The Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston chapter and The Texas Lawbook recently named Baker Hughes global litigation counsel Amy Blumrosen a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion award.
In this Q&A, Blumrosen discusses with The Lawbook’s pro bono, public service and diversity writer Natalie Posgate how she approaches female attorney mentorship, why community and pro bono work is important in addition to DEI work and her views on where DEI is headed in the Texas corporate world.
(Editor’s note: Questions and answers have been edited for style, brevity and clarity).
Texas Lawbook: Although diversity, equity and inclusion is increasingly becoming a universal term in the corporate world these days, it could mean different things to different people. What does it mean to you?
Amy Blumrosen: DE&I means promoting fairness, equal opportunity and above all respect for all individuals. We need to recognize and value our differences and realize we all have some shared experiences that connect us as humans.
Lawbook: You seem to be someone who values community service and pro bono just as much as DEI work. Why is that also important to you, and how do you think DEI and public service work go hand in hand?
To read Natalie Posgate’s full-length profile of Amy Blumrosen, CLICK HERE
Blumrosen: I believe that community service and pro bono work are essential to advance the legal standing of diverse and underserved populations. We need to recognize that communities are made up of people from all walks of life and we need to acknowledge the social inequalities and strive to make our communities a place were all have an equal chance to thrive.
Lawbook: What do you see as the biggest challenges for in-house counsel and GCs of Texas companies regarding diversity within corporate legal departments and their role in pushing their outside law firms in being more diverse?
Blumrosen: I believe GCs need to be intentional in their hiring; talent development; career development; and listening to feedback from within the organization.
In-house attorneys when looking at partnering with outside firmsalso need to be intentional – look at the firm’s diversity makeup; look at their culture, their pro bono programs and make that a part of the decision when hiring an outside firm.
Lawbook: Year after year, The Lawbook publishes reports on law firm diversity. Truthfully, the numbers are consistently depressing. Law firm leaders almost always blame the pipeline for not having enough diverse attorneys. Two questions: 1) Are they right to blame the pipeline, and 2) are there answers to fixing the pipeline that you have seen?
Blumrosen: The answer is probably not a one-size-fits-all solution. However, I think schools need to work with the law firms to provide early outreach and education to create opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds.
Lawbook: Are there specific diversity initiatives that you believe more law firms should develop or employ?
Blumrosen: Most firms say they have DE&I initiatives, but I believe there needs to be intention and not just talk – intentional hiring, training, promoting, sponsoring and mentoring.
Lawbook: You mentioned in our interview that you’ve never had a female mentor because any female lawyer who could be a mentor viewed you as a competitor. How do you approach mentorship to young female attorneys and provide them the support that you did not have earlier in your career?
Blumrosen: If I’m working with a female associate at one of our outside firms, I try to make sure and let the partners know when they’re doing a good job. For example, for one female attorney I’ve worked with who is now a partner at a firm, I wrote a recommendation letter for her when she was up for partner. I’m always trying to promote that. Also, I have kids who keep me busy — as do a lot of other women. I’ve learned that thatif you want something done, give it to a woman who is busy because she’ll get it done.
Lawbook: Where do you think DEI is headed in the corporate world over the next few years?
Blumrosen: I’m hoping it’s continuing forward and growing stronger because there’s still so much inequity in the workforce. But its scares me when I read the Houston Chronicle and see that the state Senate passed a bill saying that public higher education in Texas can’t take DEI into consideration when hiring.
It feels like there’s this backlash to the green/ESG efforts and now it feels like there’s backlash to DEI efforts. Part of the population feels like we’re going backwards, and the part that wants to go backwards is the part that’s currently winning right now in terms of, I guess, how we’re going to be as America. that’s the part right now that’s unfortunately in power and winning. We take two steps forward and take three steps back. We have to keep fighting.