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Connie Lahn
Connie Lahn

2021 Diversity & Inclusion: Connie Lahn

Barnes & Thornburg

After the world-changing death of George Floyd in 2020, the management committee at Minneapolis law firm Barnes & Thornburg took positive action by launching the Barnes & Thornburg Racial and Social Justice Foundation, to support organizations that focus on promoting, advocating and effecting racial and social justice.

Managing partner Connie Lahn was appointed as chair, in charge of drafting the founding documentation, setting up rules and guidelines for donations and more. In its first six months, the Foundation received $200,000 in donations from employees and partners, which was used to make donations to organizations in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Minneapolis.

Locally, the Foundation donated $50,000 to an innovative organization called All Square, which enrolls and pays for people who are incarcerated to study to become a paralegal or an attorney. With the Foundation, “we wanted to create a long-term commitment,” Lahn said. “This year we have already raised $300,000” within the firm.

Promoting equal opportunity and diversity has been a primary interest for Lahn since college. She is a member of an American College of Bankruptcy Fellows Committee on Diversity, which is examining “what are we doing wrong and what could we be doing better.”

Speaking of diversity — or lack of it — Lahn remembers the first time she was involved in a large Chapter 11 case, in 2016. “The judge was a woman, one of the other counsels involved was a Black man and my local counsel was a Black woman. That was the first time in all these years I had seen that much diversity” in one case, said Lahn, who has also been a longtime member of the Minnesota Women Lawyers Advisory board, and Twin Cities Diversity in Practice’s Leadership Council. “It has not happened since.”

In 2019, Lahn was inducted into the prestigious American College of Bankruptcy, becoming one of only four women members of the college in the 8th Judicial Circuit. Lahn also serves on the ACB’s DEI committee to help promote and encouraged nomination of diverse members.

As the Minneapolis office managing partner, Lahn was instrumental in changing the culture at Barnes & Thornburg to promote a culture where “people respect and treat each other well.”

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