Our Diversity Commitment
Our Commitment To Diversity
From our living rooms to the courtrooms, here at Harris Shelton, our word and conduct are carried out at the office and in our daily lives. Diversity is a fixture in our firm’s core values, business strategies and professional behavior. It’s the way we serve our clients and the way we serve our communities.
Our collective staff comprises unique perspectives and approaches with one goal: serving the clients’ best interests. At Harris Shelton, not only do we promote a culture of diversity in the workplace, but we implement meaningful programs designed to achieve that goal.
History Never Stops Teaching Us Lessons
While Memphis has always struggled with issues of race-relations, with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel Downtown, or the sanitation strike earlier that year highlighting racial discrimination, perhaps less well-known is Memphis’ role in the women’s suffrage movement - in particular - our own firm’s conduct.
The Southern Woman Suffrage Conference was held in Memphis in 1906. Despite strong opposition, one of the current firm’s predecessor lawyers, Joseph Hanover, as a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, cast the deciding vote to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Change, we understand, is not only good, but necessary.
We recognize change is not achieved by good intentions or words in a statement. It is a result by action. Therefore, we commit to:
Recruit lawyers and staff regardless of race, religion, color, age, gender, national origin, or physical capabilities: We evaluate potential employees based on meaningful attributes, namely, their ability to provide our clients with professionalism and exceptional legal services.
Empower individuals within the firm to receive membership based on experience and merit: Minorities, women, and attorneys of various age groups hold ownership interests in our PLLC.
Provide mentorship opportunities for young lawyers: Each Associate at our firm is paired with a mentor who is a Member; in part, mentors serve as valuable resources for discussion and solutions, incorporating diversity and inclusion, work/life balance, and guidance for navigating legal careers. Our firm sees the mentorship program as a valuable, educational, and mutually-beneficial experience for both the Associates and their Mentors.
Serve organizations that value diversity in the legal field: Our lawyers are active members and leaders in professional organizations dedicated to promoting diversity, including the Ben Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association, Association for Women Attorneys, Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women, Young Lawyers Division of the Memphis Bar Association, Multi-National Ministries, and the National Hispanic Professionals Organization.
I have been a member of the firm since 2000. Because of my personal experience – lifelong Memphian, National Achievement Scholarship recipient (inaugural class), summer clerkship with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Philadelphia office) while at the University of Pennsylvania law school – I am keenly aware of the value and importance of diversity in all aspects of life, particularly in the delivery of legal services. Throughout my career, I have been, and remain, committed to diversity for all, whether in connection with various pro bono activities (e.g., serving as local counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the Memphis and Shelby County school desegregation cases from 1972–1977, currently serving as local counsel for LDF in the Fayette County school desegregation case, and serving as chairperson of the Memphis Branch NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee for several years), or in advising clients of the firm.
I am committed to development and maintenance of a culture at Harris Shelton that recognizes the importance of diversity in our practice and in our community today.
It is indeed a privilege to serve the legal community as a member of Harris Shelton. In 1997, the firm’s leadership, under the watchful eye of John Harris, Jr. and Max Shelton, took the step of hiring me as the firm’s first associate of African-American ancestry. I have been an equity partner with the firm for years, and now, as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, I am part of the management that continues to lead efforts to diversify our workforce and enhance the ability of the City of Memphis and the state of Tennessee to excel and grow. The spirit of excellence is recognized by all, and it recognizes no race, nationality, creed, or arbitrary barrier. Neither do I, and neither do the lawyers at Harris Shelton.
As an attorney at Harris Shelton, I have experienced first-hand how a diverse team of attorneys helps us provide innovative and unique solutions for each client’s particular needs. By valuing diversity and collaboration, Harris Shelton is better able to provide high quality service and results time after time. I have personally benefitted from diversity at our firm because I have been exposed to lawyers who think in a different way than I do and have unique experiences from my own; this allows us to learn from one another and ultimately provide the best legal strategy possible for our clients. As a result of the diverse culture at Harris Shelton, I am proud that my law practice has developed into a meaningful one, founded on genuine relationships with both my co-workers and clients.