Maryland Law Alum And Chief Diversity Officer Lynnette Espy-Williams On Honing Your Craft, Finding A Mentor, And Changing Cities

Lynnette D. Espy-Williams

“May you see your goals permitted / Prior to you see them from a cloud.” — Wale

This thirty day period, Cozen O’Connor introduced its appointment of Lynnette D. Espy-Williams as its initially Chief Range Officer.

Espy-Williams has had pretty a job with the company and will most definitely depart a footprint on its variety and inclusion initiatives likely ahead. Following graduating from the College of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2006, Espy-Williams served as a judicial intern to previous Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears of the Supreme Court docket of Ga.

She started out her job at Cozen O’Connor as a contract lawyer, then was promoted to an associate, turned a husband or wife in 2013, and was appointed as a Vice Chair, Place of work Taking care of Associate in 2015. Needless to say, her job improvement has been pretty remarkable.

This week, Lynnette D. Espy-Williams was gracious enough to devote some time with us and share her feelings on relocating from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., advice for individuals just beginning out on their job journeys, and strategies for locating mentors and sponsors in the workplace.

Without even further ado, here is a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation:

Renwei Chung (RC): Congratulations on becoming named Cozen O’Connor’s initially Chief Range Officer. Amongst the quite a few variations, you will be relocating to Washington, D.C. What will you pass up most about Atlanta?

Lynnette D. Espy-Williams (LW): Thank you! There are so quite a few factors that I will pass up about Atlanta! Specially, I will pass up the city’s abundant and diverse lifestyle, the arts scene, as nicely as all of the eating places that I have frequented for so quite a few a long time. I also depart behind a large total of friends and household.

Inspite of leaving behind so quite a few “gems” that make up these types of an extraordinary city, I am so excited that I am capable to return to Washington, D.C., as I went to regulation faculty nearby in Maryland. I am wanting ahead to checking out the city and am grateful to be using on these types of an crucial and sizeable position at Cozen O’Connor.

RC: Can you share with us a minimal bit about your instructional and job track record prior to this new position within the company?

LW: Absolutely! I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and at a pretty early age, I realized that I desired to be a law firm. Following attending Spelman Faculty and the College Of Maryland School of Law, I had the privilege of clerking for the Ga Supreme Court docket beneath Justice Leah Ward Sears, the initially African-American female Chief Justice in the United States and the initially girl and youngest individual to sit on Georgia’s Supreme Court docket.

Shortly following my clerkship, I joined Cozen O’Connor, in December 2006. I have working experience in litigating a broad selection of civil and industrial issues, which includes issues pertaining to qualified legal responsibility, mass and advanced torts, premises legal responsibility, products legal responsibility, and contract disputes. Prior to becoming appointed Chief Range Officer, I served as Vice-Chair, Place of work Taking care of Associate for Cozen O’Connor’s Atlanta business office.

RC: What do you hope to carry out in your new position as Chief Range Officer?

LW: There are so quite a few factors that I want to carry out as Chief Range Officer so I have had to sit down and prioritize all of my ambitions for the approaching yr.

One of my ambitions is to improve the firm’s useful resource teams tailor-made to advertise the accomplishment and inclusion of five self-pinpointing constituencies: (1) Asian Attorney Resource Group (2) Black Attorney Resource Group (3) LGBTQ Attorney Resource Group (4) Hispanic/Latino Attorney Resource Group and (5) Disabled and/or Veteran Attorney Resource Group.

I am also actively included in building a strategic system with respect to variety and inclusion initiatives so that we are thinking proactively as to how we can improve variety not only internally within our company but within the profession.

RC: What advice do you have for regulation college students and young attorneys just commencing their respective occupations?

LW: My advice for a regulation student or young lawyer just commencing their respective occupations is to devote a sizeable total of time honing your competencies.

Always set your greatest foot ahead and routinely look for possibilities to improve your creating, deposition, and general public talking competencies. An additional way to hone your competencies is to make confident you consider on substantive pro bono assignments.

Not only is executing pro bono do the job the correct matter to do, it is also crucial from a qualified growth standpoint as pro bono assignments can from time to time lead you to invaluable experiences like arguing motions in Court docket and deposing witnesses. Without pro bono do the job, you may possibly not get these unique experiences until eventually much later on in your job. Choose gain of the discovering working experience!

RC: You talked about how crucial it is to find a sponsor or mentor early in your job. Do you have any distinct strategies for networking?

LW: It is very crucial to find a mentor and/or sponsor early in your job as a young law firm. When I started out at Cozen O’Connor in 2006, I understood very early on that I necessary a sponsor, somebody who could unilaterally improve the trajectory of my job and guidebook my measures internally.

Supplied I labored out of a regional business office, it was crucial for me to connect with somebody exterior of Atlanta as I realized one particular working day, I desired to be a portion of company management. Supplied my aspirations, one particular working day, I picked up the cellphone and identified as Vincent McGuinness, Cozen O’Connor’s Taking care of Associate, and humbly asked him to provide as my mentor. At initially, he was a bit conversing aback as he had no strategy who I was presented I had just joined the company and was operating out of Atlanta.

Nevertheless, he swiftly agreed to mentor me, and over the a long time, he has ensured that I have obtained substantive assignments, has delivered me with numerous possibilities to lead company-broad committees, and has supported my involvement with numerous bar associations.

I strongly consider that my romantic relationship with Mr. McGuinness, and the quite a few attorneys that have served me alongside the way, ended up vital to my accomplishment. If a young law firm is not able to find a mentor internally, I would recommend that they look externally by using bar associations, local community situations, etc. You hardly ever know in which your subsequent consumer or mentor will appear from!

RC: You stated that your job arc was much a lot more the exception than the rule. What do you suggest by this?

LW: My job at Cozen O’Connor has been great. I have had the possibility to hold a management placement, lead company-broad committees, and have mentors that have poured into my individual and qualified growth. With that reported, I know that my working experience as a diverse female husband or wife in a regulation company is not the exact same working experience that other women and/or diverse attorneys have in their respective corporations.

As a result, I consider my job, and the accomplishment that I have had, to be “the exception” in Biglaw, not the rule. As Chief Range Officer, my obligation is to make confident that it will become the “rule” for diverse attorneys in our company to obtain the exact same possibilities, experiences and accomplishment, and to truly feel a portion of an inclusive do the job ecosystem.

RC: How are you savoring D.C. so considerably?

LW: I am genuinely savoring my time in D.C.! My household and I are obtaining a excellent time assembly new individuals and checking out the city. We not too long ago visited the Countrywide Museum of African American Historical past and Lifestyle which was extraordinary! We also look ahead to encountering DC in the summer. We have listened to excellent factors about different situations and festivals that we would like to examine.

RC: It was excellent chatting with you. Is there nearly anything else you would like to share with our audience?

LW: I just want to thank you for the possibility to talk with you about my new position with Cozen O’Connor.

It genuinely is an honor to provide as Chief Range Officer and to lead these types of a dynamic company. I look ahead to earning my mark in the variety house!

On behalf of every person here at Previously mentioned the Law, I would like to thank Lynnette D. Espy-Williams for using the time to share her tale with our audience. We desire her continued accomplishment in her job.

Renwei Chung is the Range Columnist at Previously mentioned the Law. You can contact Renwei by e-mail at, stick to him on Twitter (@renweichung), or connect with him on LinkedIn. 


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