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Panel Discussions to Focus on Fostering Diversity in the Legal Profession

2/9/09

The State Bar of Michigan and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School will present two panel discussions on ways to create and foster diversity in the legal profession and provide tips on recruiting and retaining ethnically diverse attorneys. The first seminar takes place on Friday, March 6, at Cooley's Auburn Hills campus; the second will be held Friday, March 13, at the Cooley campus in Grand Rapids. Both events, titled "We Can, We Will, We Must: Creating Opportunities for the Next Generation of Lawyers," will run from 1 to 4 p.m.

The panelists, all of whom have championed diversity, will discuss the challenges and rewards of working to increase the number of racial minorities at law schools and in the legal profession. For example, statistics show that while African-Americans comprise 13 percent of the country's population, they make up approximately seven percent of the average law school enrollment.

The March 6 session in Auburn Hills will be moderated by Cooley Law School Associate Dean John Nussbaumer, who will also serve as a panelists. Other panelists include:

  • Mary Ferguson, Michigan State University College of Law director of diversity services;
  • Lawrence Garcia, attorney with Allen Brothers PLLC and president of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Michigan;
  • Christopher Johnson, director of Cooley's graduate program in corporate law and finance and former General Motors vice president and general counsel;
  • David Koelsch, director of the University of Detroit Mercy Immigration Law Clinic;
  • Harold Pope, attorney with Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss, P.C.; and
  • Hon. Victoria Roberts, federal district court judge.

Cooley Associate Dean Nelson Miller and Assistant Dean Tracey Brame will moderate the March 13 session in Grand Rapids. Panelists are:

  • Anthony "Tony" Flores, Cooley professor;
  • Dwight Hamilton;
  • Hon. Benjamin Logan, Michigan district court judge;
  • Lizbeth O'Shaughnessy, Steelcase, Inc. corporate counsel; and
  • Skot Welch, Global Bruidgebuilders diversity and inclusion management consultant.

Each session will be simulcast to every Cooley campus, and students from all Michigan law schools will be invited to attend along with bar leaders, diversity consultants, members of the judiciary, in-house legal counsel, attorneys in private practice, and anyone interested in this issue.

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