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Where Inclusivity Meets Opportunity

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At Miller Canfield, diversity is more than data. That’s because we believe that statistics are meaningless unless the firm is both inclusive and offering real opportunity for lawyers—all lawyers—to succeed and enjoy the rewards they deserve.

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Miller Canfield has adopted specific programs and measurable diversity goals in the areas of attraction, retention and business development.

Additionally, the Miller Canfield Women’s Initiative, comprised of women, men, principals and non-principals, is a subcommittee of the Diversity Committee and is an integral part of the firm’s overall diversity plan.

This group focuses on four issues that have been identified as affecting the ability of women to advance in the legal profession: 

Four team leaders meet regularly with their respective teams to further discuss and develop specific recommendations to improve the retention of women at the firm. The recommendations are presented annually to the Managing Directors.

We have also partnered with the national Diversity Lab through 2018 to assist us with implementation of the Mansfield Rule and a comprehensive strategy to prevent the potential departure of women nearing the critical “Five Year Moment” of their careers. The Mansfield Rule requires that 30 percent of our applicant pool for promotions and lateral hires consist of women and minorities.

Miller Canfield attorney Saul Green is the co-founder of the African American Partners Collaborative, which was formed to create solutions to help the legal community attract, support and advance diverse attorneys in law firms.

We view these programs as the manifestation of the way we live our firm’s values. But also importantly, they ensure that we are attracting and retaining the very best talent in the profession, which is good for the firm, our future and our clients.

Leadership By Example

For decades Miller Canfield has been a leader on diversity issues, both within the firm and in the community. We believe that inclusiveness and diversity are essential to our firm culture, and to our success. We are proud that our team of lawyers, paralegals and administrative staff reflects the richly diverse communities in which we live and do business, and recognize that there is more work to do moving forward. The firm is fully committed to establishing and meeting the most robust diversity goals in the profession.

Our commitment to promoting diversity starts with our management team, which has long included the voices of women and minorities. We were one of the first major law firms in the country to elect an African-American chief executive officer, Leonard Givens, and Beverly Hall Burns has served the firm as Deputy CEO. Our Board of Managing Directors includes Amy Johnston, and has included, Jerome Watson and Amanda VanDusen, and is currently chaired by Megan Norris.   

In 2014, our CEO, Michael McGee, created the position of Director of Professional Development in an effort to ensure that all human capital areas directly affecting and influencing our diversity initiatives are managed in concert with one another.  Thus, Michelle Crockett, the firm’s first African-American female principal, currently oversees all hiring, diversity, mentoring and professional development of our attorneys.  In this role, one of her responsibilities is to lead the firm’s Diversity Committee, which is comprised of principals, practice group leaders and a Managing Director, in an effort to monitor and review our recruitment and retention efforts as well as identify ongoing diversity training for attorneys and staff.  

The Women of Miller Canfield, led by Dawn Schluter, meets several times a year in-person, via video conference, and with existing and potential clients to further discuss and support the practice development goals of our female attorneys.

We are a signatory firm of the Grand Rapids Bar Association’s Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative Agreement, signed in 2011. The agreement is a formal commitment among 12 major Grand Rapids law firms and the GRBA to collaborate towards achieving greater diversity and inclusion in the West Michigan legal community through education, hiring, retention and promotion.

Kalamazoo attorney James Liggins, Jr. founded the Charles A. Pratt Bar Association, representing the region’s African-American attorneys and served as the group’s first president. Len Givens was instrumental in incorporating the Michigan Minority Business Development Counsel.

Forging Tomorrow's Leaders

Miller Canfield has initiated several programs with our community partnerships to provide mentoring and educational opportunities for youth in our local communities. Our efforts include the following:

Diversity Committee

Miller Canfield’s Diversity Committee is a passionate and diverse team of attorneys and administrators that reviews the firm’s diversity goals and initiatives. Chaired by an African American female partner, Michelle Crockett, the committee is made up of principal attorneys and firm leaders, including:


The committee is constantly working to improve Miller Canfield’s record through several efforts, including:

Recognitions

As a firm, Miller Canfield has earned recognition for its inclusivity and support of diversity initiatives, both within the firm and in the legal community.

In 2016, Miller Canfield was one of 54 top law firms nationwide selected to participate in the Women in Law Hackathon, an innovative program to advance the careers of women in the legal profession. The firm is an “Honor Roll” member of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. And we have sponsored and presented the Outstanding Diversity Award for the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce.

Individually, Miller Canfield attorneys have been recognized as leaders in the promotion of law firm inclusivity.

Three of our attorneys—Amy Johnston, Dawn Schluter, and Soni Mithani—have been named by Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly in its annual Women in the Law recognition and awards. In addition to being recognized for their professional accomplishments, Women in the Law are also recognized for the ways they support other women attorneys.

Principal attorneys Michelle Crockett and Harold Bulger were named in the Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence and Men of Excellence, which recognizes leaders who are visionaries and who are champions of economic empowerment and diversity.

Saul Green was honored by the Wolverine Bar Association and the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association with Trailblazer Award recognitions, for his work in paving the way for diversity in the legal profession. He won the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion’s Humanitarian Award and was selected to serve as co-chair of the State Bar of Michigan Open Justice Commission’s Task Force on Racial/Ethnic and Gender Issues in the Courts and the Legal Profession.