For the past twenty years, Boston-based Liberty Mutual’s in-house legal department has had a strong commitment as a role model and a champion of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) excellence. The BBA will honor Liberty Mutual Legal with its Beacon Award “Corporate Champion” Award on November 14 at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center.
Liberty Mutual’s commitment is evident in their efforts to broadly share their D&I story, to expand their message beyond awareness to the importance of creating an inclusive environment, to highlight their meaningful work both within the organization and through their pro bono efforts, and to make connections that motivate talent of all backgrounds to seek out Liberty Mutual as an employer of choice.
To help with these efforts, Liberty Mutual Legal has had a long-standing employee- and leader-led Diversity & Inclusion Committee, focused on delivering internal D&I experiences for their legal colleagues while also cultivating external relationships with law schools, students, and bar associations. The company notes that these efforts are helping Liberty Mutual achieve its goal of becoming a top three property and casualty insurer.
Dawn Frazier-Bohnert, Senior Vice President and Global Diversity & Inclusion Officer noted, “We’re focused on creating a sense of belonging for all. And our ongoing success depends on our ability to respond and adapt to change, seeing everything we do through a D&I lens.”
Specifically, two key D&I initiatives within Liberty Mutual Legal that have impacted their efforts are the Liberty Legal Academy and their Pro Bono Program.
Liberty Legal Academy
In 2018, Liberty Mutual Legal piloted a new program called Liberty Legal Academy – a development conference for mid-career female attorneys and attorneys of color from Outside Counsel firms. Thirty-seven attendees from 19 different states across the country attended the two-day conference.
The conference was hosted by Jim Kelleher, Liberty Mutual Legal Department’s Chief Legal Officer, Karen Morton, Chief Compliance Officer, and Damon Hart, SVP and Deputy General Counsel – Litigation and Coverage. The first speaker, Dawn Frazier-Bohnert, gave an overview of Liberty Mutual’s D&I initiatives and helped attendees get a better understanding of why the event was so important. The event also featured guest speakers and mentor attorneys from every Liberty Mutual Legal practice group participating in panel discussions and attending networking events.
Speaking about the event, Kelleher said, “We created this conference to identify talent of color and women and establish a pool of Outside Counsel attorneys who are able to represent our diverse customer base. It’s important that our Outside Counsel firms understand the value of developing all their attorneys.”
A past conference attendee noted, “It was great to see a large corporation value diversity, recognize and assist in the development of attorneys of color and women.”
Pro Bono Program
Kelleher notes that the legal team is encouraged to volunteer through any number of Liberty’s pro bono opportunities, including Economic Justice Clinic, Clinic in a Box, Homeless Shelter Clinic, and Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid, one of the largest lobbying days at the Massachusetts State House and which the BBA participates in annually.
Liberty’s pro bono programs have been honored numerous times over the years, including receiving the BBA’s 2013 Thurgood Marshall Award for being a trailblazer and a role model for Liberty’s pro bono efforts, and for its leadership in public service projects.
Pro bono efforts also include creating resource materials, participating in recurring opportunities such as the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day in the Housing Court program, and representing low income clients in areas such as housing full representation, special education/school discipline, and immigration and asylum issues. In total, Liberty Mutual Legal’s Boston office has nearly 80 volunteers who give more than 1,000 hours per year.
Beyond these two initiatives, Liberty Mutual Legal engages in a wide variety of other ongoing activities, such as a learning session on Understanding Race and Ethnicity in the Workplace, expansion of external relationships such as joining the National Association of Women Lawyers, and engaging 17 Liberty Mutual Legal employees to represent the company at various conferences and events.
For all of its current success, Liberty Mutual Legal has ambitious plans moving forward as well, including seeking ways to expand their D&I participation to their globally-based legal employees and establishing a legal leader and employee blog about their various D&I efforts.
Liberty Mutual Legal Department’s D&I commitment and leadership have created a company-wide culture that not only embraces D&I and the company’s values, but also leads by creating and promoting a culture of respect and trust and accepting all people and possibilities.
The BBA’s Beacon Award “Corporate Champion” Award recognizes an in-house legal department that has been a leader in internal or external projects and practices that promote a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.
You can learn more about Liberty’s D&I initiatives here.