Moderator, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Corporate Counsel Institute, "Panel Discussion III - Diversity Equity and Inclusion: Erasing Tension Between Social Obligation and the Bottom Line"


January 17, 2024 | 9:00 AM - January 17, 2023 | 3:30 PM EST

Featuring: Robert L. Johnson

Presented in cooperation with the NJSBA In-House Counsel Special Committee

The work of corporate counsel is subject to inevitable change and growth. The role is significantly reshaped now due to society’s expectations of business and necessarily the pressures of global politics and the environment. In order to maintain success for the entities to whom they provide counsel, attorneys must strategically and affirmatively address both cultural and environmental concerns while making a clear business case for their resolution. The NJSBA Corporate Counsel Institute for 2024 is designed to summarize these complicated matters in a discussion format and offer our attendees modern solutions and perspectives to these novel concerns.

Program Agenda:

9:00 | Introduction
9:05 | Panel Discussion I – How to Manage a Crisis and Come Out on Top
– Moderator: Rajiv Parikh, Esq.
– Presenters: Brian McDonough, Esq.; Cristal Reyes Lambert, Esq.; Nicole Bearce
From pandemics to supply chain interruptions, employee transgressions to market downturns, war zones to the effects of climate change, every company at some point will face a crisis. This panel of crisis management experts will show you how to prepare and even thrive when the unexpected happens.

The moderator is Rajiv Parikh, who recently served as part of Governor Phil Murphy’s trade delegation to India, was transition counsel to the governor and has worked closely with the governor and his senior team on issues of statewide importance including crisis management. The speakers’ panel consists of: Brian McDonough with Kessler PR, who utilizes his legal experience to provide strategic crisis communications counsel and litigation support to clients confronted with complex and high-profile matters: Crystal Reyes Lambert, an accomplished senior in-house counsel responsible for managing compliance, commercial litigation, policy, regulatory and transactional matters for a Fortune 500 retail company; and Nicole Bearce, Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Head of Litigation and Employment, Chief Ethics and Privacy Officer at Conduent, a global, technology-led, digital interactions BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) pioneer.

Together, they will draw on their wealth of knowledge and experience to provide you with concrete steps for managing a crisis. Topics include: what you can do prior to a crisis to lay the groundwork, immediate responses that will stem the fallout, how to designate and assign specific duties to members of a crisis management team, how to get out your message while protecting privileged information and longer term plans that will lead to success.

10:20 | Networking and Sponsor Break
10:30 | Panel Discussion II – Can You Keep a Secret? A Practical Primer on Protecting and Enforcing Trade Secrets
– Moderator: Clara Jimenez, Esq.
– Presenters: Jeff Pade, Esq.
With a changing landscape of patent value and enforcement, more and more companies are relying on trade secrets to protect assets. This panel will provide practical perspectives on how to effectively protect this highly valuable information in a more mobile and decentralized environment. Our panel will also explore what recourses may be available for victims of trade secret misappropriation in the civil and criminal contexts, and what in-house needs to know before they are prompted to respond to a crisis.

12:00 | Lunch
12:45 | Panel Discussion III – Diversity Equity and Inclusion: Erasing Tension Between Social Obligation and the Bottom Line
– Moderator: Robert L. Johnson, Esq.
– Presenters: Ms. Lora L. Fong, Esq.; Abigail Epane-Osuala; Bill Bradshaw; Veronica Berruz, Esq.
It’s no secret that there is tension between doing the right thing for the right reasons in the DE&I context and avoiding inappropriate bias. Put another way, how do we recognize the value of diversity without appearing biased and risking litigation? What will convince law firms that DE&I is not a marketing ploy or simple favoritism but rather a business initiative for financial success?

Most are aware of “The Harvard Case” concerning race conscious admissions. Many of us await what the Supreme Court of the United States will do next and worry that the other shoe will drop within the corporate context.

In this panel discussion including experts with a variety of backgrounds and professional disciplines, we will recognize this tension as we sit on the precipice, as usual, of equity. We will seek to demystify what the goal of DE&I and hopefully to expand our attendees’ understanding of how deep and wide the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion can reach within the corporate sphere.

DEI is so much more than just acquiring the right talent. It is a product production plan, it is a marketing strategy it is a management perspective and to many professionals, it is a way of life.

Is the apparent push back against the diversity, equity and inclusion movement a false cover for racism and other discrimination? To what extent has it become a real concern for the companies that recognize the value in DEI practices in their organizations and how can companies communicate that value to consumers? How do we incorporate best practices for DEI into training, management and internal policy while it appears to constantly change?

2:00 | Networking and Sponsor Break
2:10 | Panel Discussion IV – General Counsel Roundtable on the changing responsibilities of general counsel
– Moderator: Sharmila Jaipersaud, Esq.
– Presenters: Nate Saint Victor, Esq.; Stephen Kim, Esq.; Machelle Morey, Esq.
The role of corporate general counsel is ever-changing. Nowadays, a GC must have significant knowledge of not only corporate compliance with the written law but also developing social perspectives on the environment/social/governance management perspectives, cybersecurity, data privacy, artificial intelligence, and DE&I initiatives. Our moderator will lead a discussion on the evolving role of general counsel and the responsibilities that attorneys have for continued education and monitoring of social expectations within their client’s industry and its customers.

3:30 | Adjourn