At Morgan Lewis, we know the pursuit of a truly diverse and inclusive organization is as much about the journey as it is the destination. That’s where people like Jennifer Carriòn, diversity recruiting manager, play a key role in setting the firm on the right path. Here, she talks about what prepared her for this role and what equality really means to her.
What is your role at Morgan Lewis?
I like to think I have one of the most rewarding jobs at Morgan Lewis. My official role is working with the US lawyer recruiting team on the overall planning, management, and administration of diverse law student and lateral non-partner lawyer recruiting, integration, and development. Very few firms have recruiting roles dedicated exclusively to diversity so I feel incredibly lucky to do this work.
How did your career path prepare you for this role?
I have worked in legal recruiting for the last 15 years and despite not having diversity as an official responsibility, have always gravitated towards identifying fractures in diversity recruiting specifically and ways to remedy them. Diversity has always been a passion of mine and having the background in recruiting is essential to really move the needle forward in this particular space.
Why is diversity and inclusion important to the firm, and to a larger extent, the legal industry?
As our Chair Jami McKeon has said, diverse teams are stronger and more creative. Studies have shown that diverse teams are more successful. Diversity is also important to our clients. Ultimately, regardless of industry, diverse teams are winning teams.
How do you define equality?
I define equality as a leveling of the playing field. As much as I love my job and the work that I do, I’ll know we have reached true equality when roles like mine are no longer necessary. When I think of equality, I think of this quote by Kwame Nkrumah, “Those who would judge us merely by the heights we have achieved would do well to remember the depths from which we started.”
We hear a lot about the importance of having a mentor or a role model for diverse lawyers, do you have one?
My role model for D&I work in the legal industry and beyond is Vernā Myers, who is now the VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix. Prior to joining Netflix, Vernā founded a D&I consulting firm and I’ve had the benefit of hearing her speak a few times. Vernā coined the phrase, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” which sums up D&I work perfectly.
What’s one thing about your life that would surprise people?
One thing that often surprises people is that my first language was Spanish! My family is originally from the Dominican Republic and we weren’t allowed to speak English at home. I attended a bilingual school for elementary and middle school, where I also learned how to read and write Spanish.