Posted February 16, 2017 2:40 PM

Firm opens its office to good cause

By Lauren P. Duncan
Law Bulletin staff writer

The office of a long-standing group dedicated to bolstering minority opportunities in large Chicago law firms has moved a few blocks northeast in the Loop.

The Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms has relocated from the McDermott Will & Emery LLP office at 227 W. Monroe St. to the Bryan Cave LLP office at 161 N. Clark St.

The move comes as a result of the organization’s tradition of moving between its member firm offices every few years.

The group, which is commonly referred to as the Chicago Committee, consists of 43 member law firms. The group has two staff members — Executive Director Jennifer M. Reddien and Program Director Hillary Hitt — who made the move to their new rent-free space at Bryan Cave in December.

Chicago office managing partner Joseph Q. McCoy, who is on the Chicago Committee’s board, said having the committee staff located within the firm’s office makes sense as there are multiple Chicago Committee board members who work at Bryan Cave.

Both McCoy and partner Jason J. DeJonker serve on the group’s governing board, and DeJonker is also on the executive committee. Associate Mariangela “Merili” M. Seale currently chairs the associate board.

“One of our core values as a firm is that we’re committed to diversity and for us, we try to let our actions speak louder than words,” McCoy said about the move. “We have been engaged with the Chicago Committee for a number of years, I’ve sat on the board for a number of years and I think we’re in a unique situation in that we have three very active lawyers who are formally engaged with the Chicago Committee both at the governing board level and at the associate board level.”

“I just felt that it was appropriate, I knew that it was about that time where the Chicago Committee would be rotating to a new law firm and Jennifer [Reddien] and I discussed what their needs were and as a firm we were happy to be able to accommodate that,” McCoy said.

The Chicago Committee is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It formed in 1987 with about 10 African-American lawyers. Its work today includes programming throughout the year aimed at supporting minority lawyers across the city’s largest firms.

Over the years, the group has been hosted by several firms. Reddien said she’s both thankful to Bryan Cave hosting the group and the previous firms that have opened their doors to the committee staff.

“We are very grateful for all the firms that have hosted us over the years and continue to support our growth and activities,” Reddien said in a news release. “We are looking forward to collaborating with Bryan Cave and other firms over the next year to ensure our membership and programming continue to expand in 2017.”

Last week, McCoy said, the group held its annual Associate Boot Camp program at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP in which speakers offered advice to junior associates.

The group is also preparing for its annual meeting on March 2. McCoy said the group’s boards are also working together to create some upcoming workshops that members will hear more about.

He encouraged any large firms who have a presence in the city that aren’t Chicago Committee members to consider joining the group.

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