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ACC Oregon Hosts Discussion on Advancing Diversity and Inclusion Through the Legal Department

Photo: ACC Oregon chapter members and high school members of Girls Inc. listened to Magali Sosa-Tirado, chief legal officer and general counsel at R.B. Pamplin Corporation, and Christine Uri, chief legal and human resources officer at ENGIE Insight, discuss diversity and inclusion.

O n June 13, the ACC Oregon Chapter and Holland & Knight LLP hosted a panel discussion at the Pearl District headquarters of Zapproved, featuring several women leading in-house legal departments around the Portland metropolitan area, to discuss advancing diversity and inclusion in legal departments.

In addition to over 35 members of the chapter, several high school aged members from the local chapter of Girls Inc. (a nonprofit organization that offers programming to inspire girls ages six to 18 to be strong, smart, and bold) attended the event to learn more about the rewards and challenges of being an in-house attorney.

The panel included Magali Sosa-Tirado, chief legal officer and general counsel at R.B. Pamplin Corporation; Christine Uri, chief legal and human resources officer at ENGIE Insight; and Katie Abbott, senior vice president of legal and people at Puppet. Holland & Knight Partner Shannon Armstrong moderated the panel. Some of the topics covered were:

  • How the legal department can work with their internal business partners to promote diversity in the workplace;
  • Best practice for building a diverse team in the legal department and with outside counsel;
Strategies for combating implicit bias in the profession; and,
  • Advice for the next generation interested in leadership positions in law/business.

The importance of being bold was reiterated throughout the panel discussion and the question and answer session that followed. Puppet's Katie Abbott mentioned that "women often are strong advocates for their clients and others, but sometimes are not for themselves." Magali Sosa-Tirado of R.B. Pamplin Corporation shared how important it is for corporate counsel to step outside of their office: "We had to sell our diverse group of attorneys to a predominantly caucasian company... I encourage the attorneys I hire to mingle as much as possible with the rest of the company."

When the young women from Girls Inc. were asked by a chapter member about how this panel affected them, Sophie, a high school student, said, "When I think about lawyers, they're everywhere — not just at a courthouse. Seeing so many women lawyers inspires me to be the best version of myself." Another student, Sierra, answered, "Stop being scared about being a minority. Be bold and be strong and mingle with everyone else — it will have a ripple effect." We believe it will.

ACC Oregon extends its sincere thanks to Holland & Knight for organizing this impactful CLE, Zapproved for hosting the event at their corporate headquarters, and Girls Inc. for giving all attendees a promising glimpse of the future as a corporate counsel.

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