Panel Discusses Civility in WNJ’s One Book, One Firm Program

We had a very interesting session in our One Book, One Firm program with a great panel discussion on civility and incivility in the political and civic arenas and how we can respond as citizens and as members of our communities to what people see as a rising level of incivility. The panelists for the program were Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Commissioner Joe Jones, former Michigan legislator Ken Sikkema , and John Inhulsen, Warner Norcross Senior Counsel in our Grand Rapids office. Warner partner Rodney Martin hosted the program, which was simulcast by video conference to each of our offices.

 

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Six Warner Norcross Minority Scholarships Awarded to Assist Students with Legal Studies

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP recently provided scholarships to six minority students to assist them in furthering their legal studies.  Two students were awarded WNJ Minority Scholarships that are administered and awarded by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.  Now in its 17th year, the Warner Norcross scholarship provides monetary assistance to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies.
The 2017 scholarship winners are:
  • Marsheda Ewulomi of Lansing, Law School Scholarship
  • Tierra Love of Grand Rapids, Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship
In addition, four students have received scholarships from Warner Norcross to help them with preparation for the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. This is the tenth year Warner Norcross has offered the program that enables selected minority students at Michigan colleges to attend a study course designed to prepare them for the exam. Studies show those who take the prep course score higher on the test, which determines law school entrance.  The 2017 LSAT Scholarship recipients are:
  • Zachary Francisco, Hope College
  • Tiarra Thompson, Hope College
  • Faten Balawi, Wayne State University
  • Nabintou Doumbia, Wayne State University
Since it began offering scholarships, Warner Norcross has provided more than $170,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a law career. To date, the scholarships have assisted 80- students.

Warner Norcross established the tuition scholarship fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation in 1998; the first scholarship was awarded in 2001. The winners were chosen after reviewing essays that summarized the goals and challenges that drew them to the field of law.

For more information on these scholarships you may visit http://www.wnj.com/Careers/Diversity/Minority-Scholarships-and-Applications.

Panel to Discuss Civility in the Civic Arena at Warner Norcross & Judd

Choosing CivilityAs part of its One Book, One Firm discussion of Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni, Warner Norcross & Judd will host a panel discussion on Tuesday July 11.  The panel will discuss civility and incivility in the political and civic arenas and how we can respond as citizens and as members of our communities to what most people see as a rising level of incivility.  We have an exceptional panel for this program.  They include:

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss – Rosalynn Bliss became the City of Grand Rapids’ first female Mayor when she took office on January 1, 2016, after serving as a Second Ward City Commissioner for 10 years. Mayor Bliss serves as adjunct professor of social work at Grand Valley State University.

City Commissioner Joe Jones – Joe Jones was appointed a Second Ward Commissioner by the Grand Rapids City Commission to fill the remaining term of Rosalynn Bliss, after she won election as Mayor.  A native of Detroit, Joe has served as President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Urban League for the past six years.

Ken Sikkema – Ken Sikkema served in the Michigan Legislature for 20 years—twelve in the House and eight in the Senate.  He served as Majority Floor Leader and Republican Leader of the Michigan House and Majority Leader in the State Senate.  He served both when his party was in the majority and in the minority, as well as two years when the Michigan House of Representatives was evenly split and the parties shared leadership. Today, Mr. Sikkema is a Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, an independent, non-partisan consulting firm in Lansing.

John Inhulsen – John Inhulsen is Senior Counsel in our Grand Rapids office. He concentrates his practice on corporate, real estate and litigation matters. John served as Chair of the Kent County Republican Party in 2015 and 2016, and prior to that was its Finance Chair.

The panel discussion, which is open to attorneys and staff members at the firm,  will be held in the University Club of Grand Rapids and will be videocast to the firms other seven offices.

Choosing Civility: Escaping our Internet Bubbles

Many people today are lamenting the polarization of our politics.  This is not just an American phenomenon.  The cover story in this week’s Economist Magazine, a British publication, discusses “Britain’s Missing Middle.”  Part of what fuels the polarization today is our ability to choose the sources of our news and create an Internet bubble or echo chamber in which our views are repeated but not challenged.  In 2014, The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of conservatives and liberals to explore this polarization in detail.  Among the findings of the study, which can be found here, were the following:

Overall, the study finds that consistent conservatives:

  • Are tightly clustered around a single news source, far more than any other group in the survey, with 47% citing Fox News as their main source for news about government and politics.
  • Express greater distrust than trust of 24 of the 36 news sources measured in the survey. At the same time, fully 88% of consistent conservatives trust Fox News.
  • Are, when on Facebook, more likely than those in other ideological groups to hear political opinions that are in line with their own views.
  • Are more likely to have friends who share their own political views. Two-thirds (66%) say most of their close friends share their views on government and politics.

By contrast, those with consistently liberal views:

  • Are less unified in their media loyalty; they rely on a greater range of news outlets, including some – like NPR and the New York Times– that others use far less.
  • Express more trust than distrust of 28 of the 36 news outlets in the survey. NPR, PBS and the BBC are the most trusted news sources for consistent liberals.
  • Are more likely than those in other ideological groups to block or “defriend” someone on a social network – as well as to end a personal friendship – because of politics.
  • Are more likely to follow issue-based groups, rather than political parties or candidates, in their Facebook feeds.

While the Internet enables us to create our own personal bubbles, it also enables us, with little effort, to broaden our sources of news and commentary and perhaps increase our ability to understand better the opinions of those who hold different views than our own.  I recently came across an excellent site for doing just that.  It is AllSides.com.  Allsides presents news stories from the right, the center and the middle.  For example, here is AllSides’ lead story on today’s website:

AllSides

 

I have been using AllSides for the past three weeks and have found it to be an excellent tool for breaking out of my bubble.  You can learn more about AllSides by watching this two-minute video interview AllSides’ founder.

While you are at it, take a look at this TED Talk on “How to Have Better Political Conversations.”  https://www.ted.com/talks/robb_willer_how_to_have_better_political_conversations I think you will find it interesting.

Rodney Martin, Diversity Partner

Warner holds “World Café” to Discuss “Choosing Civility”

Warner Norcross & Judd held a “world café” discussion of this year’s One Book, One Firm selection, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct , by P.M. Forni.  Attorneys and staff members participated in small group discussions of civiity.  The discussion was “served” in three courses, along with the meal.  During the first course, participants worked on developing a definition of civility and discussed the implications of that meaning for them.

After the first course, participants changed tables and joined a new group for the second course, where they discussed the relevance of Forni’s 25 rules of civility to Warner Norcross and tried to identify the five rules that are most important to the firm.

For the third course, the participants once again changed tables and joined a new group. During this course (and over dessert) they discussed the obstacles to living by the rules of civility and what they can do individually to support the firm in choosing civility.

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Beth Page who leads the Talent Management Practice in the Great Lakes Region for Right Management.

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Warner Norcross Selects Choosing Civility for One Book, One Firm

Choosing CivilityWarner Norcross & Judd LLP has selected Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni as the 2017 choice for its One Book, One Firm series.

The One Book, One Firm program explores diversity and inclusion issues during a summer lunch-and-learn program. Diversity Partner Rodney Martin launched the annual event in 2008 to model the success of community reading programs that encourage all residents of a city to read and discuss the same book.

Choosing Civility confronts society’s noticeable lack of respectful behavior by detailing 25 “rules” that Forni finds essential for restoring civility. His commonsense list, delivered in clear and often clever language, touches on a number of topics, including: Respect the opinions of others; Refrain from idle complaints; Care for your guests; Accept and give praise.

“Recent research shows that 70 percent of American’s believe incivility has reached crisis levels. Yet civility is a fundamental requirement of an inclusive society and an inclusive organization,” Martin said. “Forni’s guidebook provides practical, real-life advice to improve interpersonal relationships and makes for an enjoyable read. The rules he suggests should make for some thought-provoking discussion.”Forni is an award-winning professor at Johns Hopkins University, where he has taught for the past 20 years. In 1997, he co-founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, which explores the “significance of civility, manners and politeness in contemporary society.” In his lectures, he frequently talks about the rewards of fostering a culture or civility in today’s workplace.

Previous selections for One Book, One Firm have included: The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange History of Integration of America, by Tanner Colby; Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, by Bich Minh Nguyen; and The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work”by Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson.