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IT’S NOT EASY BEING A DIVERSITY OFFICER. In addition to typical pressures inherent in law fi rm work, being a change agent presents its own unique set of challenges. What’s more, there’s a constant reminder that despite positive gains there is still so much more that needs to be accomplished. Having access to a network of professionals involved in


similar situations is critical. Enter the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (ALFDP), an organization comprised of 100 individual diversity offi cers representing about 85 law fi rms. ALFDP, which is based in New York, serves as a resource to support individuals in charge of implementing a law fi rm’s diversity program and acts as a catalyst for the advancement of diversity in the legal profes- sion through the collective knowledge, vision, expertise, and advocacy of its members. “T e nature

of these jobs are so demanding,” explains T eresa Cropper, chief diversity offi cer at Perkins Coie LLP, and the founder of ALFDP. “In our work, the measurements are profound but the movement is long term. You constantly look at how much you have to do. It’s helpful to talk to others who are at further stages.” Cropper says that members turn to one another for



of companies and the reality of the world getting smaller and fi rms getting larger.” T e role of the diversity offi cer— to support and lead an organization in all matters relating to diversity—became more important and the number of roles increased.1 Cropper refers to the organization’s beginnings, as well


as its ongoing growth, as a “movement” rather than a single event. “Back then we had no idea who we were. T ings were happening at a really quick pace,” she says. It became clear that combining their collective insights and experiences would be benefi cial, and creating a professional association would be a smart long-term investment. “We realized that we could not—and should not—do this on our own. Our goals were to come together and educate and encourage each other, and to study our- selves to make sure we had all the information we needed. “Now that

it’s here,”

Cropper adds, “it has comfortably found its spot, and it’s fi lling a void and supporting eff orts that so many organiza- tions care about.”

collective commiseration, optimism, support, cheerlead- ing, and advice. T e group meets twice a year, and there is ongoing discussion throughout the year through the organization’s vibrant listserv, where individuals share and discuss common issues such as best practices, structuring of diversity committees, program ideas, new laws and policies, and upcoming events via email.

THEN AND NOW ALFDP fi lls a niche that was barely on the radar when it was founded in 2006. At the time, Cropper says, there were only about a dozen diversity offi cers in the country. “T en it started exploding. It was an amazing convergence


PRIMARY INITIATIVES One of the organization’s primary initiatives is to educate its members. T is begins with new diversity offi cers: ALFDP exposes them to best practices and facilitates access to experts in the fi eld. A key element is keeping senior mem- bers engaged in this informational and educational process. A second initiative focuses on disseminating information

to the legal community. “We partner with organizations like MCCA to survey the legal profession and see who we are and what we’re doing,” Cropper explains, noting that such information helps ALFDP advise law fi rms about the creation and direction of professional diversity positions. A new item on the agenda is the development of a diver- sity professional certifi cation. T e goal of this initiative is to


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