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Lawyer’s Lantern


Dear Lawyer’s Lantern: 14

I am a White male partner at a law firm. I am not sure how to advise an Asian American male senior associate on my team. He has expressed to me that he had been feeling pressure, when inter- acting with some other partners in the firm, to be a little different than the per- son he is. He has indicated that he has felt compelled to conform to our firm’s culture in a way that has felt inauthentic. He expressed that he even works to make some of our colleagues feel more comfortable about the discomfort they seem to have about his and their differ- ences. Despite these challenges, he is interested in becoming a partner of the firm and has asked me for some advice about whether he has to keep up these efforts in order to advance. I think he is an excellent lawyer, a leader, and would be tremendously valuable to our part- nership. However, not having his back- ground and experience, I am not sure what to tell him and how to help him.

Sincerely, Old year, old ways. New year, new ways!



ear Old year, old ways. New Year, new ways!:

Welcome to 2012! It is the beginning of the year, and your letter is a great opportunity for us to talk about how to throw away the old and inef- fective habits of the past and to start with a new and fresh perspective for the present. T is is also a wonderful question about

mentoring across diff erences, celebrating diff erences, fi ght- ing biases and stereotypes, personally leading on diversity, and encouraging inclusiveness in the workplace. Before I set out telling you what you might say to

this brave young man, let me praise you for creating an environment of inclusiveness and openness on your team! T e fact that your associate felt comfortable pulling the curtain back on a very dark, uncomfortable, unfortunate, and rampant problem in today’s law fi rm—the feeling by some diverse lawyers that they have to assimilate into a fi rm culture not like their own—is noteworthy. You obviously have done your part in making the people who work with you feel comfortable in talking to you about hard issues, and it is clear that you have demonstrated a commitment to valuing the perspectives and contributions of others, which is excellent.


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