Archive for February 2009

• WNJ Issues 2008 Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report

2008 Diversity and Inclusion Annual ReportWarner Norcross has issued its third annual report regarding the firm’s initiatives to become a more diverse and inclusive organization.  The 2008 Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report includes a letter from Managing Partner Doug Wagner, in which he reviews the firm’s progress.  It also includes articles regarding some of the programs and initiatives at the firm this past year.  To see a copy of the report, click on the image to the left.

Copies of the firm’s annual reports for 2006 and 2007 may be found on the firm’s website by clicking here.

• Taste of Soul Sunday, February 22

The Main Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library will host Taste of Soul Sunday to celebrate African American history and culture on Sunday February 22, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Sample African American art, music, literature, history and food samples provided by Sandmann’s, Jamaican Dave’s and Selam Store. All events are free and open to the public.

 Here is a schedule of events:

 On Stage In the Ryerson Auditorium

 1:15 pm – Storyteller La’Ron Williams,

2:00 pm – R&B singer Jamal Chilton

2:45 pm – R&B singer Fowziyah

3:30 pm – Rapper Naeink and the Pure Harmony Dance Team

4:15 pm – Gospel singer Debra Perry

Continue reading ‘• Taste of Soul Sunday, February 22’ »

• GR Bar Association Diversity Committee Tribute to African American Legal Trailblazers – February 24

In celebration of Black History Month, the Grand Rapids Bar Association’s Diversity Committee will host a reception in recognition of this historic year. The reception, “Great Accomplishments…Great Expectations: A Tribute to African-American Legal Trailblazers,” will be held on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of San Chez Bistro.

The event will recognize African-American lawyers and judges who have accomplished notable “firsts” within our city, our state, and our nation. There is no charge to attend the reception, which will offer an array of appetizers and a cash bar.  You do, however, need to register online or by calling Lee Sullivan at 616-454-5550.

• Alice Kennedy Records Audiobook of “Stealing Buddha’s Dinner”

Alice Kennedy, who made two presentations to the firm last year as part of our One Book, One Firm program, was selected to narrate the audiobook version of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner.  Alice was selected after a rigorous audition process.  She recorded the book at the studios of Brilliance Audio, Inc., in Grand Haven.  Brilliance Audio is the largest independent audiobook publisher in the United States.  The audiobook of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner will be released on March 1, 2009.  It may be preordered on

• WNJ Prepares Central HS Mock Trial Teams

2008 Central High School Mock Trial TeamFor the third year, Warner is coaching the Grand Rapids Central High School Mock Trial team. Since November, Warner attorneys have been visiting the school to help students prepare to play the role of attorneys and witnesses in the fictional case of Young v. Gardner.

On March 7, 2009, the team will compete in the Western Regional Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Michigan Center for Civic Education.  The event will be held at the Kent County Courthouse. With the help of coaches, Sarah Howard, Madelaine Lane, Inga Hofer, Scott Carvo, Jeanne Long, Joe Sadler, Julie Lam, Christine Maher, and Dan Borst, the students have prepared the case from start to finish. They have studied the affidavits and police reports, drafted their direct and cross-examination questions, and authored opening and closing arguments. In fact, there was so much enthusiasm in this year’s class, that Central High School has entered two teams in the competition.

As always, we hope to have a strong contingent from Warner to support the students at the competition on March 7th. If you have any questions, or are interested in helping the teams in these closing weeks, please contact Sarah Howard or Madelaine Lane.

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is looking for attorneys and paralegals to volunteer as judges and bailiff/timekeeperss in the competition.   If you are interested in volunteering, open the Volunteer Registration Form for details.  Volunteers are needed in Grand Rapids on Saturday, March 7 and Pontiac on Saturday, March 14.

• Warner Receives 2009 Diversity Visionary Award

07 DVAC AwardWarner Norcross & Judd LLP has received the 2009 Diversity Visionary Award from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

The award, which will be presented at the Chamber’s biennial Diversity Visionary Award  Celebration on March 12, is given to a person or an organization that “demonstrates excellence and commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion” with “innovative and persistent” leadership.  Award recipients also “elevate and encourage ongoing efforts that contribute to a pluralistic and welcoming community.”

“We are honored to be recognized by the Chamber for our Firm’s diversity efforts,” said Douglas E. Wagner, managing partner of Warner Norcross.  “Under the leadership of Rodney Martin, our diversity partner, we have continued to expand our programs and initiatives to create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace for attorneys and staff. 

“We greatly appreciate this acknowledgement of our sustained commitment to increasing diversity within our firm and the profession.  As a firm, we are committed to being a leader in diversity within the communities where we live and work and within the legal profession.”

Warner Norcross, which is the largest law firm in West Michigan, has six offices throughout the state with more than 210 attorneys.  Achievements in its diversity initiatives include:

  • Implementation of programs to increase retention of minority and women attorneys
  • Expanded recruiting of minority and women attorneys at all levels
  • Scholarships and other programs designed to expand the pipeline of minority lawyers
  • Firm-wide diversity education with innovative programming
  • Internal diversity blog to maintain an ongoing discussion of diversity and cultural competence
  • Publication of its third Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report

“The field of nominees was extremely competitive,” said Sonya Hughes, vice president of diversity initiatives and programs for the Chamber.  “So much is going on throughout the business community to improve cultural competency, but the selection committee was particularly impressed with Warner’s systemic diversity effort, and the way it is measured and sustained.”

Past winners of the Diversity Visionary Award have included Cascade Engineering, Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett and Robert Woodrick, former president of D&W Food Centers.