Lynnette D. Espy-Williams

Lynnette D. Espy-Williams
Member and Chief Diversity Officer

Cozen O’Connor
Headquarters: Philadelphia, PA
Business: Legal Services

“Cozen O’Connor does not need convincing—as a firm and as individuals, we recognize the moral and business imperatives to building a much more diverse legal workforce. Cozen O’Connor is now one of a handful of Am Law-ranked firms with a full-time partner-level chief diversity officer, as well as a shareholder-led Women’s Initiative— both of which have budgets commensurate with the importance of their missions,” says Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Heller. “These efforts are already reaping rewards. Cozen O’Connor is making notable progress with attracting, retaining, and advancing female and minority attorneys. Of course, we still have a long way to go. Moving forward, we are committed to prioritizing diversity when it comes to bringing in new attorneys, divvying up assignments and opportunities, and promoting people to positions of authority within the firm.”

In 2018, Cozen O’Connor hired the firm’s first diversity data analyst to track diversity metrics, analyze data, report statistics, and develop a data-driven affirmative action plan. The practice also operated a new 1L Diversity Fellowship for first-year law students from underrepresented groups, increased the resources available to the firm’s attorney resource groups, and added an LGBTQ staff resource group.

The firm also appointed its first chief diversity officer, Lynnette D. Espy-Williams. She has set a number of ambitious goals for 2019, including these:

  • Host a firm-wide Diverse Attorney Retreat in Philadelphia in February. All self-identified diverse attorneys, Diversity Committee members, and firm management will convene for a two-day conference to facilitate dialogue and reinforce the importance of diversity and inclusion.
  • Develop a formalized mentoring and training program that will serve the firm’s diverse attorneys, since diverse attorneys oftentimes find it difficult to independently identify a sponsor and/or mentor.
  • Implement the Mansfield Rule, which requires that 30 percent of candidates for leadership roles, equity partner promotion, or senior lateral positions be women or minorities. This serves the broader goal of ensuring that significantly more leadership and shareholder positions are held by diverse attorneys.
  • Explore development of a diverse supplier program to encourage the hiring of businesses owned and operated by women, minorities, LGBTQ, veterans, and disabled persons.