Warner Norcross Signs Action Plan to Increase Diversity and Inclusion with the GRBA Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative


Grand Rapids, Michigan, March 22, 2012Warner Norcross & Judd LLP today signed the Action Plan of the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative, an initiative sponsored by the Grand Rapids Bar Association and other law firms to increase diversity and promote inclusion in the area’s legal community. 

Warner Norcross Managing Partner Douglas E. Wagner and Diversity Partner Rodney Martin D. Martin from West Michigan’s largest law firm were on hand for the signing ceremony at 5 p.m.  The five-year plan details how the GRBA, Warner Norcross and 12 other law firms will work to “achieve diversity and inclusion in the education, retention and promotion of Michigan’s attorneys.”  

The action plan focuses on three critical issues facing the GRBA and member firms – recruitment, retention and pipeline development – and provides specific action steps to address each.   Warner Norcross also named attorneys and staff to serve on the committees formed by the Collaborative to address each:

  • Expanding the pipeline of persons of color who enter law school: Attorney Dan Borst
  • Increasing the number attorneys of color in our organizations within five years: Marketing Director Randy Goble and Legal Recruiting Director Cathleen Dubault
  • Improving the retention and advancement of female attorneys and attorneys of color: Rodney Martin 

“Promoting diversity and inclusion within our firm and within the Grand Rapids legal community remains one of the top priorities of Warner Norcross,” Wagner explained.  “We are very pleased to partner with the Grand Rapids Bar Association and other area law firms to develop and commit to a five-year plan of action with tangible goals.  It is important for us to work together as a legal community to address the issues of recruitment, retention and pipeline development so that we can offer more opportunities for attorneys of color and women.” 

Warner Norcross was among the initial signatories of the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative, which was established by the GRBA in June 2011.  Wagner and Martin worked closely with GRBA President Mark Smith and Executive Directory Kimberly A. Coleman, along with colleagues from other firms, to develop the action plan.  Some of the recommendations include:

  • Recruiting attorneys and staff to participate in Schools of Hope tutoring programs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other programs
  • Expanding opportunities for the Minority Clerkship Program, including development of judicial internships
  • Developing a mentorship program for lateral associates of color to facilitate a connection to the community
  • Instituting an annual training program on diversity and inclusion, sponsored by GRBA and the Collaborative member firms
  • Developing social media strategies to provide information and resources 

The action plan, which details more than 45 initiatives over a five-year timeline, can be read HERE.

Warner Norcross has a strong and lengthy track record in diversity initiatives, including:

  • Providing scholarships to encourage women and minorities to pursue legal careers or to prepare for the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, which is the entrance exam to law school
  • Supporting community initiatives, such as a mock trial program for high school students and an annual writing contest for elementary school students that honors the work and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Developing a system to monitor assignments and track progress toward partnership
  • Offering numerous internal education programs, including a One Book, One Firm reading and discussion program, as well as lunch-and-learn programs
  • Strengthening mentoring programs to ensure that all attorneys have the opportunity to succeed and grow
  • Publishing a Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report, now entering its sixth year