LCLD’s 2024 Spring Meeting: A Personal Reflection

March 5, 2024 Publications

“Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the centre of our lives.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Shining in the bright sun of San Diego stands “Breaking of the Chains” a sculpture by African-American artist Melvin Edwards, created in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The sculpture symbolises the breaking of the chains of discrimination. At the base of the sculpture is a plaque bearing the quotation cited above.

It is fitting that this sculpture stands opposite to the venue of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD) 2024 Spring Meeting, which I was fortunate enough to attend from 22 to 24 February. Respecting that the Spring Meeting was governed by Chatham House / Vegas Rules, this reflection is based solely on my own experience.

The Spring Meeting began with opening remarks from Nichole Velasquez, Fellows Program Director, whose enthusiasm was infectious. There were approximately 200 Fellows from across the United States, together with a handful of international Fellows, like myself. Almost straightaway, introductions were made, stories swapped and connections created. As Nichole set out the agenda, I felt extremely grateful to participate in this programme: such opportunities for personal growth and relationship building do not come along every day and Nichole’s words inspired me to grasp them with both hands.

LCLD President Robert Grey then held the room, delivering powerful words on the responsibilities of diverse attorneys and our importance in upholding the rule of law, being the foundation of our society, particularly in times of uncertainty.

What is possible? That was the question posed by the first session of the Spring Meeting on “Building Trust” led by Rudhir Krishtel. Trust is integral to every aspect of my practice: in how I deal with my clients, colleagues and opposing counsel. It is also integral to my relationship with myself. Rudhir’s session was both fun and thought-provoking.

The day ended with informal dine-ins, where I met some amazing people from all over the U.S. (including attorneys from California, Florida, New York and Tennessee). Despite our diverse backgrounds, we all had so much in common, more than just our appreciation of the amazing Italian food and wine at Barbusa in San Diego’s Little Italy district.

During breakfast on Friday, I was able to catch up with my colleague, Associate Taylor Green, who sits in our Washington, D.C., office and who co-leads Armstrong Teasdale’s Black Engagement Network. Taylor is participating in the LCLD Pathfinder programme and is a wonderful ambassador for the firm. Prior to joining Armstrong Teasdale, Taylor was an in-house attorney, focusing in risk and compliance. She now has a practice on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, advising on compliance and risk management in that sphere.

Friday started with a session hosted by Deloitte on Business Chemistry. I would encourage everyone to explore this further: Business Chemistry® | Deloitte US, although as an “Integrator / Pioneer,” I would say that! I had great fun thinking about which categories my Armstrong Teasdale colleagues fall into: Driver, Pioneer, Integrator or Guardian. The purpose of the session was to analyse our own working styles and how we can get the best out of our colleagues by considering their styles.

The morning’s second session was led by Tasneem Khokha and focused on “Demonstrating Leadership in Times of Uncertainty and Upheaval”. We thought about our top five leadership values. I consider that mine are: accountability, self-awareness, generosity, integrity and a commitment to excellence.

Friday concluded with Paula Edgar’s session on “Leveraging Personal Branding for Professional Success,” which is an area I have found challenging in the past. From that session, I was able to take away a tool kit to improve my confidence in this area, and I am raring to put all Paula’s ideas into action.

The Spring Meeting concluded on Saturday with two sessions, the first hosted by Mary Abbajay on “Managing Up” and the second on “Embracing Generational Diversity and the Arrival of Gen Z” by Chris De Santis. We are really fortunate at Armstrong Teasdale to have a great cohort of young talent with whom it is great fun to work and whose perspectives are refreshing.

I am incredibly grateful to Armstrong Teasdale for putting me forward for the LCLD Fellows programme. My takeaway from the Spring Meeting has been that recognising and celebrating all my colleagues’ unique and diverse contributions to our workplace unlocks value for both clients and colleagues alike. Even though we may come from different cultures, we often have far more in common than we might at first believe. I look forward to continued participation in the Fellows programme as the year goes on, and hope to gain additional perspective on how best to serve my clients, and advance other diverse lawyers and professionals.

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