Law.com released an article last week featuring the New Year’s Resolutions of top legal professionals nationwide. Many spoke of improving the profession and upholding the Rule of Law in the coming year. Included in the mix was Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy who offered her own resolution.
“I resolve to advance diversity by being more proactive among my colleagues, even when it sometimes feels uncomfortable,” she said.
Related, last year Jayne was featured in MDL Leadership Sees a Crack in Glass Ceiling, a Law360 story about women breaking into the male-dominated world of plaintiffs’ leadership in multidistrict litigation. Jayne currently serves in leadership on multiple high-profile MDLs including on the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee of the Pinnacle MDL.
In her leadership role, Jayne serves as a member of the executive trial team in the bellwether trial process. This past year, she helped secure two staggering verdicts against Johnson & Johnson. The initial $502 million verdict came in March on behalf of 5 plaintiffs injured by DePuy’s metal-on-metal hip implant devices. The second verdict followed in early December at $1.04 billion.
It is imperative to speak up to promote diversity because just touting the benefits has not been nearly enough to change the reality of diversity in the last decade.
While graduation rates from law school for both men and women have remained mostly equal over the preceding decade, the number of women in the legal profession drops to 36 percent(1). Then, the increase in women promoted to senior roles in law firms has also been incremental. In 2015, the National Association of Women Lawyers reported that since 2006, the number of women in equity partnership has increased by only 2 percent, totaling 18 percent(2). These facts support the idea that just citing the benefits of diversity is ineffective.
In her own professional life, Jayne is aware of the steps she can take to promote diversity within the legal profession.
“I often have the privilege of a leadership platform which makes it possible for me to appoint deserving women and attorneys of color to positions of importance in a litigation,” Jayne said.
Because almost all teams are led by men, Jayne points outs, it becomes necessary for the male leaders to speak up and demand diversity as well.
“Attorneys, both male and female, must resolve to speak up to support diversity if we want any sort of meaningful change,” Jayne said. “When I don’t seem them do so, it is my resolution, on behalf of my clients and my colleagues to speak up and persuade them to do so.”
Click here to read more resolutions from leaders in the legal profession.