Cole Schotz Appoints First Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer

National law firm Cole Schotz P.C. announced today the appointment of James Alexander Lewis, V as Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer. Mr. Lewis, a former litigator, has deep experience developing and implementing DEI programs in the public, nonprofit and legal sectors.

“James has long dedicated himself to increasing diversity in the legal profession and we are incredibly excited to welcome him to the firm,” said Co-Managing Shareholder Randi Kochman, who also serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. “His deep experience advising organizations on DEI initiatives will help us build on our own core values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and ensure we are a firm that is able to recruit and retain an increasingly diverse team.”

Mr. Lewis draws from his experience serving as the Executive Director of the NYC Bar Association’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which provides DEI services to a membership of more than 25,000. In that role, he also cultivated opportunities for diverse attorneys, led seminars and trainings to combat implicit biases, and designed professional development content highlighting strategic and innovative approaches on how to strengthen the pipeline of diverse candidates.

“I was drawn to Cole Schotz’s commitment and desire to advance diversity within the firm and in the legal sector more broadly, as well as the opportunity to make a real impact at a leading, national law firm,” Mr. Lewis said. “I look forward to engaging with stakeholders about what they view to be the biggest immediate priorities, while building out systems that help the makeup of the firm more closely reflect the markets in which it operates. This will include cultivating strong relationships with area bar associations and law schools.”

Mr. Lewis previously served as a Partner and the Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Chasan Lamparello Mallon & Cappuzzo, PC, where he worked as a litigation associate earlier in his career. His volunteer work has included service on the Board of Trustees for the New Jersey State Bar Association where he served as the Chair of the Diversity Committee and Chair of the Minorities in the Profession Section. Mr. Lewis is the Vice President of the Garden State Bar Association, the oldest and largest professional organization for African-American judges, lawyers, and law students.

“James is a prominent DEI specialist who brings with him a tremendously valued voice and vision,” said Co-Managing Shareholder Warren Usatine. “We’re very fortunate he has agreed to join us and are excited to grow our DEI efforts under his guidance.”

Mr. Lewis will be based in New Jersey and work across all firm offices to advance DEI initiatives. His arrival in this inaugural role builds on the invaluable contributions of Ellie Krug, the only transgender lawyer turned diversity consultant in the country, who the firm engaged in 2020 to refine and progress its DEI efforts.

Mr. Lewis earned his B.A., cum laude, from Rutgers University and his J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law. Earlier in his career, he served as law clerk for Judge Michael A. Shipp of U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and law clerk for the Ocean County Superior Court of New Jersey.

About Cole Schotz P.C.

We are a coalition of over 170 attorneys – a collection of top legal talent that brings a wealth of experience to our clients. We work with businesses, large and small, as well as select individuals, many of whom continue to work with the firm for decades. Our clients turn to us to execute on their business goals with our distinct confidence and legal dexterity. As an AmLaw 200 firm with nationwide representations and a global reach, we represent clients in connection with an array of legal matters across 15 practice areas.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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