The Walt Disney Company And Prominent Law Firm Bingham Mccutchen Recognized For Diversity Efforts

SAN FRANCISCO, November 20, 2002 – During its 13th Annual Business Development Conference, scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 20 through Thursday, Nov. 21, the California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP) will be presenting awards to The Walt Disney Company, Bingham McCutchen, and the Bay Area Minority Summer Clerkship Program (BAMSCP) in recognition of their ongoing commitment to diversity. The conference, “Changes and Challenges,” will be held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in San Francisco, and will feature two of the most prominent members of the legal community as keynote speakers: the Honorable Ronald M. George, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, and Dennis Archer, President-Elect of the American Bar Association.

“Diversity within the law continues to be an issue of concern, so it is gratifying to see the efforts made by companies like The Walt Disney Company and Bingham McCutchen,” said Guy Rounsaville, Jr., 2002 CMCP Steering Committee Chair and General Counsel, Visa International. “The steps taken within their organizations are inspiring, and are key to the larger and longer-term changes still needed within the legal profession in terms of the advancement of minorities.”

The recipient of the 2002 Corporate Diversity Award, The Walt Disney Company (Disney) has participated as a panelist at various CMCP forums on diversity, and continues its active in-house diversity program to recruit and promote highly qualified minorities and women into key legal positions. Disney currently employs 282 in-house attorneys, 35 of which (12 percent) are minorities. In May of 2001, Disney established the Disney Minority Counsel Program (DMCP) through which it identifies and selects minority firms and minority attorneys at majority firms to participate in Disney’s legal work. Since the DMCP’s inception, Disney has assigned 13 legal matters to nine of its minority firms, and more than half of those firms received multiple legal assignments. Another proactive measure Disney has implemented includes establishing an in-house Diversity Team that works closely with Disney’s Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise to address diversity issues.

“We are proud of our workforce diversity programs that open doors to minorities and women and create an inclusive work environment, and are most gratified that the California Minority Counsel Program has recognized these efforts,” said Lou Meisinger, General Counsel, The Walt Disney Company.

This year’s Law Firm Diversity Award, which honors the law firm that best embodies the spirit of inclusion, is being presented to Bingham McCutchen, a founding member of CMCP. Bingham McCutchen boasts an impressive record on diversity, having been named one of the 25 Most Diverse Law Firms in America in two editions of the Minority Law Journal and being rated third in the 2002 Vault ranking of the top 100 law firms. The firm has a solid track record of attorneys of color holding key leadership roles, including former partner David Andrews – the first African-American managing partner of a major U.S. law firm. Bingham McCutchen has made a broad range of efforts toward the advancement of minorities, from sponsoring a Boalt Hall Minority Scholarship, to participating in the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Minority Clerkship Program, to handling pro bono litigation involving racial discrimination, desegregation of schools, voting rights and hate crimes.

The Bay Area Minority Summer Clerkship Program (BAMSCP) is receiving the 2002 Law School Diversity Award. BAMSCP is a unique program that works with all the accredited law schools in the Bay Area, placing minority first-year law students from Boalt Hall School of Law, Hastings College of the Law, Golden Gate University School of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law, Stanford Law School and the University of San Francisco School of Law in paid summer associate positions. In this way, the program exposes minority law students to the requirements, work, and culture of majority law firms while also helping the students develop skills, confidence and the necessary credentials and professional contacts for future career success. Through these efforts, BAMSCP hopes to increase minority hiring and retention at majority-owned firms. As part of the award, BAMSCP will receive a $2,000 stipend to be applied toward the furtherance of the program’s overall goals.

Considered to be CMCP’s signature event, the annual conference features a General Counsel Reception that provides top-level legal department executives and minority outside counsel an opportunity to interact. Other conference events include a mock trial, informative law-related roundtables and networking opportunities.

About the California Minority Counsel Program
Founded in 1989, CMCP was created in response to the lack of representation of minorities in the highest levels of the legal profession, even though they constituted close to half of the population in California (and today constitute the majority). CMCP has developed several programs designed to maximize opportunities for minority attorneys to network and develop business relationships, including several conferences, receptions, roundtables and seminars. Corporations, public agencies, majority-owned law firms, minority-owned law firms and individuals are invited to join as members. For more information, please visit CMCP’s Web site at