As the practice of law becomes more competitive and more global, firms and corporations are recognizing the need to have a diverse battery of attorneys to offer clients. But for a number of reasons related to geography, tradition and plain recalcitrance, the transition to diversity and inclusion in law has not been easy.
Minnesota Lawyer recently convened a panel discussion of six legal professionals who had a great deal of thought and expertise on this complex topic. That discussion, edited for length and clarity, can be read by clicking the image at right.
Meet the experts:
U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer
Judge Hildy Bowbeer was appointed a United States magistrate judge for the District of Minnesota in June 2014. Before her appointment, she was an attorney with 3M Co.’s Legal Affairs Department, where she managed the company’s intellectual property litigation both in the U.S. and internationally. Bowbeer received her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1979. Bowbeer is a judicial adviser to the Sedona Conference and has contributed to its projects on electronic discovery, patent litigation best practices, and trade secret litigation. She is a member of the Federal Practice Committee for the District of Minnesota and co-authored the district’s Guide for Practitioners on electronic discovery.
James L. Chosy, executive vice president and general counsel at U.S. Bank
Jim Chosy is executive vice president and general counsel of U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States. Chosy is responsible for all aspects of the company’s legal affairs. Chosy rejoined U.S. Bancorp in 2013 from Piper Jaffray Cos. He had served as managing director, general counsel and secretary of Piper Jaffray since March 2001. He first joined U.S. Bancorp (then First Bank System) in 1995, having begun his legal career with the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis. Chosy is a life fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. He received his J.D. degree magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1989.
Amy C. Taber, employment and litigation senior legal counsel at Prime Therapeutics
Amy Taber is Prime Therapeutics’ employment and litigation senior legal counsel. She provides legal advice and support to Prime’s human resources and facilities teams and assists with oversight of Prime’s employment and general business litigation activities. Taber began practicing law in 2004 and was a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP before joining Prime. Before becoming a lawyer, she was a human resources professional for 10 years. Taber serves on MWL’s board of directors as the current president-elect and co-chair of the governance committee. Taber earned her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, her MBA from St. Thomas University and her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law.
Eric Rucker, senior counsel, litigation and preventive law at 3M
Eric Rucker is senior counsel with 3M Litigation and Preventive Law, where he manages mass tort, product liability, and commercial litigation. Rucker also provides product liability prevention training and gives advice on product labeling, warning, and warranty issues. He also chairs the 3M Legal Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Before joining 3M, Eric was a litigation attorney with Briggs and Morgan P.A. in Minneapolis, where he focused on mass tort, product liability, financial services, and complex commercial litigation matters. Rucker is a board member of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. He received his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1993.
Dionne W. Blake, senior director and assistant general counsel at Target
Dionne Blake serves as senior director, assistant general counsel for Target Corp. She leads the litigation team that manages employment-based, enterprise-wide class and collective actions, manages the Diversity Analytics team and the nationwide integrity hotline team. In previous roles she has provided support on all employment law matters to Target’s headquarters divisions and all functions, including Target’s global sourcing offices and Target India’s team. Additionally, she has held a variety of legal roles at Target including supporting stores, supply chain/distribution and leading the enterprise wide wage and hour compliance function. Before joining Target, Dionne has held positions both as in-house counsel, and as a litigator counseling and defending employers in labor and employment matters.
Amy Salmela, shareholder at Patterson Thuente
Amy Salmela is a shareholder with Patterson Thuente IP. Salmela’s practice focuses primarily on patent prosecution related to electrical engineering and electronics, including medical devices and informatics, computer hardware and software, telecommunications, and retail logistics and analytics technologies. Her practice includes strategic IP portfolio growth and management for a range of clients, from startups to large, multinational corporations, as well as investment and acquisition IP due diligence, opinion work and litigation support. Salmela leads Patterson Thuente IP’s recruiting & diversity committee and works hand-in-hand with inside resources and law schools to attract and retain a diverse team of attorneys at the firm.