Chief Diversity and Inclusion OfficerCompany: Stinson Leonard Street
Role: Session Presenter
Session: Disrupting Structural Barriers Impeding Advancement of Lawyers of Color (SEM-J)
Ann Jenrette-Thomas is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Stinson Leonard Street. She oversees the implementation of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. Ann collaborates with the firm’s leadership, board of directors and Diversity Committee to identify strategies to achieve the firm’s goals for hiring, retaining, and advancing diverse attorneys and staff.
Under Ann’s leadership, Stinson has achieved a number of successes since she joined the firm in November 2016, including:
- A 50 percent increase in attorneys of color.
- The creation of eight employee resource groups to foster greater inclusion, professional
development, and business development among women, people of color, LGBT
individuals and veterans.
- The launch of a Minority Fellowship for 1L students that provides up to $30,000 in tuition
assistance in addition to a 1L summer associate position with the possibility for a 2L
summer associate position.
- The 2018 Missouri Lawyers Media’s Inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Award; Stinson
was the only law firm to be recognized with the honor.
The secret to Ann’s success is the two-pronged approach she takes toward diversity and inclusion. First is individual responsibility – equipping people with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to create an inclusive environment. This requires becoming aware of unconscious biases and changing behavior. The second prong involves eradicating the effects of bias through systems and processes. Ann addresses structural biases through firm wide retention strategies and practice group diversity training, as well as a targeted approach to succession planning. Ann knows that individual responsibility coupled with debiasing systems and processes can create lasting change. Ann takes an innovative approach to addressing challenges within the firm and profession. After noticing that diverse lawyers and law students were inadvertently foreclosing opportunities because they did not know the unwritten rules for big law success, Ann created Big Law Success: The Inside Scoop for Law Students and New Lawyers, a 5-series podcast that demystifies how to thrive in Big Law. In a similar vein, Ann led a multi-stop roadshow to law schools in order to educate diverse law students on the importance of a strong personal brand. She has also worked with several organizations on diversifying the law school pipeline. Throughout her career, she has conducted hundreds of presentations and authored numerous publications, including the Amazon best seller, The Happy Law Practice: Expert Strategies to Build Business and Maintain Peace of Mind. Before joining the firm, Ann was a diversity and inclusion consultant, an attorney at an Am Law 100 law firm, a judicial clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and a legislative attorney for the New York City Council. She also was president and CEO of a nonprofit organization.