Diverse as the communities we serve
Wyatt recognizes the benefits of attaining diversity at all levels of our Firm. Wyatt continually seeks to recruit, develop and retain the highest level of legal talent and to promote and develop that talent without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
To that end, Wyatt strives to increase the diversity of its applicant pool by actively recruiting an increased number of qualified candidates to participate in the application process. Wyatt also focuses on the development and retention of its attorneys through efforts such as its formal mentoring program, associate orientation and ongoing training programs.
Diversity Initiatives and Achievements
- Wyatt regular participates in various minority job fairs including the DuPont and Cook County Bar Association minority job fair events.
- Wyatt is a three-time recipient of DuPont’s "Meeting the Challenge" award for our efforts to promote diversity in the legal profession.
- At the 2011 annual Tennessee Bar Association Convention, the Young Lawyers Division recognized Ahsaki Baptist of the Firm’s Memphis office with a special award for her exceptional service as both the Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee and the inaugural Diversity Leadership Institute. The Institute provided leadership training and mentoring for 15 law students from across the state.
- Wyatt has established the "Wyatt Women's Network," to give our female attorneys, clients and referral sources opportunities to meet in relaxed social environments where connections can be made and friendships strengthened. To view photos from a recent "Wyatt Women's Network" event, click here.
- The Firm has received International Paper Company’s Legal Department’s "Lighthouse" award for our efforts in promoting diversity in the legal profession.
- In a past biennial survey of The National Law Journal, Wyatt ranked second in the nation in the employment of women lawyers.
The Wyatt Diversity Committee
Wyatt’s Diversity Committee is comprised of partners and associates representing all of the Firm’s offices. The mission of Wyatt’s Diversity Committee is to ensure the Firm maintains best practices in the recruitment and retention of lawyers so we can meet our goal of having a team of excellent lawyers that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.
The Diversity Committee is chaired by Odell Horton and includes the Firm’s chair of Professional Personnel Recruiting Committee, Jeff Yussman. The other members of the Diversity Committee are: Larry Crawford, Karen Greenwell, Bill Hollander, Carl Horneman, Don Kelly and Sara Veeneman.
Wyatt Pipeline Building Initiatives
Wyatt is actively involved in several initiatives aimed at increasing the number of minorities entering the profession of law:
- Wyatt recently created a $15,000 scholarship for minority law students in honor of our former partner, Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Dr. Hooks was the former Executive Director of the NAACP, and joined Wyatt to assist the Firm’s clients with diversity initiatives. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor in 2007. Dr. Hooks remained a member of our Firm until his passing in early 2010.
- Kevin Hable spearheaded the establishment of the Every 1 Reads program, an initiative aimed at improving reading achievement in the Jefferson County Kentucky Public Schools. This initiative, kicked off in September 2003, contributes to building the local pipeline of minorities entering the profession by focusing on improved achievement from the earliest stages of students’ academic careers. Minority and English as second language students comprise approximately 38% of the student population of the Jefferson County Public School system and thus a large percentage of the program’s beneficiaries.
- Wyatt’s Louisville office participates in a summer internship program for Central High School students. Central High is an historic, inner-city school and is the alma mater of Muhammad Ali and generations of local black leaders. Since the inception of the program, Wyatt has employed over 25 students, many on a full-time basis, for the summer. These students are participants in the Jefferson County Legal/Government Career Magnet Program. The students are assigned an attorney mentor and are included in many different Firm events throughout the summer. In August 2011, second year intern Dwight Haggard expressed his gratitude by stating in the Louisville Bar Association’s Bar Briefs, “It’s not the work I do, it’s the people I meet. It’s like they’re all fighting for me to succeed…whatever I need, they’ll get it for me. They invest in me to do better. I’m so grateful for it.”
Diversity in Leadership
Wyatt prepares and encourages women and minority members of the Firm to assume leadership roles, both inside and outside the Firm, and to attain success as business developers. Some notable examples are:
- Women and minority members actively participate in the management of the Firm, chairing various Firm committees and service teams, including the Professional Personnel Recruiting Committee, Professional Personnel Evaluation Committee and the Bankruptcy & Creditors' Rights, Health Care, Natural Resources & Environmental and Real Estate & Lending service teams, as well as serving as members of the Firm Diversity Committee.
- Lisa DeJaco is Chair of the Board of Directors of Volunteers of America- Kentucky; Emily Lamb is Co-President of the Actors Theatre of Louisville Generation One Board; Ellen Bronaugh Vergos is the appointed Memphis Area Development District Representative for the Tennessee Economic Council on Women; and Mitzi Wyrick is President of the Board of Directors of Dreams with Wings.
- Kelly Henry and Rebecca Schupbach are past presidents of the Women Lawyers Association of Jefferson County.
Wyatt Advocacy and Sponsorship in Support of Diversity:
Wyatt and its attorneys regularly serve as advocates for diversity efforts. We also organize, sponsor and contribute to activities and organizations that promote diversity. Some notable examples are:
- Wyatt is a sponsor of the DuPont Women Lawyers’ Network Business Development Conferences and the Jefferson County Woman Lawyers’ Association Annual Meeting.
- Jimmy Bradshaw is a Director of Kids on the Block of Middle Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to educating elementary school children on, among other things, diversity issues. Wyatt is a regular sponsor of Kids on the Block events and fundraisers.
- Karen Greenwell is involved with The National Conference of Community and Justice, a human relations organization that promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution and education.