Littler Mendelson named Paul Bateman as its first chief inclusion, equity and diversity officer as law firms tackle the lack of diversity in their ranks that has plagued the profession.
Bateman will be responsible for the firm’s inclusion, equity and diversity programs and initiatives, including the new compensation initiative that aims to double the number of attorneys of color, women and LGBTQ+ shareholders in the top quartile of Littler’s compensation system within the next five years.
”Diversity is very important to me personally, its important to me professionally, it’s one of the reasons I joined Littler,” Bateman said. “I just saw this incredible opportunity to take some of the things that I feel that I do well and contribute to the law firm.”
Littler, which has defended the likes of MVM Inc., Office Depot and the state of Arizona against various discrimination claims, joins the ranks of Big Law firms who have added c-suite positions as a way to step up their diversity efforts.
Blank Rome on Tuesday added Krystal Studavent Ramsey as its new director of diversity and inclusion. Sidley Austin, Fox Rothschild, Davis Wright Tremaine and Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo have all hired diversity officers over the last year.
Also on Tuesday, Hogan Lovells announced it would give up to 50 hours of billable credit to all U.S. counsel and associates for approved diversity and inclusion activity.
Bateman’s appointment at Littler follows the naming of Erin Webber as the firm’s new managing director and president as of Jan. 15, placing women in the top two roles at the firm.
As a part of the election process last May, Webber said all candidates were asked about their priorities. “And one of the things at the top of my list was a chief diversity officer,” she said.
Bateman will report directly to Webber and work with the firm’s management committee, office managing shareholders, practice group leaders and affinity groups. He’ll push to advance the firm’s strategy and its focus on recruiting, developing retaining and promoting diverse talent across all levels.
He joined Littler in 2000 and has served as a member of the firm’s diversity and inclusion council from its formation in 2003 until 2014. He was also a member of the firm’s management committee from 2006 until 2014.
The firm “decided that the time was right,” Webber said, “to operationalize this position, and put one person in charge of all of our efforts.”
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