HISTORY AND PROGRAMS
The Philadelphia Diversity Law Group (PDLG) is committed to fostering participation of a more diverse group of lawyers in the Greater Philadelphia Region in order to make our legal profession stronger, more productive and better equipped to address the challenges of the twenty-first century. As part of this mission, PDLG creates programs to enhance recruitment and retention of lawyers of diverse backgrounds by law firms and corporate law departments in this region.
PDLG stands in solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander colleagues and communities. We denounce anti-Asian racism and violence. Please join us in fighting racism, bigotry, violence, and harassment of any kind and in working to dispel stereotypes that affect the members of our legal community and our communities at large.
PDLG will forever oppose racism against our Black brothers and sisters. We ask you to join us in being part of a meaningful solution to institutionalized racism and in continuing to strive for the greater inclusion of our Black brothers and sisters at all levels in the practice of law.
“I have the power to do anything I want to this black man and there is nothing you can do about it.” Those were not the words out of Derek Chauvin’s mouth; it was written on his face for all of us to see. Finally, America, what so many of us knew to be true for more than 400 years now stares us in the face.
When Emmett Till’s mother demanded an open casket for her mutilated and lynched 14-year-old son, she wanted the world to see “what they did to my baby.” But the world looked away. We cannot look away anymore.
When a mother and son screamed at their forced separation we could not hear. When a 46-year-old man - over 6 feet tall and more than 200 lbs. - cried out for his deceased mother moments before his death, we heard him. We saw and heard torture and death for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
We at the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group will forever see and hear what hatred of our black brothers and sisters looks and sounds like and will forever see and hear their pain and anguish. We ask that you join us in seeing and hearing the pain of black people in America and being part of a meaningful solution to institutionalized racism against our black brothers and sisters.
In 1993, many local law firms and corporate legal departments signed a “statement of goals” presented by then Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Andre Dennis and agreed to increase minority attorney representation and retention at their organizations. Although the Philadelphia Bar Association and individual employers had made some progress since signing the statement of goals in 1993, it was recognized that a concerted effort was required if the number of minority lawyers in the Philadelphia legal community was going to increase. In 1998, Nolan Atkinson, Jr. of Duane Morris and Jonathan Waller of Sunoco were brought together by then Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Edward Chacker to take a hard look at this area of concern for the Philadelphia bar.
Out of the meetings between Nolan and Jon and their discussions with other lawyers a Steering Committee was formed in 2000. The Steering Committee consisted of Nolan, Jon, Andre Dennis, Greg Matthews, Tobey Oxholm, Elaine Rinaldi and Robert Vogel. The Steering Committee convened a diversity retreat on June 2, 2000. The retreat was for senior in-house counsel and law firm chairpersons, managing partners and practice leaders. Its purpose was to evaluate the status of diverse lawyers in the area bar and to brainstorm how best to move forward with initiatives to increase diversity. Working with expert consultants, the group came up with a multi-pronged approach to be implemented under the auspices of what eventually became the PDLG.
Initially, the plan was to establish a non-profit corporation which would create a registry of diverse lawyers and law students seeking positions in Philadelphia and a second registry of volunteer mentors for diverse lawyers. In addition, the new corporation would serve as a resource center for educational programs and strategies for increasing diversity as well as to promote Philadelphia as a great place for diverse lawyers to work.
The work moved forward and in 2001, PDLG was incorporated with twelve members. The founding members, as listed in the original By-Laws, were Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, Cozen and O’Connor, Dechert, Drinker Biddle & Reath, Duane Morris & Heckscher, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Pepper Hamilton; Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, ACE USA and SUNOCO, Inc. From this modest beginning, PDLG has grown to 35 members - 23 law firms and 12 law departments.
While the mission has never changed, some of the programs designed to accomplish that mission have. Over the years, PDLG’s programs have focused on four areas: lawyer recruitment, student pipeline, legal community education and lawyer retention.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Co-President – Maria Lewis, Faegre Drinker
Co-President – Leslie John, Ballard Spahr
Secretary/Treasurer – Albert Dandridge, Schnader
Vice President – Marie Dukes, FMC
Vice President for Programs – Lois Kimbol
Executive Committee Members 2020 - 2021
Raymond Williams, DLA Piper
Prince Thomas, Fox Rothschild
Shoshana Schiller, Manko Gold
Sohana Sethi, Comcast Cable
John Lee, Morgan Lewis
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ballard Spahr LLP
Blank Rome LLP
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
Comcast Cable Communications LLC
Cozen O’Connor, PC
Dilworth Paxson LLP
DLA Piper LLP (US)
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP
Duane Morris LLP
Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC
Fox Rothschild LLP
Hogan Lovells US, LLP
Holland & Knight LLP
Independence Blue Cross
Lilton R. Taliaferro Jr.
Littler Mendelson, P.C.
Barbara Rittinger Rigo
Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, LLP
Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, LLP
Post & Schell
Reed Smith LLP
Saul Ewing LLP
Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis LLP
Albert S. Dandridge, III
Spark Theraputics, Inc.
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.
Stevens & Lee
Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, LLP
The Vanguard Group
White and Williams LLP
Special Board Member
Special Board Member
Special Board Member
Special Board Member