In our Sponsor Spotlight series, CBI highlights our relationships with our sponsors, and the work they are doing to build a more equitable and just community within their own spheres of influence. Today’s Sponsor Spotlight focuses on McGuireWoods.
“McGuireWoods has a long history of involvement with the Community Building Initiative. In Charlotte, our firm has a deep commitment to being engaged with our community in ways to make it better for all of us,” says John McDonald, managing partner of the firm’s Charlotte Office. “The CBI programs allow us to help our young lawyers learn more about the specific racial injustice and inequities in our community, while at the same time giving them opportunities to network with other professionals and receive leadership training. These programs go hand in hand with two of our firm’s core values – community and diversity and inclusion. We have had a number of lawyers participate in CBI’s Leaders Under 40 program. Charlotte partners Rakesh Gopalan, Adam Green, and Jodie Herrmann Lawson, as well as associates Meredith Green (now General Counsel at Furman University), Alec Covington, Anita Foss and Jasmine Gardner have all benefited from this unique leadership training program.”
More senior members of McGuireWoods’ team have been shaped by another of CBI’s Leadership Development programs: “Greg Kilpatrick, an alumnus of the LDI program and chair of our Securities & Capital Markets Department, is co-leading a McGuireWoods initiative to help Black private equity and finance professionals develop business opportunities. The Black Professionals in Private Equity & Finance (BPE) initiative will bring together professionals from across the financial services sector to network, share ideas and promote change in the industry.”
Mr. McDonald describes McGuireWoods’ broad commitment to diversity and inclusion: “Diversity and inclusion are core values and a strategic priority for our firm. We focus specifically on leadership – putting women, lawyers of color, and LGBTQ lawyers in positions of leadership. Over 40 percent of our department chairs are women and nearly a quarter are lawyers of color. We also embrace opportunities to partner with our clients on diversity and inclusion initiatives. We were proud to receive Bank of America’s ‘Law Firm Diversity & Inclusion Award’ last fall, recognizing our collaboration and leadership on D&I issues in the legal profession. Our Chairman, Jon Harmon, also launched our “Leaders in Color” webcast series in which corporate counsel and legal aid lawyers discuss racial justice and how law firms and companies can work together to effect real, long-lasting change.”
At the local level, McGuireWoods’ efforts around equity extend into the community: “Just days after George Floyd’s death last year, our firm created a Racial Justice Task Force to work with civic and business leaders to advocate for criminal justice reform and racial equity in cities where we can have an impact, including Charlotte. For example, McGuireWoods has joined the Corporate Response Team that the Charlotte Business Alliance is organizing. We are working with other businesses and organizations to leverage our legal expertise to increase economic opportunities for Charlotte’s minority communities.
“McGuireWoods also played a lead role in creating the Charlotte Triage project, a groundbreaking initiative that makes legal services more accessible to low-income residents in our community. The program, which brings together lawyers from area law firms, corporate in-house legal departments, and public interest organizations, marked its second anniversary last year. Access to justice has long been a barrier to achieving true equity in our communities and this innovative program moves us in the right direction.”