Smith Anderson has named firm employment law attorney Taylor Dewberry as its first Chief Diversity Officer.
In this role, Taylor ‑ in tandem with the firm’s Management and D&I Committees - will help create and implement Smith Anderson’s D&I programs, policies and forward-thinking strategic plans. That includes recruiting and retaining LGBTQIA+, female, disabled and racial minorities in attorney and staff positions; driving programming for our diverse attorneys mentor program; supporting diverse lawyers in all aspects of professional development, including moving into leadership roles at the firm; helping lead the charge as the firm takes public stands against racial injustice; and, most importantly, continuously striving for ways to advance the firm’s D&I vision, mission and programming.
"Taylor is an astute lawyer with a wonderful legal mind who not only knows the intricacies surrounding D&I, but also has the heart to implement our initiatives - in other words, she ‘Gets It,’” said partner Kerry Shad, co-chair of Smith Anderson’s D&I Committee.
“For us, diversity is not just ‘Everyone is different from me,’ – we want to make the people with varying backgrounds and experiences feel included and able to be their authentic selves at Smith Anderson,” Taylor said. “I’m honored to take this role and excited to help lead our efforts to the next level.”
The addition of the Chief Diversity Officer role at Smith Anderson is just one part of the firm’s comprehensive D&I plan. Additionally, D&I is also a key pillar of the firm’s Strategic Plan - Smith Anderson’s leadership is not only behind it, but is passionate about it. The plan isn’t just about supporting D&I within the firm; it extends to elevating future diverse attorneys and community organizations that serve underrepresented groups. A few more examples of the strides that the firm has made over the past 10 months include:
- We introduced our Excellence in Diversity 1L Fellowship program for first-year law school students who have demonstrated their commitment to diversity and inclusion and are interested in practicing law in the Triangle. The fellowship gives law students the opportunity to participate in our summer associate program for up to two summers, with the prospect of a full-time associate position after graduation. The program combines a traditional law firm summer associate experience with working at an in-house corporate law department of a firm client.
- We joined the 2021-2023 Midsize Law Firm class of the Mansfield Rule, a move that will empower the firm’s efforts to recruit, retain and promote an even more diverse team of attorneys and staff. Upon successful completion of the program, Smith Anderson will be designated as “Mansfield Certified” which allows the firm the opportunity to send diverse partners to the Mansfield Rule Client Forums to build relationships with and learn from Diversity Lab’s in-house counsel collaborators.
- Wake County Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (“DEI”) Committee awarded Smith Anderson its inaugural Equity Champion Award. The Bar Association chose Smith Anderson based on selection criteria requiring that the award recipient is a catalyst for change regarding diversity and inclusion in the legal field and leads and motivates others by demonstrating visionary thinking in advancing diversity, as well as builds meaningful partnerships with community organizations that have a significant impact on equity and inclusion.
- North Carolina Lawyers Weekly and South Carolina Lawyers Weekly presented Smith Anderson with a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) award. The award honors law firms, individuals and organizations that are committed to diversity in the workplace, the legal profession and the community at large. Honorees exemplify how law firms can take their aspirations for a more diverse workforce and translate that into tangible, effective steps.
Taylor will continue practicing law at Smith Anderson, where she is a member of the firm’s Employment, Labor and Human Resources group and focuses her practice on employment-related counseling and defending employers against claims involving discrimination, wrongful discharge, retaliation, harassment and civil rights claims. She has represented clients in state and federal courts and agencies throughout North Carolina.