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Foley Hoag First Diversity Director Brings Fresh Perspective

Sept. 16, 2019, 10:02 AM

Foley Hoag has added Rosa Nunez as its first-ever director of diversity and inclusion joining other firms that have taken similar steps with Big Law under pressure to bring in and promote more minorities and women.

Nunez joins from public relations firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe where she served as its senior vice president and senior director of diversity and inclusion. Prior to that, Nunez was the head of diversity and inclusion at Omnicom Media Group USA.

“Law firms [and] the law industry is struggling and bringing someone who has some fresh ideas and outside perspective I’m hoping can really shake some things up,” said Kenneth Leonetti, managing partner at the Boston-based firm.

“And they’re willing and allowing me to do so,” added Nunez, who will also co-chair the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee alongside Leonetti.

A 2018 study by the National Association for Law Placement published this year found that while women, minorities and LGBT lawyers made gains in representation at major U.S. law firms, progress has been incremental at best. Such lags have caused clients and in-house counsel to push for more focus on diversity at their outside law firms.

Some Big Law firms have responded.

Most recently, Ropes & Gray announced last week that it was hiring its first-ever diversity and inclusion director in its 154-year history with the addition of Kia Scipio from Fish & Richardson.

And Kirkland & Ellis brought on Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s global head of diversity and inclusion, Joi Bourgeois, as its firm-wide director of diversity and inclusion earlier in the month.

Life’s Experiences

Nunez’s family immigrated from the Dominican Republic to New York when she was 18 and was one of only two Latinos at her high school.

“I always say that diversity and inclusion found me,” Nunez said.

Nunez spent over a decade at Accenture as part of its diversity and inclusion team before joining Omnicom in 2014.

Though she’s had over a decade of experience in the area, Nunez said she never imagined working at a law firm in this capacity. But many of the challenges that the legal industry faces in attracting, retaining and elevating women and diverse talent transcend industry sectors.

“I see it as a same issue, different customer kind of approach,” Nunez said.

At Foley Hoag, Nunez will work with the firm’s executive and diversity committee.

It has made strides in entry level hires and building a talent pipeline, but felt about a year ago that it needed to focus on retention and advancement of women and diverse talent, Leonetti said.

The firm decided to bring on a full-time, dedicated professional.

“The work has started [and] you have a good ground work around diversity and inclusion,” Nunez said. “But this is the time to have someone like me come in and take the firm’s vision and goals into reality—take it to the next level.”

Foley Hoag has very specific internal goals of what it wants to see for the firm, which includes its staff and will use data-driven approach to measure its metrics on both retention and advancement, the pair said.

Foley Hoag has internal metrics, but Leonetti said law firms need to collectively work together to figure out how to advance diversity and inclusion within the profession.

“The rising sea does raise all ships,” Leonetti said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com