By Richard E. Meade, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer – International, Prudential Financial, Inc.
Prudential General Counsel Susan Blount has created a culture within the Law, Compliance, Business Ethics & External Affairs Department (LCBE) that makes commitment to diversity and inclusion in our department and in the legal profession a core value.
LCBE actively works with and supports local and national diverse bar associations, provides a talent pipeline to create opportunities for diverse students and recent law school graduates, nurtures an inclusive atmosphere within LCBE through our Diversity Council, and our expenditures on outside law firms are tied to diversity goals. I have had the privilege to help design and lead this array of programs for our Department since 2006.
Prudential is a founding member of the Inclusion Initiative, a collaborative effort by corporate law departments at Fortune 500 companies representing a wide crosssection of industries. Participating companies commit to multimillion dollar annual goals for legal spend with minority- and women-owned law firms. In the first three years of the program, the participating companies have spent over $330 million on minority and women owned law firms.
Each year, our Department hires a large class of diverse first-year law students into a summer intern program. The program provides them with attorney mentors, relevant training, and work experience involving various legal specialties, and mock interviews. These students come from the Minority Student Program at Rutgers University School of Law, the diversity program managed by the Bar Association of the City of New York, the ABA Commission on Disabilities, and many of the diverse bar associations with which we work. In addition, after the economic downturn in 2008 reduced the number of jobs available for qualified new law school graduates, we launched the Prudential Law Fellows Program to provide eighteen-month fellowships to recent law school graduates from diverse backgrounds.