Archive for November 2007

• Volunteer Readers Needed for MLK Essay Contest

In connection with 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service activities, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP is sponsoring its Third Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest. The contest, which is open to all sixth grade students within the Grand Rapids Public School District, encourages students to think about how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.

We need volunteers from the law firm to read and rank the entries between December 26 and January 4.  Each of the entries will be judged according to a rubric supplied by the Grand Rapids Public Schools. If you would be willing to help, email Rodney Martin or Robin Keith.

All contest winners, including honorable mentions, and their parents will be acknowledged at the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Community Peace Program on January 21, 2008, at 12:30 p.m. (following the Community Peace March), and again at the Annual Celebration Program that evening at 6:30 p.m. Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.  The Grand Prize winning student will be invited to read his/her essay at both programs.  Warner Norcross & Judd will present the contest winners with prizes and certificates at the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education meeting the evening of Monday, February 4, 2008.

• Networking Opportunities: MAP and BL²END

Grand Rapids is home to an increasing number of professionals of color. It is also home to two important networking groups whose aim is to help those professionals make connections and expand business opportunities.

The Multiracial Association of Professionals (“MAP”) is sponsored by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce to create a strong network of professionals of all races in West Michigan and assist organizations to welcome, retain and connect professionals of color and their family. MAP strives to make West Michigan a place where racial diversity is seen across all levels of the community.  

MAP offers welcome lunches and a two-hour personal tour of Grand Rapids for professionals of color who are moving into the West Michigan community. In addition, MAP monthly networking events (MAP in the Morning and MAP in the evening) where professionals of all races get together to become better acquainted. More information about the organization and a membership application are available on MAP’s website. Members of MAP at Warner Norcross include, Steve Waterbury, Sue Conway, Chuck Burpee, Rodney Martin and LaMont Walker.

BL²END (Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions) is an organization established in Grand Rapids in 2006 to increase the engagement of young professionals of color and to retain them in the greater Grand Rapids community. BL²END is geared towards, but not limited to, professionals of color ages 22 to 35 located in the Greater Grand Rapids Area.

The group engages in three types of activities:

  • Social networking – opportunities to build networks and develop relationships with other young professionals.

  • Professional development – personal and professional growth through a variety of presentations and workshops.

  • Community outreach – opportunities to serve the community in various capacities.

For more information about BL²END email grblend@yahoo.com and visit their Myspace page.

• WNJ Included in Vault Diversity Guide

For the first time ever, Warner Norcross & Judd is profiled in the Guide to Law Firm Diversity Programs published by Vault and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. The Guide, which includes information on 200 of the top law firms around the country, is distributed free to every law school in the country, with copies available for their students, and to the general counsel of the top 1000 corporations. This year, information from the survey is also being made available to in-house general counsels in an online database that allows them to compare the performance of law firms they work with or are considering. We hope that our inclusion in the directory will continue to expand our growing reputation as a firm that takes diversity seriously.

Click here to see our firm’s profile.

• Recommended Reading: "Stealing Buddha’s Dinner"

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner,” is a memoir of Bich Minh Nguyen, whose family escaped the fall of Saigon in 1975 and settled in Grand Rapids. The publisher describes the book as follows:”A vivid, funny, and viscerally powerful memoir about childhood, assimilation, food, and growing up in the 1980s As a Vietnamese girl coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bich Nguyen is filled with a rapacious hunger for American identity. In the pre-PC era Midwest, where the devoutly Christian blond-haired, blue-eyed Jennifers and Tiffanys reign supreme, Nguyen’s barely conscious desire to belong transmutes into a passion for American food. More exotic seeming than her Buddhist grandmother’s traditional specialties—spring rolls, delicate pancakes stuffed with meats, fried shrimp cakes—the campy, preservative-filled ‘delicacies’ of mainstream America capture her imagination. And in this remarkable book, the glossy branded allure of such American foods as Pringles, Kit Kats, and Toll House cookies become an ingenious metaphor for her struggle to fit in, to become a ‘real’ American.

“Beginning with Nguyen’s family’s harrowing migration from Saigon in 1975, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner is nostalgic and candid, deeply satisfying and minutely observed, and stands as a unique vision of the immigrant experience and a lyrical ode to how identity is often shaped by the things we long for.”

More information about the book and an interview with the author can be found on the publishers site.

• Radio in Black and White

Radio in Black and White” is a radio program on WTKG (AM 1230) in Grand Rapids that each week (Monday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) features a thoughtful and positive discussion about race and diversity. Every week, the program’s hosts, Rick Wilson and Skot Welch, have an engaging conversation about stories in the news.

Recently, for example, the pair interviewed Grand Rapids Schools Superintendent Bernard Taylor about a study from Johns Hopkins University that labeled the Grand Rapids Public Schools as a “drop out factory.”  In another show, Rick and Skot explored the intersection between religion and race with an African American professor at Calvin College who is facing dismissal if she doesn’t find a Christian Reformed church to attend.

Warner Norcross & Judd has been pleased to be a sponsor of the program since it began broadcasting in March 2006. Those who are not in listening distance of WTKG or who find the Monday morning timeslot inconvenient can download a podcast of each program at the Radio in Black and White website, which is underwritten by the firm.