Challenges and Initiatives: Increasing Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 95 minutes
Recorded Date: December 17, 2020
Click here to share this program
Download PDF


  • Increasing diverse candidates when hiring
  • Increasing upward movement in law firms
  • Creating mentorship programs for minorities
  • Implementing educational programs in organizations
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Recorded: December 17, 2020


The legal field is one of the least diverse professions in the United States. In fact, the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) highlighted a number of statistics in 2019 that deserve further review: African American lawyers accounted for 4.76% of associates, the overall percentage of LGBTQ lawyers represented 2.99%, less than 1% of partners reported having a disability, and veterans represented 1.76% of the lawyer population. The advancement of any organization depends on the different backgrounds and skills their employees possess. Diversity reflects society as a whole, it establishes systems to prevent discrimination, and it provides the ability to better serve all clients.

Panelists will explore methods to increase inclusion and diversity in the law profession through mentorship, promotion, and programming.

This program was recorded on December 17th, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Dean L. Burrell

Burrell Dispute Resolution

Dean Burrell is a nationally known labor and employment attorney with expertise gained from the National Labor Relations Board, law firms, and major domestic and international corporations. Dean has been a neutral, a union local president, and a management-side practitioner. He is also a leader in the minority labor and employment bar.

Before starting Burrell Dispute Resolution, Dean was Vice President of Labor Relations for Republic Services (formerly Allied Waste), the nation’s 2nd largest waste corporation ($8B+ in annual revenues). There Dean and his staff were responsible for the negotiation and administration of more than one hundred and fifty collective bargaining agreements. During his tenure he partnered with national unions to ensure the smooth transition of the labor function during the Republic ($6B) and Allied ($3B) merger. This was achieved by constant communications and close relationships with national and local union leadership, the hallmark of a practical approach to labor relations. Mr. Burrell was also responsible for developing and implementing strategies addressing the Affordable Care Act and multi-employer pension plan underfunding, areas of significant concern to both union and management.

Prior to Republic, Dean was Labor Counsel/Director of Labor Relations for Penske Truck Leasing. Dean was Chief Negotiator for scores of domestic and international collective bargaining agreements for truck maintenance and logistics units. He also handled arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board unfair labor practice and representation cases.

Before Penske, Mr. Burrell served as Counsel with Grotta, Glassman and Hoffman (now part of Fox Rothschild), a nationally ranked management-side labor and employment law firm. With Grotta he litigated, arbitrated and advised on a broad range of labor and employment issues within healthcare, manufacturing, retail, supermarkets, transportation, and warehousing.

Earlier, Dean was in government service with the District of Columbia Public Employee Relations Board, and as a Field Attorney with Baltimore Region of the National Labor Relations Board and a litigator with the Board’s Special Litigation Branch. He served as President of Local 5 of the National Labor Relations Board Union, and was a shop steward with the National Labor Relations Board Professional Association.

Dean Burrell began his career in Labor Relations as a Human Resources and Labor Relations professional with corporations, major universities and hospitals while completing his legal education.

Dean earned his LL.M. in Labor and Employment Law at Georgetown University Law Center; his J.D. at Washington College of Law, The American University; and his B.S. in the School of Industrial & Labor Relations at Cornell University. His Bar Admissions include New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Dean has completed the Arbitrator Training Program with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the EEOC New Investigator Training, Mediator Training with the Arizona Attorney General’s Conflict Resolution Program; and is in the Labor Arbitration Development Program of the Cornell University ILR School’s Scheinman Institute for Conflict Resolution.

Dean Burrell has been a leader in the Cornell University and minority communities. He is active with the Cornell University Industrial & Labor Relations Alumni Association (President), Cornell University ILR Dean’s Advisory Council, 100 Black Men Of America (former counsel for the New Jersey and Phoenix chapters), former Vice President for the Cornell Black Alumni Association, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Alpha Chapter Alumni Association (former President).

T.K. Floyd Foutz

T.K. Floyd Consulting

A desire to help others is a common theme in my life, and this desire has motivated many of my personal, educational, and professional pursuits. I try to live my life in a way that is in harmony with the well-known phrase “to whom much is given, much is required.”

As a military spouse, I have an intimate understanding of serving others and I aspire to do so in and with my life. I use my professional and personal skills to serve as a national speaker, mentor, diversity and inclusion professional, editor, legal services consultant, and creator of faith-based content.

Currently, I wear a number of professional hats. I am a national speaker on topics related to diversity and inclusion, including the impact of implicit bias in the legal profession. I also provide editing, ghostwriting, and publishing assistance to aspiring authors. I gain a sense of accomplishment by helping others achieve their dreams, even as I pursue my own dreams. In addition, my faith is a major component of my life. I develop and teach bible study lessons and I have spoken to faith communities on a variety of topics, from relationships to prayer.

I also actively mentor a number of students (from elementary school to law school) as well as young professionals. I was named the 2015 Adult Mentor of the Year by the San Antonio Mentoring Forum and a Campus Partner-of-the-Year Honoree in 2014, 2015, and 2016 for my work as a mentor at Jefferson Middle School in Texas.

I enjoy speaking and writing, especially to benefit community groups. My article “Manage Time as a Parent” was published in the April 2014 issue of Helotes Life magazine, a local community magazine in Texas. Additionally, I have spoken to a number of community groups on a variety of topics, including estate planning, critical thinking, mental health, mediation, stress management, and relaxation techniques.

Outside of my professional activities, I enjoy spending quality time with my blended family, reading, and playing word games.

Sheila S. Boston

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP

Sheila S. Boston is a trial lawyer and litigation strategist who defends clients from initiation of the case through trial and/or settlement.

Ms. Boston is valued by her clients for her advocacy skills, dependability, and collaborative spirit. Ms. Boston has successfully litigated before both state and federal courts, with significant MDL experience in mass tort actions, providing litigation avoidance counseling, and conducting audits to evaluate the potential product-related liabilities in proposed corporate acquisitions and reorganizations. She helps her clients by assessing litigation risks and defending lucrative products by weeding out frivolous individual personal injury lawsuits, defending against class actions and mass torts, and devising creative settlement solutions.

Adept in "battle of the experts" litigation, Ms. Boston has served as national coordinating counsel of experts, involving the retention, development and preparation of experts for depositions, Daubert/Frye hearings and trials; she has worked with numerous experts in various fields of medicine and science including, but not limited to, toxicology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, oncology, urology, hepatology, endocrinology, cardiology, psychology, and psychiatry.

A passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Ms. Boston has won several awards for her efforts including the prestigious Chambers Diversity Awards USA 2016 inaugural award for her "Outstanding Contribution to Furthering the Advancement of Diversity in the Legal Profession, Private Practice." An active participant in bar associations and the legal community at large, Ms. Boston was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve a three-year term on New York's First Department Judicial Screening Committee as well as appointed by Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to serve on the Circuit's Attorney Grievance Committee.

Orlando R. Richmond, Sr.

Butler Snow, LLP

Recognized as one of Benchmark Litigation’s 2019-2021 Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America, Rod Richmond is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and American College of Trial Lawyers and an Associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He has over 30 years of experience and served as lead counsel or co-counsel in numerous jury trials in state, federal and military venues. He has tried at least 60 cases to verdict, and his trial practice over the past several years has primarily focused on mass tort litigation involving pharmaceutical products, toxic torts and environmental issues. In addition to his product liability practice, he also defends Attorneys General consumer protection litigation for clients in a variety of industries.

He is frequently called upon to prepare and try cases in challenging venues with significant amounts in controversy. AmLaw’s The Litigation Daily profiled him as its Litigator of the Week, May 11, 2018, for his defense verdict in a bellwether Pradaxa® product liability trial, and Law360 featured him as one of its 2016 Trial Pros. He is known for his courtroom presence, calm demeanor at trial and oral advocacy skills. He has extensive experience and success in converting medical, scientific and industry information into presentations that are easy for juries to understand.

In June 2020, Rod authored a two-column article in Fortune on diversity and inclusion. In part one, he discussed three issues that contribute to a law firm environment where diverse lawyers are minimized and ultimately leave law firms. In part two, he discussed potential steps firms can take to address bias and retention. The Wall Street Journal pictured and quoted Rod in a September 2020 article discussing diversity issues and why there are still so few black executives in America’s top companies. His writing on diversity-related topics has also been published in The American Lawyer, DRI’s For The Defense, and Mississippi Business Journal, among others.

Rod is listed by a variety of other industry publications, including Chambers USA, LMG Life Sciences, The Best Lawyers in America, Who’s Who Legal: Product Liability Defence, Who’s Who Legal: Life Sciences, and Mid-South Super Lawyers. He has spoken on trial and litigation-related topics at prestigious industry conferences, including ACI’s Drug and Medical Device Litigation Seminar and IADC’s Corporate Counsel College.

Rod was profiled by the American College of Trial Lawyers in “Fellows as Ministers: Calling and Practice Not Mutually Exclusive,” Journal, Issue 89, Spring 2019, for serving as a pastor of Northside Christian Church in West Point, Mississippi. He is a member of the West Point, Mississippi Hall of Fame. He has served as City Attorney for West Point since 2005. He is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation, past president of the Mississippi Bar Association’s Litigation/General Practice Section, and served on the Mississippi Governor’s Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee. His litigation career began as a Marine Corps JAG Officer, and he was nominated for Outstanding Young Marine Corps Lawyer for his work.

Allison E. Laffey

Lafey, Leitner & Goode, LLC

As an associate at LLG, Allison brings the unrelenting passion of a young attorney to each case and every client.

Allison cut her teeth at the Atlanta offices of a large national firm, where her practice focused primarily on complex product liability, premises liability, and professional negligence and malpractice. She also has experience in toxic tort litigation and consulting. Prior to that, Allison worked at Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee.

Allison is the only LLG attorney who can honestly say she interned for the Canadian Senate. And like most younger associates, Allison is ambitious in seeking out opportunities to enhance her skillset. LLG integrates Allison into its client-focused teams where her youthful exuberance and brains are best put to use.

Similar Courses

Card image cap
60 minutes
A Cultural Competency Primer for the Young Lawyer
Get a brief overview of what cultural competency is, what implicit bias is, how it impacts the legal profession, and tips that you can begin implementing immediately to start working towards becoming culturally competent.

American Bar Association


Add to Cart
Card image cap
61 minutes
Access to Justice: Substantial Challenges and How You, the Law, and Technology Can Help
Join us for this session where we examine the problems while illustrating the ways the Legal Community is responding and what you can do to help.



Add to Cart
Card image cap
94 minutes
Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace During Times of Civil Unrest
Building and maintaining an inclusive workplace is always important. Navigating these challenges during civil unrest is now an extremely daunting task that organizations must take on as well. Join our panel of experts as they provide guidance on diversity and inclusion while supporting your employees during these times.

American Bar Association


Add to Cart
Card image cap
62 minutes
Bias Has Been Eliminated... Hypothetically Speaking
In this program, we discuss the elimination of bias in the legal profession. However, this is a two for one deal, because we also cover ethics. How do we accomplish that, you ask?

Stuart Teicher


Add to Cart
Previous Next