorneys serve on internal committees such as the summer associate social committee, Project 2027 (a group of young attorneys tasked with advising our firm president on the future of the firm), and the pro bono committee. We want the diverse attorneys we hire today to be the firm’s leaders of tomorrow.
Attorneys in our firm are leaders of affinity bar associations and committees across the state.
- Kaya Porter is Chair of the Nashville Bar Association’s Diversity Committee.
- Christin Blackburn is president of the Lawyers’ Association for Women Attorneys, Marion Griffin Chapter.
- Laura Deakins is president of the Association for Women Attorneys, Memphis Chapter.
Lewis Thomason encourages and supports our attorneys to become leaders to effect the change we want to see in our legal community. We routinely promote and support minority and women attorneys serving as leaders in community organizations.
We have nominated several attorneys for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Middle Tennessee 2019 Nashville’s 30 Under 30 and assisted them in reaching their fundraising goal. The firm has been awarded diversity awards several years in a row from the Nashville Bar Association for contributions to enhance diversity and professional success.
Whitney Kimerling, a shareholder in our Nashville office, is a recent graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law program and Ann Murphy, an associate, is a recent participant in the Nashville Young Leaders Council program. William Mynatt, a shareholder in the firm’s Knoxville office, is on the board of Positively Living, Inc. and its subsidiaries Care Choice Health Network and ACT, all of which deal with housing issues and provision of prevention and health care services for HIV and HepC patients. Brian Faughnan is Treasurer of the ACLU of Tennessee. Our firm sponsors the University of Memphis School of Law Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Team, which is comprised exclusively of diverse law students.
We also created scholarships for diverse students at the University of Memphis School of Law and the University of Tennessee School of Law. Our firm president is dedicated to women’s issues and has served on the boards of the Sexual Assault Center, Junior League, and is currently on the Board of the Women’s Fund. In addition, our lawyers participate in Diverse Leaders Academy, ALFA International’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee where one of our shareholders is Chair, attend DRI’s Diversity Corporate Expo, and chair multiple boards devoted to diversity and inclusion related issues.