“Home-grown” Partner and Litigator Will Translate Firm’s Diversity Plan Into Action
LAWFUEL – Legal Newswire – (June 11, 2008, Washington, D.C.) – Steptoe & Johnson LLP, a leading international law firm, today announced the appointment of Washington, D.C.-based partner Daryl A. “Sandy” Chamblee as its inaugural Chief Diversity Partner. The first “up-from-the-ranks” Steptoe partner of African-American heritage and one of its senior diverse partners, Ms. Chamblee will lead the implementation of Steptoe’s Diversity Action Plan in the firm’s eight offices worldwide. Ms. Chamblee will maintain her litigation practice and continue to chair the firm’s Diversity Committee and Hiring Committee.
In making this appointment, Roger Warin stressed: “I am responsible as Chair of Steptoe’s Executive Committee and as a member of the legal profession to ensure that diversity is a core value of this firm. A diverse and inclusive workplace is critical to our ability to provide first class legal services for our clients and to maintain our collegiality. Sandy is both professionally and personally committed to the firm, well respected by her colleagues, and trusted by its leadership. Sandy’s assumption of this key role adds momentum to Steptoe’s existing strategic diversity efforts and gives us exceptional leadership in advancing this important firm objective.”
The Diversity Action Plan is based on the results of a firmwide assessment undertaken in 2007, which identified areas in which the firm seeks to improve. The Plan was approved by Steptoe’s Executive Committee at the end of last year and embraced by the firm’s attorneys in a series of meetings this spring.
“The fact that this action plan is so strongly supported by the firm’s leadership is indicative of our commitment to maintaining a diverse, collegial workplace,” said Ms. Chamblee. “I’m honored to lead this important initiative. Steptoe has sharpened its diversity focus and intensified specific activities to strengthen the firm’s inclusiveness. My efforts will focus not only on hiring and retention initiatives, but more importantly on sustaining a receptive, supportive environment that allows all personnel to contribute their varied talents to Steptoe’s success and to their own.”
Ms. Chamblee’s approach will emphasize not only more innovative efforts to attract, retain, and advance top women, minority, and other diverse lawyers, but will foster a supportive environment in which diverse attorneys will thrive. “Not only must we bring in diverse talent, but we must also ensure that our diverse attorneys have the resources they need to become fully engaged and successful members of the firm and the legal community as a whole.”
Ms. Chamblee plans to initiate a number of activities to enhance the integration of women and minorities into all levels and all aspects of the firm’s operations, including work assignments, networking, and business development opportunities, as well as activities that broadly address work-life balance. These plans also include the development of internal and external communication initiatives to heighten awareness of the importance of diversity and Steptoe’s new strategies to promote it in the workplace and profession. She is currently working on the creation of methods to monitor the success of the various programs.
A 1977 graduate of Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America, Ms. Chamblee has more than two decades of experience as an attorney and senior advisor in policy analysis and development, conflict resolution, and strategic planning in biotechnology, health care, and complex, multiparty litigation in the insurance, energy, and toxic tort contexts. In the mid-1990s, she left private practice to serve in senior policy positions at the National Institutes of Health. In 1997, she chaired the Board of Directors of Columbia Hospital for Women Foundation in the nation’s capital, serving as co-administrator of the institution on many issues.
Since her return to Steptoe in 1997, Ms. Chamblee has concentrated her practice on life sciences, health, and medical issues. She also has had substantial experience in administrative and civil litigation, including insurance coverage, energy-related, and toxic tort matters. She will now divide her time equally between her practice and her commitments as Chief Diversity Partner and Chairs of the Hiring and Diversity Committees.
Diversity at Steptoe encompasses race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. The firm is a charter signatory to the Policy Statement Regarding Minority Hiring and Retention of the District of Columbia Conference on Opportunities for Minorities in the Legal Profession. The membership of its firmwide Diversity Committee reflects a broad cross-section of the firm. “Steptoe is fully committed to doing what it takes to translate this newly approved Plan into action,” said Ms. Chamblee. “The Diversity Committee has worked hard to create a blueprint for fostering and managing real, systemic changes. My role is to bring this plan to life.”