Warner Norcross Reads, Discusses “The Help” for its One Book, One Firm Series

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has chosen New York Times bestseller “The Help” as the 2011 selection for its One Book, One Firm series.

Now in its fourth 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. “The Help” is a 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, Mississippi. Set during the 1960s, the novel is told from three alternating perspectives as two African American maids and the college-educated daughter of a white family who decide to write a book and share their stories.

On Wednesday, July 13, attorneys and staff from Warner’s offices across Michigan joined in a special lunch-and-learn program to hear a panel discuss “The Help.” The panel featured Lois Smith Owens, professor and Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University, Jeanne Arnold, vice president for inclusion and equity at GVSU, and Rebecca Knack, a retired English teacher from East Grand Rapids High School who grew up in the 1950s in Laurel, Miss. and Memphis, Tenn.

“It was a wonderful discussion,” said Diversity Partner Rodney Martin. “The book has been enormously popular but the author has also been criticized for her portrayal of African-American characters. The panel did an excellent job helping us to evaluate the book and the criticisms.  The audience especially appreciated the the personal stories the panelists shared with us.”

In addition to encouraging attorneys and staff to read the book, the firm is sponsoring a firm-wide movie night to watch the movie adaptation of “The Help” when it is released later this month.  This will be followed by opportunities for firm members to participate in small group discussions.

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