Equity for Youth in the Legal System
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Legal Education
Diversity in Leadership of Legal Profession
Diversity and Equity in the Courts
Equity in the Criminal Justice System
Racial Equity in Wealth and Ownership
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Crystal Ball Question – Legal Value Network Conference
Marlene Gebauer 0:08
Welcome to The Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer,
Greg Lambert 0:15
And I’m Greg Lambert. So Marlene, we took a couple of weeks off, but I promised everyone we are back and we have some great content coming your way over the next couple of weeks.
Marlene Gebauer 0:26
Yeah, you know, it didn’t it didn’t feel like any time off. It was all work related. So as it’s not like it was a it was a break from podcasting, but not a break from everything else. So, but we appreciate everybody’s patience.
Greg Lambert 0:41
Maybe someday this will be our main job.
Marlene Gebauer 0:46
That’d be awesome. Right?
Greg Lambert 0:48
Living the dream.
Marlene Gebauer 0:49
This week, we have Ronda Bazley Moore, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at LexisNexis joining us to discuss a fantastic fellowship program with the 18 HBCU law student fellows. Such a great program where these fellows were asked to find ways to eliminate inequality in the legal system. And that’s no small task.
Greg Lambert 1:07
No, it is not. Well, first up, we have an answer to our crystal ball question from Amanda Norris of integrity on who thinks that the way we hire and use support staff like legal assistants will change significantly over the next three to five years.
Marlene Gebauer 1:25
Yeah, I can’t wait to hear that. We’ll hear from Amanda Norris first and then jump right into our conversation with Ronda Bazley. Moore.
Amanda Norris 1:34
My name is Amanda Norris. I’m with integrity on we’re an alternative legal services provider. And one of the changes that we’re seeing is the legal secretary and legal assistant role is changing. A lot of firms law firms, in particular are not replacing these roles as they phase out to retire. And so they’re turning to alternative legal services providers like integron to do that legal secretary support the document work, the formatting, the timekeeping and the expenses. And so what I think is going to be kind of the biggest or the the new normal in law firms in two to five years is that associates are not going to have direct secretaries, it’s only going to be those partner levels. And that support is really going to shift from a partner to Secretary ratio to a practice group support model where you have, you know, legal assistants and secretaries and paralegals that specialize in practice groups rather than attorney one, two and three.
Greg Lambert 2:39
Is this going to be a virtual type of position? Or do you foresee placing people with within the organization itself?
Amanda Norris 2:47
Right now I see it being virtual. You know, there are people used to having that support face to face. But as we’ve seen throughout the past two years, we don’t need it to deliver the same results. And I think that, you know, being able to source from a wider talent pool, especially, you know, I’m from North Dakota, so we don’t have a lot of legal secretaries report in North Dakota. So I can then come to my clients and say we have this person with really great skills from New York, we’re going to hire them, and you don’t have to pay the New York rate to have that support, but you still get the same quality service.
Greg Lambert 3:28
Amanda, thank you very much.
Amanda Norris 3:29
Greg Lambert 3:32
We’d like to welcome Ronda Bazley Moore, Chief inclusion and diversity officer at LexisNexis to the show. Ronda, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Ronda Bazley Moore 3:41
Thanks so much, Greg. Marlene, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Marlene Gebauer 3:44
Ronda, you recently held the 2022 LexisNexis equity in the law symposium in Washington, DC. We want to talk about that and some of the great work that the LexisNexis African ancestry network and the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation I’ve been doing. But first I want to ask you about your day to day work there at LexisNexis. Can you tell us that mission you have is the chief inclusion and diversity officer at LexisNexis?
Ronda Bazley Moore 4:10
Absolutely, Marlene, yes, I’d start by saying I have the privilege of being the first chief inclusion and diversity officer for LexisNexis legal and professional. And in my capacity, I serve as a member of the company’s executive management team. And I lead the development and implementation of a strategic inclusion and diversity agenda for our company. You know, there’s an African proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone and if you want to go far go together. And I prefer the far over fast and a big part of my role is bringing other leaders and colleagues along on the journey as our organization seeks to become more inclusive and diverse. I do that by leading the organization’s global inclusion and diversity council. That group is made up of senior leaders from across the Oregon ovation. And I also lead a team that is focused on initiatives. And we focus on initiatives related to attracting, retaining, developing and rewarding exceptional talent to ensure our culture is psychologically safe to ensure that our workforce is diverse, and is a place where people feel a strong sense of inclusion, equity and belonging. I think that my role of leading inclusion and diversity is pretty amazing because I get to work at an organization that has a mission of advancing the rule of law. And a big part of my role is ensuring our ind efforts aligned seamlessly with our mission. And I do that through oversight of our global diversity, talent programs, strategic partnerships, awards and recognition, thinking about how we measure our success, as well as oversight of our employee resource groups, which engage over 2100 employees and allies around the world. That’s a lot.
Greg Lambert 6:07
I was wondering, you know, we’re still kind of in that era of global corporations, like LexisNexis, still have a duty to, you know, the bottom line of their shareholders. And I know that dei initiatives and having a role like this created are long overdue. How do you present it in a way that shows that this actually isn’t just something that we should be doing? Because that’s what society is asking us? But rather, how does it affect the bottom line?
Ronda Bazley Moore 6:40
Sure, you know, the business case around inclusion and diversity is absolutely clear. There are a number of studies that indicate that organizations that are more inclusive and diverse or more innovative, they’re better at meeting the needs of their customers, they’re better at attracting and retaining the best talent. And I know for me and my role, it has absolutely been a key enabler in unleashing innovation in our organization, it has been a key enabler in building higher performing teams, which of course leads to stronger business results.
Greg Lambert 7:18
But that ties in nicely then with the symposium. So the symposium centered around the work that 18 students from the HBCUs Law School consortium, recently completed as part of your prestigious fellowship program, where they were tasked with eliminating systemic racism from the legal system, so no easy tasks there. And the fellows received a $10,000 grant to research and provide real world solutions to problems entangled in the fabric of society. So you know, that again, huge mission, what motivated LexisNexis in creating this fellowship?
Ronda Bazley Moore 8:01
You know, I’ll go back to what I said earlier, which is, my role is unique, and I think other chief inclusion and diversity officers because I work for an organization that is committed, and has a mission of advancing the rule of law. And the fellowship that you mentioned, our LexisNexis African ancestry network, and LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation Fellowship, is an extension of our organization’s commitment to advancing the rule of law. It began as we as an organization, consider how we can use our resources, how we might use our own influence and platform to address inequity in the legal system as well as build a culture of inclusion and diversity within our organization. And the program is a result of really innovative thinking and collaboration between our African ancestry network employee resource group, as well as our LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation. Around two years ago, we created the fellowship in partnership with historically black colleges and universities Law School Consortium. So there are six of those around the country, six HBCUs around the country that have law schools, associated Those include, see Florida agricultural and mechanical University College of Law, Howard University School of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Southern University Law Center, Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and the University of the District of Columbia, David Aycock School of Law, so six of them. We’ve also engaged the National Bar Association, which is the largest Association of Black legal professionals in the world. And that partnership has really come together nicely to invest and what we consider talented individuals who we believe will be the future leaders in in the legal industry,
Marlene Gebauer 10:01
so I’m really excited to hear about the fellowship experience and and what the participants experience through the program and how they feel about it.
Ronda Bazley Moore 10:12
Absolutely. So the partnership, as I mentioned before, is an extraordinary experience. And I think you rightly called it a prestigious experience. Each fellow does receive a $10,000 financial award as a participant in the program, and they receive so much more. We invest in our fellows development, we provide them with mentors, who really helped shape the development of our fellows. By providing them with mentorship and development around technology analytic and leadership skills. Our fellows received networking opportunities, and bi weekly development sessions on a number of topics ranging from resilience to data visualization. They also receive exposure to leaders, including our CEO and other members of our executive leadership team. And earlier this year, our fellows participated in an innovation retreat and summit at our Raleigh Technology Center to learn more about our LexisNexis products and technology, and how they might be used to really support their vision of how to address inequity in the legal system. And a key part of the fellowship is that they engage with colleagues across LexisNexis, who assist with data collection, sharing their networks and subject matter advice. And a real differentiator for this fellowship opportunity is that all of them emerge as true legal scholars and are published authors as a part of the experience.
Greg Lambert 11:49
One of the things that really caught my eye when reading through the the report, which we’ll we’ll put links on in the show notes, is that they did get mentorship, how did you assign them to mentors, and from what I’m reading from the mentor statement, it almost seems like the mentors had as much enjoyment in the whole process as as the fellows did.
Ronda Bazley Moore 12:13
A part of our secret sauce of this program is ensuring that we have high levels of engagement across the organization. The mentor role is a great example of that. Mentors meet with the fellows regularly. And they connect the fellows to resources within the organization to help move their projects along. They become in many ways project managers, friends, confidants and overall support for the fellow as they are moving through the project. You know, our fellows are really dynamic and talented individuals. Some of them are non traditional law school students attending at night, also working full time jobs, several of them are parents. And some of them have other obligations, such as being leaders and student organizations on campus and engaging in a number of different ways. And the mentors work to help the fellows manage all of that and be successful in the fellowship. One of the most meaningful components of our recent symposium event is the awards luncheon, where each of our mentors kind of do an honorary tribute to their fellows and share stories about how the relationship has impacted them. And I heard my colleagues, people who were at the VP level of our organization, say that they learned more from the fellowship, and maybe they were able to cheer with or teach the pelo and their involvement in this program is one of the reasons that they are so proud to work for LexisNexis. And as I mentioned before, this program had a dual purpose, it was absolutely about addressing issues within the legal system that result in unfair treatment of people in our legal system, but it was absolutely also about driving a culture of more inclusion and diversity for LexisNexis.
Greg Lambert 14:28
Now, the actual program itself, you set this, there were 18 fellows, but they’re really kind of six clusters and it almost kind of follows beginning to end in the legal legal process. So pipeline into then into law school, post law school as the as the profession and then looking at the legal system itself, diversity in the court system, equity in the judicial system, and then I think the you know, kind of right Apple wrap it up, I thought it was really good talking about kind of the long range when it comes to racial equality when it comes to wealth and then ownership so that being able to move things along. So I know that was kind of a long introduction. But can you tell us a little bit about some of the ideas just so you know, one or two of the ideas that came out of the 2022 cohorts? For the fellowship?
Ronda Bazley Moore 15:27
Yeah, thank you for calling that out. You know, the issue of systemic racism or inequity in the legal system is complex. And we knew that to be effective in addressing the topic, we need it to be systemic in our thinking. And so we use what we call a cluster model, as you aptly stated, and there are six clusters that the projects really center around from the 18th fellows. The first is equity for youth in the legal system. And there we look at what some of the initial interactions with the legal system might be. And so for example, we had a project around the school to prison pipeline, and how that might impact the overall diversity of individuals in the legal profession and how we can intervene in in situations that stem from discipline in the school leading into juvenile delinquency, to drive a more positive outcome. Our second cluster is around diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal education. And here we talk about how we can have more inclusive content around the law school experience, as well as how we can support students getting to and through law school, which can be especially challenging for students who were from marginalized communities, and then diversity in leadership of legal profession. This is all about how do we address the fact that we’ve seen very little growth of diverse especially black women attorneys, I think fewer than 1% of partners and law firms are black women. And so we have several projects that looked at how we can grow diversity of leaders in the legal profession, either through entrepreneurial efforts, as well as ensuring that we’ve got great leadership development for individuals emerging as leaders in the leadership profession, diversity and equity in the courts is the fourth cluster and we look at having more accessibility in the court system, as well as thinking about clerkship programs and how to get more diverse talent on the bench equity in criminal in the criminal justice system, was also a great topic, where we look at fair treatment of individuals going through the criminal justice system, and then racial equity, and wealth and ownership. How do we ensure that the intellectual property or real estate property of individuals is protected through legal processes.
Marlene Gebauer 18:25
So thank you Ronda, for sharing the information about all those clusters. It sounds like they’re really meaty projects, and you have your your work cut out for you. So what’s next for the program?
Ronda Bazley Moore 18:37
They are MIDI projects. We’re addressing the issues that have been challenges for our nation since its founding, right. And we intend to be in this for the time that it takes to address many of these issues. And we’re able to do that through a strong partnership with our LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation. And so there are a couple of things that we’re doing. One is amplifying the voices of our fellows. So ensuring that through their publication or through engagement at conferences or associations or even within their firms, on their college campuses, they can speak out about these issues, they now have a platform to do that and engage other people in problem solving. Several of our fellows have worked with our technologist or UX designers or product managers to develop prototypes of various solutions that can help dress some of the issues of systemic racism in the legal system and we will continue to mature those items that are feasible for us and there are some projects that we’re going to embed into some of the partnerships that we have, for example, with the National Bar Association. And so we’re really looking at a multifaceted approach to think about how we can take these projects and ensure that they’re sustained in the long term.
Greg Lambert 20:19
I know that there was one of the fellows that actually, and there may have been more, but I know specifically, that was it. Alexis McNeil, let me make sure that that name, right, had kind of put the stress that Lexis could help with this by creating an actual historical database of relevant historical cases that dealt with the black community. And so I mean, it was kind of interesting to see that it wasn’t just kind of a, you know, an idea, but rather, some concrete results ever coming out and saying, If Lexis did this, this could help with the history of the community. And so it was really interesting to see that,
Ronda Bazley Moore 21:06
oh, I couldn’t agree more. And there were several projects, where the use of our products and our technology could absolutely make a difference in addressing the issue that our fellows have uncovered and researched. And again, in many of these, we’ve built out prototypes. We’ve enhanced resources that we already have, whether it be providing information through our practical guidance, content, or providing content to be used in student clinics, that are implemented through law schools. And we’re really proud LexisNexis is really proud to really think about how our products and technology can make a real difference in addressing the issues that we know result in equitable treatment of individuals in our legal system.
Greg Lambert 22:03
I know this was the second year of the cohorts is their third year planned? And are you working with partners to bring in more partners for it?
Ronda Bazley Moore 22:13
Thank you for that, yes, a third year is planned. And we are already planning and thinking about how we will recruit those fellows and how we will even elevate the fellowship experience, as well as the impact of our fellows. And we look forward to sharing details of of that shortly.
Greg Lambert 22:37
Great. Well, I can tell you, as someone who’s read some of it, not all of it yet, but I think this just proves that when you have people come in, who have different backgrounds, different life experiences, you can look at the same data and come up with new and interesting ways of presenting that information that may affect issues or people in ways that may not have thought of before. So well done, well done.
Ronda Bazley Moore 23:07
Thank you very much. You know, Greg life experiences matter. And I am grateful to the fellows this next generation of legal scholars who have come into LexisNexis, and shared with us their vision of how we can help shape a more just world and who have partnered with us over the past nine months, by sharing their personal stories, many of these projects were inspired through personal experiences, lived experiences of these fellows. And I’m equally proud of the colleagues who have learned from these fellows and who have really leaned into the very uncomfortable, hard truths about inequity in our legal system. But most importantly, together, these fellows and our colleagues have thought, what can we do about it? How do we use the influence? How do we use the resources that we have to truly make a difference? How do we become better allies? Right? And that’s exactly what this fellowship has been about. And I’m sure as you continue reading our publication, and as you follow, what I know, will be the incredible career paths of these fellows. I think we’ll all be inspired by the difference that will happen as a result of their vision, and as a result of LexisNexis coming to the table to help that vision really become a reality.
Marlene Gebauer 24:45
So Rhonda, we ask all of our guests, our crystal ball question, what do you see as a change or challenge in the legal industry over the next three to five years?
Ronda Bazley Moore 24:54
I’ll tell you this, because of the great work that I’ve been able to do Through this fellowship and because of the commitment that my more than 10,000 colleagues across the world at LexisNexis have to advancing the rule of law, I am encouraged, I’m really inspired to believe that we will see a legal industry that has more commitment to advancing the rule of law, I am encouraged that we will see a more diverse legal industry that we will see more leaders really growing their career in the legal industry facing fewer barriers that should have never mattered in the first place. And that comes from personal commitment and choices that are being made today. And LexisNexis is doing the work to provide our customers with the information they need to really make those decisions and to bring in great talent and to provide that talent with the information they need to perform. Well. I’m really honored that I get to be a part of that. All right,
Greg Lambert 26:08
well, thank you Ronda. Bazley Moore, Chief inclusion and diversity officer at LexisNexis. Want to thank you very much for taking the time to join us on the show. And we’ll make sure that we put links out to the program and more information on the show notes. So Ronda, thanks again.
Ronda Bazley Moore 26:26
It’s been my pleasure. Thank you, Greg. Thank you, Marlene.
Greg Lambert 26:31
Well, I have to say that the mission of this fellowship program, where they were tasked with the elimination of systemic racism in the legal system, has got to be one of the largest processes I’ve ever seen. Yes, exactly. Exactly. That is a big, hairy, audacious goal right there. And you gotta appreciate Rhonda and her team for taking this on. If the program kind of sounds familiar, it’s because we had Ian McDougal was on the show a couple of years ago, and was talking about some of the big missions they had on a global scale, reducing inequality across the world.
Marlene Gebauer 27:14
Exactly, exactly. Well, it’s nice to see that he is also playing it forward. So yeah, that’s terrific.
Greg Lambert 27:21
Yep. So thanks again to Ronda Bazley. Moore, Chief inclusion and diversity officer at LexisNexis for taking the time to join us today.
Marlene Gebauer 27:30
And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter,
Greg Lambert 27:43
And I can be reached @glambert on Twitter, at least at least for the time being.
Marlene Gebauer 27:51
If you don’t want to do anything on Twitter, you can leave us a voicemail on our new geek and review Hotline at 713-487-7821 go old school.
Greg Lambert 28:01
Everything old is new again. That’s right.
Marlene Gebauer 28:04
And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 28:08
Thanks, Jerry. All right, Marlene, I will talk to you later.
Okay, Ciao for now