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July 29, 2022

Commissioner Spotlight | German A. Gomez

Azuka Dike
German A. Gomez; ABA Commission on Racial and Ethic Diversity in the Profession

German A. Gomez; ABA Commission on Racial and Ethic Diversity in the Profession

We asked Commissioner, German Gomez, about his service on the Commission. Here is what he had to say!

Where are you currently employed? I am the Chief Human Resources Officer for Hogan Lovells, a global law firm with over 2600 lawyers in 45 offices in 22 countries.  As CHRO I am responsible for developing and implementing human resources initiatives and strategies that enable the firm to deliver on its goals and priorities. Prior to my current role as CHRO, I served as an Assistant General Counsel in the firm’s General Counsel’s Office for over five years. The General Counsel’s Office provides legal advice and counsel to the firm’s leadership on legal ethics, professional responsibility, and risk management issues. 

My duties include the following: advising firm management on the interpretation and application of professional responsibility, legal ethics, conflicts of interest, and unauthorized practice of law rules and regulations; drafting and reviewing firm contracts and other agreements with vendors and consultants; handling firm corporate issues ( including partnership registration, filings, and regulatory submissions); developing, drafting, and implementing firm policies, procedures, and guidelines; developing, drafting, and implementing firm compliance, CLE, and training programs; assisting the firm with responding to client information requests, compliance audits, and RFPs; and monitoring compliance with attorney bar qualification and reporting matters.

How long have you served on the Commission? I have served one year on the Commission. Also, over the past 10 years I have participated in various ABA Entities and Committees that focus on promoting ethics and diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession. Including the Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR), the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council, and the Standing Committee on Professionalism.

I also served as the Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council’s inaugural ABA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Summit held in September 2022 (during Hispanic Heritage Month). The idea for DEI Summit was conceived in response to the racism and inequality in summer 2020 after George Floyd’s death. Members of the ABA Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council came together to discuss how they could respond and their conversations led to the inaugural ABA Equity Summit: Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Legal Profession and Beyond.  It was an opportunity for members of the legal community to come together to educate themselves and exchange insights on key diversity, equity and inclusion challenges in the profession. The DEI Summit’s four days of programming included: “Best Practices for Recruiting, Supporting and Retaining Lawyers with Disabilities as Part of Firm DEI Initiatives,” a panel that offered legal employers guidance on how to attract lawyers with disabilities and make their workplaces more inclusive;  “You Can’t Change What You Can’t See: Interrupting Bias in the Legal Profession,”a panel that explored how to interrupt bias in hiring, assignments, performance review and compensation; “Relying on the Diversity Pipeline to Achieve Diversity in the Legal Profession,” which focused on how attorneys and judges can help address the challenges faced by diverse students along the education pipeline; and “COVID-19 and the Impact of Diversity and Inclusion in the Practice of Law,” a panel that addressed how the pandemic has affected the legal profession. I also presented a TED-style talk on “Using ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) to Advance DEI in the Legal Profession,” which highlighted how the rule that prohibits harassment and discrimination by lawyers can be used to further DEI initiatives.  A key highlight of the DEI Summit was having Justice Sonia Sotomayor serve as our keynote speaker and where she also engaged in a Question & Answer session with diverse law students across the country.

What are your assignments on the Commission? I served as the Spirit of Excellence Award Sub-Committee Chair.  The Spirit of Excellence Awards celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Awards are presented to the lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national and international level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. I also currently serve on the CREDP’s Strategic Planning Committee.

As your first term ends, what brings you pride about your work on the Commission? Currently, I am working on the CREDP’s Strategic Planning Committee and specifically serve on the subcommittee addressing issues related to lawyer retention in our profession and formulate ways how to incorporate it into the CREDP’s mission, including clarifying how we are defining retention as including promotion and advancement as well as looking at the entire profession to evaluate the existence of distinct patterns within practice settings that impact retention. Other key issue include: recognizing that unique issues exist for attorneys of color and women which may center around belonging, support, work/life balance and/or desire for increased professional development and economic advancement (including decisions influenced by student loan debt); the need for legal organizations to collect more narrative retention data in recognition of the challenge of trying to improve something that we cannot measure; and the need for legal organizations to be proactive about strategies to foster belonging, flexibility, meeting people where they are and identifying what new lawyers want to accomplish in the course of their career at the organization (so as not to unnecessarily lose the value of people).

What do you feel the Commission offers the broader ABA and legal profession? CREDP serves as a catalyst promoting diversity and inclusion within the legal profession and the ABA by facilitating the entry, participation and retention of diverse lawyers. The Commission achieves this by furthering the development of substantive programs and services in which diverse lawyers, law firms and law students will actively participate.

Although the ABA has for years made efforts to promote full and equal participation in the profession and the justice system by all people, and to eliminate bias in the legal profession, much more needs to be done. We need to come up with new strategies on how to combat bias in the profession, and hopefully stem the flow of women and minority lawyers leaving the profession. The CREDP is at the forefront of this fight.  Through the ABA Model Diversity Survey, which is part of ABA Resolution 113 that urges all providers of legal services, including corporations and law firms, to expand and create opportunities at all levels of responsibility for diverse attorneys, we can now collect data of firm demographics and policies to assist in increasing participation of under-represented groups in the legal profession. Also, our current strategic planning initiative is an example of how we are attempting to move the needle because old strategies are not working.  As recently as 2020, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 87% of lawyers are White, surpassing all other professional fields including architects, which are 81% White, accountants 78% White and physicians at 72% White.

What are some of your hobbies? Coaching and playing soccer; mentoring young legal professionals; and home improvement projects.

If you were a dessert, what would you be? Creme Brulee – Crunchy & fiery on top and soft & cool in the middle.

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