Even Diversity and Inclusion Professionals Need Professional Development!

by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

With just days into the new year, are you embracing the new year as an opportunity for your own personal and professional growth and development? Or, are you already dreading what the new year will bring and counting the days until you can take some more time off from work for the next holiday?

In my mind, the difference between approaching a new year with curiosity and openness versus dread and defeat boils down to getting clear about your priorities and values, both personal and professional.

The Professional Development and Inclusion (PD&I) team at Ogletree Deakins and I feel motivated, inspired, and ready as we embrace the challenges that our work in the professional development and diversity and inclusion arena brings. Right after New Year’s Day, during the first week in January, we dedicated a full day to strategic planning, goal-mapping, and visioning. It was a day where we clarified our own personal and professional goals, our departmental goals, the action steps needed to accomplish the goals, and the support we could expect from each other as we work toward those goals in 2013.

This year, I asked the PD&I team to complete some pre-work prior to the scheduled staff development day. We began with a “values exercise,” which we borrowed from certified life coach, Phyllis M. Levinson. The exercise allows one to gain clarity around the most important values in one’s life. It asks five questions:

  1. List the five most important values in your life.
  2. List the six most important people in your life.
  3. List the three most important events in your life.
  4. List the five biggest problems/concerns in your local, regional, or national community that you want to impact.
  5. List the five people you most admire in the world.

Asking the PD&I team to answer those questions with regard to their personal lives, allowed us also to answer a series of pre-work questions about our professional lives and goals. In this regard, I utilized “A Personal Brand Exercise,” which I borrowed from legal marketing expert and coach, Jane McBride. The personal brand exercise required each of us to outline our professional goals, the relevant audiences needed to accomplish those goals, five to ten professional values needed to realize the goals, a list of our current personal brand characteristics, as well as those brand characteristics we would like to develop.

Upon conclusion of these two exercises, we moved into a discussion of goals for the PD&I Department and how we could leverage the skills and talents that we individually possess, our individual personal and professional goals, and our personal and professional brand characteristics to accomplish our department’s mission.

After a candid and fruitful dialogue, we agreed upon the following departmental mission statement:

“We want to be a catalyst for positive change. We want to use our intellectual abilities, emotional intelligence, and social savvy to create and promote an inclusive and productive work environment that offers professional growth opportunities for all lawyers.”

We then determined what an inclusive and productive work environment for the lawyers would look like. We discussed our firm-wide demographics for women and minorities and agreed on aspirational goals for increasing those numbers. We also discussed our current firm-wide attrition numbers and how to keep the attrition rates for women and minorities congruent or less than the overall rate.

Next, we discussed what an inclusive environment feels like. We devised the following two aspirational goals:

  • The lawyers are meeting or exceeding firm and client expectations and are active on firm committees and in the civic community.
  • Women and minority lawyers feel included—not marginalized—and valued for their contributions. They are given good assignments, work with key firm clients, and participate regularly in firm pitches to get new business. They want to stay at the firm and are successful in moving into leadership positions.

Finally, we discussed strategies for improving the current firm-wide demographics and for creating and promoting an inclusive environment. This robust discussion focused on many of the action steps that emanated from our firm-wide Climate Survey conducted in 2012 including, among others:

  • developing a robust set of competencies and benchmarks that are directly correlated to our hiring, recruiting, evaluation, and development structures in order to have greater transparency around what it takes to be successful at Ogletree Deakins;
  • supporting the development of minority and women leaders;
  • demonstrating and communicating the link between our diversity and professional development efforts to the firm’s bottom line; and
  • implementing a strong professional development training program to support lawyer growth and development.

To ensure that the above-described personal and professional strategies and goals are top of mind throughout 2013, I have provided each PD&I team member with a personal journal and have asked each person to take the time to record, at least monthly, how they have consciously worked toward accomplishing their own personal goals. Then, we have set aside time during the last weekly staff meeting of every month to discuss each person’s individual progress.

For accomplishment of our professional goals, we focus our weekly staff meetings on the systematic tracking of action items outlined in our three-year strategic plan with a discussion as to which team member will take the lead on a particular item and the resources needed to accomplish the goal.

Moreover, the annual January full-day staff strategic planning session is supplemented throughout the year with monthly half-day staff development days when we attend local or regional diversity and inclusion events or engage in other team-building exercises.

It is my expectation that this level of investment in both my own personal and professional development as well as that of the PD&I team will continue to keep us all engaged, motivated, and inspired to make a difference in our own lives as well as the lives of the lawyers with whom we work.

Michelle P. Wimes is the Director of Professional Development and Inclusion at Ogletree Deakins.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.