Phelps Dunbar LLP
Our Shared Commitment to Diversity
High among the challenges facing organizations is achieving diversity and equality in the workplace. To our clients and those we seek to represent, the business imperative is clear. As companies look to consolidate their legal work for cost-effective and efficient handling, while at the same time satisfying their own community and socio-economic objectives, there is an increasing need for significant minority and female representation within law firms that have the capabilities for meeting the need of clients for effective representation in a broad range of practices. Phelps Dunbar’s approach is to develop a team of quality professionals with a broad array of disciplines working for a common objective of providing outstanding and creative client service and increasingly reflective of the diverse ethnic, political and socio-economic attributes of the communities in which we work and live.
Among our lawyers, we are proud to count a number of pioneers in the area of diversity in the legal profession. In particular, Reuben Anderson, a senior partner in our Jackson office was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice in Mississippi as well as the first to serve as the president of the Mississippi Bar. A partner in our New Orleans Employment Law Group, Kim Boyle, served as the first female African-American president for both the New Orleans and Louisiana State Bar Associations as well as an interim Judge for the Civil District Court for Orleans Parish. Fred Banks, an African-American partner in our Jackson office, is a former Presiding Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court as well as a circuit judge. Finally, Susie Morgan, a former partner in our New Orleans Commercial Litigation practice, was recently confirmed by the Senate to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Phelps Dunbar is strongly committed to gender diversity. Approximately one-third of the attorneys at the firm are women. Among firm leadership, we have several female partners, including Nan Alessandra (Practice Coordinator of the New Orleans Employment practice group), Susie Furr (Practice Coordinator of the Baton Rouge Employment practice group), Patricia Hair (Practice Coordinator of the Litigation practice group in Houston), Peri Alkas (Practice Coordinator of the Houston Insurance practice group), Patricia McLean (Practice Coordinator of the Tampa Insurance practice group) and LaToya Merritt (Deputy Practice Coordinator of the Jackson Employment Law practice group). Additionally, we have implemented a number of initiatives for female associates that address work/life balance issues, including alternative work schedules.
Since 2002 Phelps Dunbar’s efforts to increase minority and women hiring throughout the firm have been acknowledged by others. Specifically, Phelps Dunbar received the first Defense Research Institute (DRI) National Diversity Award in 2002, which recognized the firm’s outstanding diversity achievements and commitment. Additionally, we have held top rankings in a national survey of minority hiring. Minority Law Journal has repeatedly ranked Phelps Dunbar as having the highest percentage of African American lawyers since 2002 and as being one of the top three firms in this category for the past eight years. Multicultural Law Magazine has listed Phelps Dunbar in the following diversity categories: Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity, Top 25 Law Firms for African Americans, Top 100 Law Firms for Women and Top 50 Law Firms for Partners for the last eight years.
Regarding initiatives, Phelps Dunbar has teamed with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), an organization comprised of chief legal officers and managing partners from leading corporations and law firms around the United States. The LCLD is dedicated to making significant, tangible progress on diversity by developing specific goals, implementing measurable metrics and rewarding definitive results. Our firm is also a supporting member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s Firm Affiliate Network. Through our membership, we participate in efforts to advance the hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse attorneys in legal departments and law firms.
Our firm encourages lawyers to actively participate in community organizations and professional associations related to diversity and inclusion, including the National Bar Association, George Edgecomb Bar Association, Louis A. Martinet Legal Society of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge and Jackson, National Association of Women Lawyers, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Louisiana, Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers and Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association to name a few. In many of these organizations, our lawyers serve in leadership roles. In addition, our firm is an active supporter in organizations related to diversity and inclusion, including the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, the National Bar Association, and the African American Judges Association.
Finally, Phelps Dunbar’s legal recruiting department promotes the firm as a leader in minority recruitment. The firm actively recruits at the Southeastern Minority Job Fair, the Tulane University Diversity Clerkship Program, and on campus at schools throughout the United States, including Southern University Law Center. Likewise, we participated in the Louisiana State Bar Association Minority Job Fair for more than ten consecutive years. Phelps Dunbar also actively supports historically black universities with annual scholarships to Tougaloo College in Mississippi and Southern University Law Center in Louisiana, the latter of which recognized the firm for contributing over $100,000.