- The ABA says increasing diversity will benefit the quality of service and results firms deliver
- Gayle Littleton and Erin Schrantz are now co-chairs of the investigations, compliance, and defense practice
- Kali Bracey and Kate T. Spelman became co-chairs of the consumer law practice
- Carissa Coze launches a sports and gaming practice
Businesses are navigating a new normal spawned by the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean progress gets moved to the back burner. As with their corporate counterparts, law firm management throughout the country has investigated the data around diversity. They need to become more diverse and, by and large, have started to make necessary moves. This can be seen in a 2019 study by the National Association of Law Placement (NALP), which shows that each year since 2011 there have been slight increases in the representation of minority associates and, in 2018, there was a net increase in women in law firms, which beat a previous high achieved in 2009. While these achievements are good indicators of change, there is still more progress to be made. After all, the American Bar Association shows that increasing diversity at firms will benefit the quality of service and results law firms deliver because:
- Diverse firms and attorneys bring different perspectives, experiences, and opinions to identifying, addressing, and resolving legal issues
- Teams with diverse members often are compelled to be more innovative, creative and collaborative than teams with members that share similar backgrounds
- Diversification encourages team members to consider factors and issues that they might otherwise overlook, undervalue, or dismiss
It makes sense then, that Chicago-based Jenner & Block LLP just promoted five women to practice leadership just this month. Not only will this type of trailblazing help to increase the representation of women at the firm, but the newly promoted attorneys are also now in position to empower other women to follow what they did.
Partners Gayle E. Littleton and Erin R. Schrantz now serve as co-chairs of Jenner’s investigations, compliance, and defense practice alongside Anthony S. Barkow, Christine Braamskamp and Andrew Weissmann. Partners Kali Bracey and Kate T. Spelman now serve as co-chairs of the consumer law practice. In addition, Bracy is also now co-chair of the firm’s state enforcement and regulation practice. Carissa Coze, already serving as a co-chair for the firm’s corporate practice, is launching a sports and gaming practice.
Having served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and in the Northern District of Florida, Littleton is highly experienced litigator in the white-collar practice recognized by Chambers USA and the Legal 500. Her work includes matters in anti-corruption (FCPA), fraud, and regulatory compliance. Internally, Littleton is also a leader for diversity initiatives, serving as co-chair for the firm’s Women’s Forum Steering Committee.
Schrantz is also experienced in developing compliance programs and cultural reforms. She is highly regarded in professional development, having been awarded the Mentor Award from the firm’s Associates Committee and is an active member of Women Employed, nonprofit. As a litigator, Schrantz was previously co-chair of the Criminal Litigation Committee for the American Bar Association. Some of her recognitions include the Global Investigations Review top “Women in Investigations” in 2018, The National Law Journal, and the Illinois Super Lawyers for business litigation.
Bracey leadership role is of no surprise, as she is experienced in consumer law and regulatory compliance, after having served as senior counsel for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the torts branch of the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil division overseeing environmental torts, constitutional and specialized torts, aviation and admiralty, and the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Spelman is an experienced litigator in consumer class actions and the firm’s food and beverage industry group. Within the firm, Spelman is a leader for the firm’s pro bono practice, managing such cases in civil rights litigation and immigration. Spelman awards include the “Rising Star,” in Business Litigation in the Southern California Super Lawyers and in the Legal 500 for General Commercial Disputes.
Coze’s new sports and gaming practice is set to formalize the firm’s expertise in sports, betting, and gaming practices. Coze is poised to take this practice to new heights as an experienced corporate attorney and an expert in sports and entertainment. She was a member for the Law360, Media and Entertainment’ Editorial Advisory Board and is active in the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. The sports and gaming practice will work alongside other existing practice areas, including the firm’s litigation, regulatory, Native American, and technology practices.
These appointments advance Jenner & Block’s existing commitment to diversity and inclusion. At the start of the year, the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) awarded Jenner & Block its 2020 Gold Standard Certification. Furthermore, the firm recently released its EQUAL TIME Report for 2020, highlighting the firm’s efforts to further diversity and inclusion. Bracey, Coze, Littleton, Schrantz and Spelman showcase a wealth of expertise and leadership experiences working with their local community and providing pro bono and public services as well.
David Yang contributed to this report.