Our Affinity Group Communities
At Blank Rome, we have a network of eight professional communities: BR Asian, BR Black, BR Brave, BR Latinx, BR MENA, BR Parents, BR Pride, BR Women, and BR United.
Through our affinity group network, we are building an organizational understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion and developing a broader collective impact that grounds our overarching diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. Through a shared vision for social change that includes a common understanding of the problems, a joint approach to solving the problems, and defined goals in our affinity group strategic impact plans, we are able to accelerate progress and foster a more inclusive work environment and legal industry.
These groups connect members across offices and disciplines, strengthening relationships within the organization. The groups also support the growth and development of our attorneys and legal professionals, communities, and business.
BR Parents supports parents and caregivers at Blank Rome striving to manage their professional and parental responsibilities.
BR Parents’ mission is to provide support for Blank Rome attorneys and legal professionals seeking to manage both professional and parental/caregiving commitments. BR Parents provides a platform for the exchange of ideas and networking among colleagues, information sharing pertinent to working parents and caregivers, and the promotion of innovation and support to help ensure that members of our firm have the ability to excel as well as maximize our service to our clients, whether external or internal.
BR Parents facilitates community and peer-based support through periodic meetups with colleagues and with individuals outside the firm that focus on shared experiences and on an array of parent-related topics. Meetups are offered across all of Blank Rome’s offices, and are geared toward parents of children of all ages and to parents of children with special needs or challenges. BR Parents offers mentorship, in particular to new parents and parents returning from leave. We offer resources covering a wide range of topics such as educational and age-related issues, parental wellness and stress relief, and confronting social justice challenges. BR Parents has taken a particularly visible and active role in navigating the complex changes, including the transitions to and from remote work, that have taken place stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. From sharing regularly updated resources, to providing a place for parents to discuss the challenges of “pandemic parenting,” to communicating regularly with firm leadership, BR Parents has been a key outlet for parents facing unprecedented challenges.
The BR Parents Forum has become a pillar supporting the firm’s broader diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, making the firm a place where everyone can do their best work in an environment where everyone can bring their “whole selves” to work, and attracting and harnessing our diverse talents and competencies to enhance the firm’s client service.
BR Parents Chairs:
Gregory F. Vizza (parent to three children)
Partner, Finance Practice Group
Lauren B. Wilgus (parent to two children)
Partner, Maritime and International Trade Practice Group
New York, NY
BR Pride’s mission is to develop and foster a sense of community and inclusion for LGBTQ+ attorneys and legal professionals at the firm through recruiting, retention, professional and personal development opportunities, firmwide education and communications, and policies that support a positive and respectful work environment and LGBTQ+ inclusion, while also addressing equity issues of LGBTQ+ individuals in our firm and our communities.
We frequently host cocktail receptions, seminars, and networking events throughout the firm’s offices to bring together our attorneys and business professionals in a social setting inspired by an atmosphere of meaningful inclusion that supports our LGBTQ+ community, both locally and nationally.
BR Pride participates in the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association’s Annual Lavender Law® Career Fair and LGBTQ+ Out and Proud Corporate Event Reception. We are also involved in various legal clinics to provide aid and assistance to transgender individuals and LGBTQ+ communities.
In recognition of our firm’s ongoing commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, Blank Rome LLP has been designated as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality for seven years in a row by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, receiving a perfect score of 100 percent on the Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality.
And, in 2017, Blank Rome received LeGaL Foundation’s Community Vision Award in recognition of our firm’s milestone victory for the LGBTQ+ community at large in Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth C.C., which overturned a 25-year precedent when the court ruled that non-biological, non-married, non-adoptive parents can seek custody and visitation of children who were born into their relationships with the consent of the child’s biological parent.
Blank Rome is proud of its longstanding history of supporting diverse communities and individuals, and looks forward to continuing its work on enhancing and encouraging inclusion in this space, both in the legal industry and beyond.
BR Pride Chair:
Partner, Energy Practice Group
BR Pride Vice Chair:
Associate, Intellectual Property & Technology Practice Group
BR United is our multicultural affinity group for attorneys of color that focuses on action and equitable results when it comes to advocating for positive change.
BR United fosters an inclusive culture and equitable work environment by holding our members and colleagues accountable to implementing our values in all we do and achieving our strategic goals. We provide professional development programs that cover the full spectrum of attorney development from junior associate to senior level partner, as well as leadership development programming. We are members of affinity bar associations and community groups that align with our goals and needs. We host events to provide opportunities for our attorneys to build relationships across offices, departments, and practices, as well as sponsor external opportunities for our attorneys to attend various conferences. Every other year, we host a DEI Summit at Blank Rome to come together with clients for experiential learning and socializing.
Under the umbrella of BR United are our culturally-oriented affinity subgroups—BR Asian, BR Black, BR Latinx, and BR MENA—which bolster our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals through attracting talent, presenting growth opportunities and resources to develop members, and serving as a lever for inclusion and business opportunities at Blank Rome, leveraging the connections, expertise, and knowledge of the members.
- BR Asian is a professional community for colleagues of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander descent to gather, share and address issues and concerns that impact the group, and engage in work to educate and spread awareness about the different cultures and ethnicities of the Asian and Pacific Islander ethnocultural backgrounds. As a Blank Rome community, BR Asian will share related resources, host cultural and networking events to connect colleagues internally and externally, introduce branding opportunities, and foster inclusion that empowers this community to continue strengthening their identities.
- BR Black is a professional community for colleagues of the African and Black diaspora to gather, share and address issues and concerns that impact the group, and engage in work to educate and spread awareness about the different cultures and ethnicities of the Black ethnocultural backgrounds. As a Blank Rome community, BR Black will share related resources, host cultural and networking events to connect colleagues internally and externally, introduce branding opportunities, and foster inclusion that empowers this community to continue strengthening their identities.
- BR Latinx is a professional community for colleagues of the Hispanic and Latin diaspora to gather, share and address issues and concerns that impact the group, and engage in work to educate and spread awareness about the different cultures and ethnicities of the Hispanic and Latinx ethnocultural backgrounds. As a Blank Rome community, BR Latinx will share related resources, host cultural and networking events to connect colleagues internally and externally, introduce branding opportunities, and foster inclusion that empowers this community to continue strengthening their identities.
- BR MENA is a professional community for colleagues representing Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Palestine, Israel, Tunisia, and Syria to gather, share and address issues and concerns that impact the group, and engage in work to educate and spread awareness about the different cultures and ethnicities of the Middle Eastern and North African ethnocultural backgrounds. As a Blank Rome community, BR MENA will share related resources, host cultural and networking events to connect colleagues internally and externally, introduce branding opportunities, and foster inclusion that empowers this community to continue strengthening their identities.
BR United Professional Development Programs
- BR Achieve is a professional development training program tailored for junior associates who are active members of BR United. BR Achieve focuses on building professional and technical skills, while also having open discussions about how to thrive in Big Law.
- BR Belonging is a supplemental mentorship and sponsorship program for ethnically diverse attorneys with two tracks—one for associates and counsel and one for junior partners—meant to address the holistic needs of participants, including professional development, business development, community and networking, and wellness, while also providing resources and information to help navigate the law firm work environment. We provide a Mentoring Toolkit to assist mentees and mentors in developing a successful relationship. Mentees also receive guidance from our executive and client generator circles.
- BR Advance is a multi-pronged leadership development program tailored for high-performance women of color attorneys and legal professionals who are mid to senior level, to assess and evaluate current leadership competencies and skills, develop skills to fill gaps, and provide personal development and branding coaching. This program is designed to groom new and emerging leaders and partners at the firm, while addressing the needs and intersectional challenges of women of color in the legal industry.
- McKinsey & Company’s Connected Leaders Academy is a training program that is part of their racial equity plan to help organizations make demonstrable progress on inclusion and equity, improve talent pipelines, and unlock the full potential of people within the company. This program—offered at no cost to cohorts of Black, Hispanic and Latino, and Asian leaders—focuses on early professionals, midcareer managers, and senior executives.
BR United Chairs:
Cheryl S. Chang
Partner, Consumer Financial Services Practice Group
Los Angeles, CA
Morgan Fraser Mouchette
Partner, Matrimonial and Family Law Practice Group
New York, NY
BR Women Leads Firm Women Initiative
BR Women provides our women attorneys with valuable professional development, mentorship and sponsorship, leadership, and client development opportunities that support and promote career growth and advancement, with coaching and strategies to thrive—both inside and outside of our firm.
We are proud that our women attorneys and women senior professionals are consistently ranked and recognized for their professional accomplishments in their respective fields of practice by leading legal industry and business publications and surveys, such as Chambers USA, Chambers High Net Worth, Chambers Global, Legal 500, Benchmark Litigation, Law360, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and local business journals, to name a few. Equally important, our BR Women members are active in the bar and their communities, and generous in their support of one another.
Through our quarterly BR Women meetings, Women’s Business Development Academy, and other enrichment activities, we work to meet our goals, which include fostering the next generation of women leaders in our firm through retention and promotion efforts, supporting women in client relationship development, creating a positive and supportive network of women, highlighting our successes, and working together to advance our firm’s strategic plan. This includes the original HERstory initiative that highlights how Blank Rome is much more than a sum of its parts. We regularly honor the career achievements and personal milestones of a woman attorney, with anecdotes and tributes by colleagues woven together into HERstory.
Each office also has a local women network, which works to engage women across all offices and practice groups, while also helping BR Women assess priorities and focus resources. In addition, BR Women regularly collaborates with the firm’s other affinity groups to support overlapping membership and be mindful of intersectionality considerations.
We are also deeply committed to connecting with our leading women clients to find innovative solutions for advancing women and addressing today’s top industry issues. We have hosted our Women’s Leadership Summit annually since 2017, drawing hundreds of women leaders in law and business nationally to discuss challenges related to the ever-evolving legal and corporate landscape. We also host notable events with our women clients, such as our BR Women Bootcamps.
In addition to our firm-wide initiatives and client programs, we are proud to participate in innovative programs and partnerships aimed at advancing women throughout the legal industry at large. Notably, our firm is an active participant in Diversity Lab’s industry-leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the Mansfield Rule program, which measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women, attorneys of color, attorneys with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ attorneys for governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions. We have also participated in other Diversity Lab programming, including the Women in Law Hackathon and Women in Law Hackathon Alliance (both of which bring law firms, students, and industry professionals from across the country together to increase gender parity in the top ranks of the legal profession).
In recognition of our leadership in promoting family-friendly policies, and career and business development initiatives aimed at advancing and retaining women in the legal industry, our firm has been named a Best Law Firm for Women by Seramount (formerly Working Mother Media), recognized in Yale Law Women’s Top Firms for Gender Equity & Family Friendliness Report, and listed in Exelon’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Honor Roll. Blank Rome also achieved Mansfield Certification Plus after successfully completing Diversity Lab’s yearlong Mansfield Rule program and we are participating in Diversity Lab’s newest iteration of the program.
BR Women also recognizes attorneys and professionals for their significant contributions to women’s advocacy and leadership, both at the firm and in their communities, through the Bonnie Glantz Fatell Women’s Advocacy and Leadership Award, established in 2020 and awarded annually. Past winners include Shawn M. Wright, Stacy D. Phillips, and Susan L. Bickley.
BR Women Co-Chairs:
Linsey B. Bozzelli
Partner, Corporate Practice Group
Elaine H. Scivetti
Partner, Real Estate Practice Group
Deborah A. Skakel
Partner, Business Litigation Practice Group
New York, NY
To learn more about our women’s initiatives, please contact Kate Tavella at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.988.6988.