Minneapolis (5-24-07): -- The Hennepin County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee has recognized the law firm of Halleland Lewis Nilan & Johnson with the 2007 Diversity Award for a Legal Employer. Also, for the first time, the association has recognized an individual attorney for his contribution to diversity by honoring Charles S. Ferrell with the 2007 Diversity Award for an Individual Attorney.
The award for an employer is given to a legal employer who displays an outstanding commitment to diversity in the legal profession. The awards committee took note of the structure, recruitment, and retention policies, and activities within and outside the firm, Halleland Lewis, Nilan & Johnson, as well as its support for a wide range of diversity-focused programs in the community. The award was presented to the Halleland firm at the annual meeting of the Hennepin County Bar Association on May 24.
In 2005 the firm’s board of directors appointed a Diversity Committee, which has members from all sectors of the firm—staff, paralegals, associates, and shareholders, to coordinate the firm’s diversity efforts and develop a specific plan for achieving the firm’s diversity goals. These goals are “to become an ‘employer of choice’ for those in the legal profession who seek an inclusive workplace offering first-tier career opportunities, a ‘law firm of choice’ among clients who share diversity as a business value, and a ‘leader by example’ in our broader legal, business, and political communities,” according to the firm’s Statement of Policy on Diversity.
“We view our program as an ongoing effort to uphold our commitment to increasing diversity in the legal profession,” said Brian Johnson, president and managing partner of the firm.
Recipient of the individual diversity award, Charles Ferrell is the Diversity Partner for the Faegre & Benson law firm, where he has been a member of the real estate group since 1977. He earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his law degree from the University of Michigan. Ferrell is the main initiator, current co-chair, and treasurer of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, a joint initiative of the major law firms and corporations united to promote concrete diversity efforts. The committee took particular note of Ferrell’s efforts to reach out to local minority organizations such as the Minnesota Black Women Lawyers to offer assistance in promoting activities that bolster their image and development.
“In my opinion,” says Bernice Fields, of the Minnesota Black Women Lawyers, Ferrell’s leadership “has done more to strengthen the tenuous tie between minority attorneys and Minnesota than any initiative by the legal community in my thirty years of practice.”
The mission of the HCBA is to serve the needs of a diverse membership by advancing collegiality, professionalism, ethical conduct, and competence in the legal profession. The association strives to ensure the fairness and accessibility of the legal system by promoting public understanding and confidence in our system of justice and by working along with the courts to improve the administration of justice. The largest of Minnesota's 21 county bar associations, the HCBA serves a membership of 8,000 legal professionals.