Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo appointed its first director of diversity, inclusion and equity, taking the step as a national conversation about race has prompted law firms to formulate new diversity plans and boost their minority ranks.
Litigation partner Narges Kakalia will step into the role on Nov. 2. She specializes in complex commercial litigation and has been with the firm for 18 years, making partner in 2012.
Kakalia has served as the firm’s first ombudsperson, vice-chaired its pro bono committee for over a decade, and is a member of the steering committee of the Women’s Initiative. She also leads the firm’s affinity group for minority attorneys and senior professionals.
Most recently, she helped spearhead the firm’s “Driving Change” antiracism initiative, which was launched following the calls to combat systemic racism and racial inequality following George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody in May. The multi-step initiative includes a firm target of increasing the number of black attorneys by 50% by June 30, 2022, as well as examining firm processes and procedures through an antiracism lens.
Kakalia said she’s spent more time since Floyd’s death on diversity issues and being a conduit to conversations with the firm’s partners and leaders and across the firm generally.
“I think that just got me thinking about doing diversity, inclusion and equity work full-time in a way that would help the entire firm move in the right direction,” she said.
Kakalia said she will work to facilitate conversations at the firm about inequality as it relates to race, gender and sexual identity and orientation with the long-term goal of providing each person the opportunity to succeed at the firm.
“Appointing an accomplished professional and tireless advocate for diverse groups to this position was integral to our goal of leading from the front in taking thoughtful and aggressive steps to level the playing field in the practice of law,” Mintz Levin managing partner Bob Bodian said in a statement.
Increasing diversity at Big Law firms, which have traditionally struggled to increase the number of women and people of color in their attorney and partner ranks, is getting more attention.
Hogan Lovells recently announced new diversity targets for its global partnerships. By 2025, the firm is aiming for its partnerships in the U.S. and U.K. to be comprised of 15% minority partners and 4% LGBTQ+ partners.
Reed Smith, through its Racial Equity Action Plan, set benchmarks to increase its ranks of black lawyers by 50% at the firm as well as increase the percentage of black leadership at the firm by 30% by 2024.
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