Archive for the ‘Recommended Reading’ Category.

The 2014 One Book, One Firm Selection: Branch Rickey

Branch RickeyEach year in our One Book, One Firm program, we select a book relating to diversity and inclusion and encourage everyone in the firm to read and discuss it.  In addition, we prepare a recommended reading list for other books you might enjoy reading this summer. Also, this year we have created a One Book, One Firm website with additional information. This email will fill you in on the 2014 One Book, One Firm program.

The 2014 One Book, One Firm Selection

This year’s One Book, One Firm selection is Branch Rickey, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jimmy Breslin. Branch Rickey, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, brought many innovations to the game of baseball, including the farm system. Breslin’s short, easy to read biography, however, focuses on the story of Rickey’s role in breaking the color barrier in Major League baseball.

Rickey’s commitment to integrate Major League Baseball grew out of an incident involving Charles Thomas, an African American teammate of Rickey’s on the Ohio Wesleyan baseball team. Rickey would remember that incident for years, eventually deciding to do something about the injustice he saw. Years before Jackie Robinson would ultimately join Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey committed to integrating Major League baseball. He began scouting Negro League baseball teams to find a player with the talent and the character to break the color barrier. In Robinson, he found the perfect man, and together they changed America’s game.

Warner Norcross Announces Winners of the 9th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP announced the results of its Ninth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.

The contest, which was open to all sixth-grade students attending Grand Rapids Public Schools, asked the students to prepare an essay focused on how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.  This year’s competition included entries from 289 students at nine schools.

Winners were:

  • Sofe Christine Blomeling, Riverside Middle School, grand prize
  • Sophia Crumback-Tarrien, Center for Economicology, first runner up
  • Maya Barbee, Center for Economicology, second runner up

Each winning student will receive a certificate of deposit and a gift card to Schuler Books and Music.  Additionally, 20 students from five schools received an award of honorable mention and a gift card to Schuler Books and Music.  All participating students will receive a personalized certificate of completion.

Blomeling has been invited to read her essay at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Community Peace Program on Monday, Jan. 20 at 12:30 p.m. following the Community Peace March and again at the Annual Celebration program that evening at 6 p.m.  Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse. All winners and honorable mentions are invited to attend both events and will be recognized as a group.

The three winning students will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the GRPS Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, if time permits.  Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be in attendance to introduce the winning students and will present each winner and honorable mention student in attendance that night with their prizes and certificates.

Essays were judged by more than 40 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing.  The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions.

Here are the winning essays:


Riverside Middle School, Ms. Emily Holt, Teacher

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Izzy, and Me”

            Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is one of America’s heroes. He took the time and patience to try and fight calmly and nonviolently to win some of the true freedom of the United States of America. But anyone can be a true hero, not by a cape or tights and underwear, but having a kind heart, patience, and the willingness to put anyone else in front of them. He inspired me to think of other people first, and put their needs before mine. But I’m not writing about me. I’m writing about a true friend who saved me, and her name is Izzy.

            When I was younger, I attracted bullies like a magnet. I was so broken. I was super shy, and I always wore a scarf to hide myself. On one particular occasion, I decided not to. That was the day I made a new friend. It was at the Boys and Girls Club. I sat alone, afraid that if I left my spot I’d be bullied again. For some reason I got up and drew a picture on the chalkboard wall and sat back down. After about an hour, I heard someone yell saying, “WHO DREW THAT PICTURE?!” I went up to the girl and stammered, “I-I-I- I did. I’m so sor . . . “ Before I could finish, she interrupted me. She hugged me tightly and said, “It’s okay, I like it!” I was so shocked! It felt so nice to feel a friendly touch from somebody else.

            Izzy, Izabella, was like a true heroine. Before she came along, I used to feel depressed and kind of hopeless. She saved my life! She could relate to my feelings because she experienced pain from being bullied herself. Even so, she took the time to help me gain some self-confidence. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be such a good artist, singer, or have so many friends. She put my needs in front of her own, just like Dr. King would have. She put color back into my life! Whenever I try to give her something in return for her kindnesses she says, “You don’t need to give me anything. Just stay the way you are and be my good friend.” Izzy has the characteristics of a true personal hero, just like Dr. King did.

            America is still not entirely fair, and we may have a little too much freedom with things like bullying, stealing, kidnapping, murder, etc., but thank goodness Dr. King DID make a big hole in some of it. Some of Dr. King’s dreams have been fulfilled today. Dr. King, a man who started a fight for freedom without using violence, would’ve been proud to see that America is a bit freer than it was before he started this social revolution. No one’s life is insignificant. Saving anyone from life or death is a HUGE accomplishment.

            Like I said before, a hero doesn’t have to have a cape and super powers, or even save the world from an evil villain. Being a hero takes bravery, love, patience and the willingness to put yourself out there no matter who or what needs you. And that’s what Dr. King and Izzy have in common. They are heroes, and they are my role models. I think Dr. King would agree with me: Izzy is a true friend.



Center for Economicology, Mrs. Reed, Teacher

“Changing the World”

            Martin Luther King Jr. was a courageous man with a big heart. He started out with doing little things that grew and grew until he changed the world. I love animals, and I want to change the world for them. So, if he could do it, so can I.

            Animal cruelty is a horrible subject. Sadly enough, some people choose to be mean to innocent animals. My three cats were all strays, which means they came from the streets and from filthy shelters. One of them was abused by his past owner before he was kicked to the curb and then put in a cage. Adopting shelter cats and helping strays are two ways to make the world a better place. When I’m old enough, I hope to volunteer at my local animal shelter to help change the lives of animals in need.

            Litter is something else that I fight against. All this trash is damaging our planet, and we only get one to share with all other living things. I get angry when I see litter at my local park because wildlife could get hurt and their drinking water could get filled with garbage. Every Earth Day, my family and I go to the park and pick up almost all the trash we see in hope of saving animals. If I act like it’s Earth Day every day, I could make a massive difference in the lives of squirrels, deer, ducks, and many other animals that I never even see.

            Finally, people are animals too, and we can help each other in many ways. I, for example, give my friends and family nice compliments and a warm smile to make them feel better when they’re feeling down. I visit my elderly neighbor because I know that my visits cheer her up. Everyone should be warm and fed and no one should be without friends. Loneliness is like an illness. Laughter is the best medicine, so I pass it around for everyone to share.

            All of these things could make a huge difference to a lot of animals, big and small. They could even change the world! All of these subjects I wrote about have two things in common: kindness and hope. I will help as much as I can, but I hope that many will join me just like they joined Doctor King, who spoke to smaller crowds before he spoke to all of the citizens of the world. Right now, I’m just an eleven year old kid, but I’m already a hero to my three cats. When I grow up, there’ll be no limit to the animals I can help. That’s my dream.


Center for Economicology, Mrs. Reed, Teacher

 “Making the World A Better Place”

            Have you ever thought of all the problems in this world? For example, so many people without homes, so many people without jobs, kids or animals without homes, world hunger, global warming, pollution, kids without an education, and much more. There is always going to be a problem. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. That’s just the way life goes. If everyone contributes in some way, the world can become a better place for the children of the world to come.

            I personally do many little things to make the world a better place. I volunteered in a neighborhood for a program that gives kids free books. That means I helped some kids learn new things. I also convinced my family to get a dog. The dog we found was from a rescue organization. I happily saved a dog from being sent to a medical research facility where she could have gotten seriously hurt, or killed. I support The Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan by going to the Buddy Walk, and their annual Christmas celebration, which supports kids with Down Syndrome, like my sister. I also go to the store the weekend before Thanksgiving with my family. We get two Thanksgiving meals, for two families in need. Also, my grandma lives in a retirement home, so I do some things to help out there too. Many senior citizens get lonely, so even if I just talk to them, that makes them happy. I pass out newsletters, recycle papers, and many other different things.

            I want to encourage people to make a difference, by doing little things one step at a time. I think Dr. King would say, “Everyone can make a difference no matter who you are. Even if you give something you can’t see, like honesty or kindness. Even if you don’t have anything, you can give something.” Dr. King encouraged a lot of people, and made a difference. I want to be like him, and I hope everyone else does too.

            I can’t make anybody do anything, so all I can do is encourage. So many people don’t realize that they can help the world by doing little things. Dr. King was once a kid, everyone starts small, that’s how people grow. I can give my kindness, my heart, and everything else to try to get people to give back.

            Everyone can make a difference, or help in some way. If everyone works together, we can make the world a better place for now, and for the youth to come.

Warner Norcross Reads, Discusses Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking for its One Book, One Firm Series

The law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has chosen Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain as the 2013 selection for its One Book, One Firm series. 

Now in its sixth year, the popular One Book, One Firm series encourages the entire law firm to read the same book, then provides opportunities to create a series of firm-wide discussions based on the common experience.  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was inspired by Cain’s experience while practicing corporate law on Wall Street – as an introvert. 

Attorneys and staff from the seven offices of Warner Norcross across Michigan will join in a special lunch-and-learn program on Monday, July 15 to discuss the book.  The program will be led by Joe Day, a partner in Pondera Advisors, a leadership consulting practice that he co-founded in 2006. 

A self-described introvert, Day spent eight years as a professional hockey player, captaining four different teams and receiving numerous awards.  He will offer his insights into how introverts and extroverts can work together in an inclusive organization and, more generally, how personality type differences impact us at work and at home. 

“We often think about diversity and inclusion in terms of race and gender and, indeed, our past book selections have reflected this,” said Diversity Partner Rodney Martin. “There’s a growing movement, though, to expand the meaning to reflect other aspects of diversity and inclusion, such as cognitive or emotional diversity. 

“The book selected for this summer’s reading series, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, will allow all of us to reflect on the different approaches that people bring to the table in an effort to promote greater respect and understanding.” 

One Book, One Firm was launched in 2008 as part of the law firm’s ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives.  Additional books in the series have included: 

  • Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, a memoir about the experience of a Vietnamese girl growing up in West Michigan
  • Hands of My Father, the story of a hearing child who served as the go-between for his deaf parents and the hearing world
  • The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work, a work that analyzes the fundamental differences between how men and women operate within companies
  • The Help, the debut novel by author Kathryn Stockett that explores the relationships between black maids and the white families they work for and the children they raise in Jackson, Miss. 
  • The Spirit Catches You and Then You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman, a book about the clash of traditional culture with modern medical culture.

Announcing the 2013 One Book, One Firm Selection and Reading List

Each year in our One Book, One Firm program, we select a book relating to diversity and inclusion and encourage everyone in the firm to read and discuss it.  This year’s One Book, One Firm selection is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.  Cain is a graduate of the Harvard Law School who began her career working for a Wall Street law firm. 

In Quiet, she recounts the history of the rise of the “Extrovert Ideal” in the 20th Century and argues that this ideal undervalues the leadership potential of introverts, who make up a third to half the population.  Cain relies upon recent research and neuroscience studies to explain the differences between extroverts and introverts.  She profiles many successful leaders who are introverts and offers guidance on how to negotiate relationships between extroverts and introvert. 

 Quiet was named the #1 Business Book in 2012 by Fast Company Magazine and was voted the Best Nonfiction Book of 2012 by

Quiet explores a different aspect of diversity from our usual focus on race or gender.  It will provide an opportunity to explore how an inclusive organization can enable people with different temperaments and personal strengths to excel together.  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Here’s a short quiz to help you find out:


In addition to the One Book, One Firm selection, we have a suggested reading list of fiction and non-fiction books addressing diversity and inclusion.  Copies of these books will be available to check out through the firm libraries. If you can’t find a copy in your office, contact M.L. Calvin and she will see that a copy of any book off the reading list makes its way to you through interoffice mail.

Nonfiction Selections 

Lean In, by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg.  Growing out of her TED Talk, that has been viewed over 2.5 million times, Sandberg’s book explores how women’s progress in achieving leadership roles in business has stalled and offers ways for women to achieve their full potential. Many at the firm have already read Lean In and found it thought provoking and inspiring.

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, by Kevin Boyle.  In 1924, African American physician Ossian Sweet moved his family into an all-white neighborhood in Detroit.  When a crowd of hostile whites surrounded the house for a second night and started pelting the house with stones, shots from inside the house struck two people in the crowd, killing one. Dr. Sweet and his friends, who were in the house at the time, were charged with murder and tried before an all-white jury.  Sweet was represented by Clarence Darrow, who convinced the jury to acquit.  Arc of Justice received the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald. Written by the researchers who founded Project Implicit, Blindspot explains the concept of implicit bias and the science behind the Implicit Assumption Tests we have spoken about at the firm.  This book is an easy read since it is written for a popular audience rather than the scientific community.

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by Condoleezza Rice.  In this autobiography of an extraordinary American, Condoleezza Rice recounts her life, from growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 50 and 60s to serving at the highest levels of the government.  Of the book, one reviewer wrote: “This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents, who encouraged her at every step of her life to overcome racism, sexism, and her own personal doubts. Her roots are deep in the South, with a family that pridefully skirted racism—never using the ‘colored’ facilities or riding in the back of the bus. Her mother, Angelena, was a cultured teacher who taught her piano, while her father, John, was a Presbyterian minister and later a college administrator who, despite his Republican politics, strongly admired black radicals, developing a friendship with Stokely Carmichael.”

Once Upon a Quinciñera, by Julia Alvarez. Famed Dominican author Julia Alvarez (“In the Time of Butterflies, “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents”) uses quinceañeras, elaborate and ritualized parties thrown for young Latinas when they turn fifteen, to explore Latino culture in the United States today.  Once Upon A Quinceañera was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism.


The Barbarian Nurseries, by Héctor Tobar.  Written by Pulitizer Prize winning journalist Héctor Tobar, The Barbarian Nurseries was the a Boston Globe Best Fiction Book of 2011. The San Francisco summarizes the plot as follows: “Scott and Maureen Torres-Thompson have always relied on others to run their Orange County home. But when bad investments crater their bank account, it all comes down to Araceli: their somewhat prickly Mexican maid. One night, an argument between the couple turns physical, and a misunderstanding leaves the children in Aracelis care. Their parents unreachable, she takes them to central Los Angeles in the hopes of finding Scott’s estranged Mexican father — an earnest quest that soon becomes a colossal misadventure, with consequences that ripple through every strata of the sprawling city. The Barbarian Nurseries is a masterful tale of contemporary Los Angeles, a novel as alive as the city itself.”

The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich.  Writing in the New York Times, reviewer Michiko Kakutani concluded that “[w]ith “The Plague of Doves,” she has written what is arguably her most ambitious — and in many ways, her most deeply affecting — work yet.” Publishers Weekly calls The Plague of Doves “a multigenerational tour de force of sin, redemption, murder and vengeance.” The novel tells the story of the 1911 slaughter of a farming family in Pluto, North Dakota. Publishers Weekly summarizes the plot as follows: “The family’s infant daughter is spared, and a posse forms, incorrectly blames three Indians and lynches them. One, Mooshum Milk, miraculously survives. Over the next century, descendants of both the hanged men and the lynch mob develop relationships that become deeply entangled, and their disparate stories are held together via principal narrator Evelina, Mooshum Milk’s granddaughter, who comes of age on an Indian reservation near Pluto in the 1960s and ’70s and forms two fateful adolescent crushes: one on bad-boy schoolmate Corwin Peace and one on a nun. Though Evelina doesn’t know it, both are descendants of lynch mob members. The plot splinters as Evelina enrolls in college and finds work at a mental asylum; Corwin spirals into a life of crime; and a long-lost violin (its backstory is another beautiful piece of the mosaic) takes on massive significance.”

The Wedding, by Dorothy West.  In her 1995 novel The Wedding, Dorothy West, the last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance, looks inside the African American middle class. The publisher summarizes the plot as follows: “Set on bucolic Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950s, The Wedding tells the story of life in the Oval, a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast’s black bourgeoisie.  Within this inner circle of ‘blue-vein society,’ we witness the prominent Coles family gather for the wedding of the loveliest daughter, Shelby, who could have chosen from ‘a whole area of eligible men of the right colors and the right professions.’ Instead, she has fallen in love with and is about to be married to Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. A shock wave breaks over the Oval as its longtime members grapple with the changing face of its community.

You Are Free, by Danzy Senna.  You Are Free is a collection of short stories that explore Black-White relations. Polly Rosenwaike, reviewing the collection in the New York Times, writes “[t]hough Senna’s stories address race, class and gender, they never devolve into simple case studies. Rather, her collection offers nuanced portraits of characters confronting anxieties and prejudices that leave them not as free as they would like to be.”

Native Speaker, by Chang-Rae Lee.  Native Speaker, Lee’s 1995 debut novel, tells the story of Henry Park, a first generation Korean American who struggles to fit into American life and the differences of culture, beliefs and heritage.  The publisher describes Native Speaker as “a story of cultural alienation. It is about fathers and sons, about the desire to connect with the world rather than stand apart from it, about loyalty and betrayal, about the alien in all of us and who we finally are.” Native Speaker was awarded the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel.

Warner Norcross & Judd Issues Its 7th Diversity & Inclusion Annual Report

WNJ_2012_DIARWarner Norcross & Judd has issued its 7th Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report.  Preparing the annual report gives us a chance to pause  to reflect on our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the firm, the legal profession and the communities where we live and work.  It is an important way we communicate our commitment to, and progress toward, becoming a more inclusive organization.  The 2012 report features stories as wide-ranging as the people and the programs they highlight.  From the welcome letter of Managing Partner Doug Wagner to the profile of Southfield partner Mary Jo Larson and her group’s café conversations on race to firm volunteers reading to students in the Grand Rapids Public Schools, this year’s report offers a look at the way we engage professionally as well as personally.  To read the Annual report click here.

Copies of the firm’s previous Annual Reports for 2006 through 2011 may be found on the firm’s website by clicking here.

WNJ Essay Contest Winner Published as Guest Column in the Grand Rapids Press

Daijon Miller, the sixth grader at the Riverside Middle School in Grand Rapids who is the Grand Prize winner in Warner’s eighth annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest, was honored by the Grand Rapids Press today by publishing his essay as today’s Guest Column.

Guest Column