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The commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Adams and Reese is not simply about doing the right thing. It is also integral to demonstrating daily our firm’s core values of providing excellence in client service, understanding who our clients are and what drives them, striving for outstanding results, and developing relationships based on trust. We believe these values, generally held by our clients as well in their own contexts, are actually enabled by a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI is about understanding and appreciating differences and then focusing our relationships on our common core values as humans.

We invest in our people, helping all individuals truly succeed at our law firm because doing so makes us a better firm, better equipped to meet the needs of today’s clients, and reflect not only who they are, but who our own communities are. Our commitment to DEI means we will never be narrow of focus or restricted to limited points of view. It also means each person at Adams and Reese knows they can succeed here. We believe all our people should be given every opportunity to do substantive work and advance their careers based on their unique backgrounds and their personal and professional aspirations. That belief helps us obtain, promote, and retain the best talent.

We believe that while diversity is often thought of in somewhat narrow terms – sometimes based on statutory language – diversity includes more than just women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals; it also includes all races, ethnicities, genders, generations, working parents, and more. The reality is a diverse team of professionals, considered broadly, providing their perspectives on a client matter can’t help but enhance the counsel and representation we provide as we work to advance our client’s interests. Our clients clearly understand and value this.

What General Counsel Expect
Today’s general counsel and other legal executives recognize that outside attorneys who reflect the diversity of their own organizations are more seamlessly integrated into teams that tackle the variety of legal and business tasks and challenges they face daily. This approach ensures that selected outside counsel have the requisite experience, skills, and client service focus to achieve the best outcomes and results. At Adams and Reese, we not only applaud the commitment of these GCs and others, but we are also ready to meet the challenge because it is fully aligned with our own aspirations.

Because they understand so well the importance of diversity in outside counsel, the general counsel of some of America’s largest and most prestigious corporations have become signatories to various letters and manifestos sent to law firms. An “Open Letter to Law Firm Partners,” signed by more than 170 corporate general counsel and chief legal officers, concludes with, “We, as a group, will direct our substantial outside counsel spend to those law firms that manifest results with respect to diversity and inclusion, in addition to providing the highest degree of quality representation” Another “Call to Action” by hundreds of general counsel states, “…we pledge that we will make decisions regarding which law firms represent our companies based in significant part on the diversity performance of the firms.”

Ensuring that they are taken seriously regarding their DEI requirements of outside law firms, RFPs delivered to law firms often demand very specific responses to DEI-related queries.

Staffing Matters at Adams and Reese
When assembling a team for a client matter, diversity, whether required by an RFP or not, is always a key consideration and helps ensure that not only are the right experience, skill, and efficiency dedicated to each engagement (a given), but also that a variety of perspectives are brought to bear – all to the end of producing the optimal outcome for everyone involved.

We Walk the Talk
At Adams and Reese, we don’t pay lip service to DEI. While some firms may talk a good game, we’ve been busy since the 1980s, when we first formed our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Since then, we have been constantly evaluating what we are doing to ensure that our efforts align with what our colleagues and clients value, want, and need; and with the firm’s strategic plan and our “people first” philosophy. Over the decades, we have put in place programs that actively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion by striving to advance talented attorneys into firm leadership roles, by inclusively recruiting new lawyers and lateral hires from diverse populations, and by supporting and encouraging diverse populations of law students and younger students to consider careers in law.

We Are a Mansfield Rule Certified Law Firm
Mansfield 2022-2023Adams and Reese is proud to have achieved the 2022-2023 Mansfield Certification. This is our law firm's second consecutive year to be recognized for meeting the national standard of widening the leadership talent pool by increasing inclusivity and diversity in leadership.

The certification reflects not only our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, but recognizes our concrete achievements in closing diversity gaps within its own leadership and, by extension, in the legal profession.

Mansfield Certification, awarded by Diversity Lab, measures the structural changes and steps that law firms have taken to ensure paths to leadership are open and transparent to their lawyers. Law firms must complete a year-long process, reporting their data and system processes in place to demonstrate they have considered all qualified talent for leadership roles. The requirement includes at least 30% historically underrepresented lawyers to be considered. Certification means that Adams and Reese has met these goals.

The Mansfield Certification adds to several honors that Adams and Reese has received in 2023 for its DEI results. Adams and Reese was one of two law firms in the Southeast honored with the ALM "Diversity Initiative" Award. In addition, Adams and Reese earned the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Approved SILVER Seal, recognizing law firms for establishing sustainable DEI strategies and achieving actionable solutions.

Our Managing Partner, Gif Thornton, and DEI Committee Chair, Clarence Wilbon, discuss the importance of our Mansfield Certification and what it means for our people and our clients

Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD)

Leadership Council on Legal Diversity

Adams and Reese is a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), an organization of more than 400 corporate chief legal officers and general counsel of major corporations or Managing Partners of the nation’s leading law firms. Founded in 2009, LCLD requires all of its leaders to make a “pledge” on its website to advance DEI efforts and uphold a commitment to lead by example, take action, and challenge their fellow colleagues to prepare future generations of diverse talent for the highest professions of leadership. Throughout the year, LCLD hosts action programs, such as Pathfinders and Fellows, to inspire, nurture, and develop the diverse talent within member organizations, advancing a more diverse generation of attorneys to positions of leadership.

Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)

Adams and Reese is a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), a networking advisory coalition of more than 250 law firms and corporations advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, by championing the hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse attorneys. MCCA was founded in 1997 and has funded scholarships for beginning lawyers, coached executives further along in their careers, and published industry-leading demographic information to spearhead accountable change in corporate America. Through thought leadership, professional development programs, MCCA empowers partners, members, and leading attorneys at law firms and corporation’s GC departments to have opportunities for advancement. Several longstanding MCCA initiatives include the MCCA Diversity Scorecard, Fortune 1000 General Counsel Survey, and Law Firm Diversity Database.

In 2023, Adams and Reese earned the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) Approved SILVER Seal. This prestigious accreditation is bestowed upon law firms and corporate legal departments as a national framework for successfully establishing sustainable diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and achieving actionable solutions.

Clarence Wilbon

Clarence Wilbon
Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Adams and Reese has been listed among the Top 200 Law Firms in Diversity on the American Lawyer Media Diversity Scorecard since 2008.