Frankfurt Kurnit strives to maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace. We firmly believe that valuing and promoting diversity is a core value for all successful businesses because diverse teams drive superior results for clients.
We are signatories to the New York City Bar’s Statement of Diversity Principles and supporters of numerous diversity-focused organizations. Our firm’s Diversity Committee meets regularly to discuss ways in which the firm can further its commitment to diversity through policies and internal programs. The firm also regularly organizes and sponsors external programs that focus on diversity in media, entertainment and the legal profession.
Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee Lisa E. Davis and Co-Chair of the Racial Justice Task Force Terri Seligman were recognized by The New York Law Journal as 2022 Diversity Initiative honorees. Lisa and Terri were included in a list of seven lawyers that have made a significant contribution to progressing diversity and inclusion efforts in New York’s legal community.
Recruitment and Retention
At Frankfurt Kurnit we are committed to building and maintaining a diverse workplace at all levels of the firm. We maintain relationships with several diversity-focused organizations and emphasize our commitment to diversity in the recruiting process.
The firm maintains mentorship and sponsorship programs to help younger attorneys of color focus on business development and advancement at the firm.
The firm also regularly participates in The New York City Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Program, a summer internship program for diverse high school students interested in careers in law.
Internal and External Events
We regularly host diversity events for our clients, attorneys, and staff. Below are some of the diversity-themed discussions we have hosted:
• In celebration of Black History Month, director Kamilah Forbes joined us for a discussion of the “Music” episode (S1 E3) of Hulu’s “The 1619 Project.”
• In 2022, we presented a Mock Interview Program for Brooklyn Law School student groups (including Black Law Students Association and Latin-American Students Association).
• Professor Tanya Hernandez, Fordham Law Center on Race, Law & Justice, and author of Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality spoke to the firm during The Racial Justice Taskforce's inaugural Racial Justice Day.
• In honor of Juneteenth, 2022, Frankfurt Kurnit participated in the American Bar Association’s 21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge. The goal was “to assist each of us to become more aware, compassionate, constructive, engaged people in the quest for racial equity.” The Challenge asks participants to engage daily with educational media including articles, videos and podcasts over a 21 day period. Each day from May 20, 2022 to June 17, 2022 our Diversity Committee shared the day’s assignment with all attorneys and staff. The full list of daily materials is available here.
• Southwestern Law School Professor (and Frankfurt Kurnit Alumni) Kevin J. Greene presented to the firm on the subject of racial inequalities in the music industry. His presentation included a description on how copyright law and formalities has led to and exacerbated the exploitation of Black artists and the misappropriation of their works.
• Clint Smith, best-selling author, poet, and scholar joined us virtually for an in-depth conversation exploring the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history.
• The Frankfurt Kurnit Racial Justice Task Force hosted a film club discussion on the documentary Summer of Soul, the acclaimed documentary by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.
• Members of our LA office spent time in nature and got to know new colleagues while bearing witness to a historic moment of land reclamation during a picnic-style outing at the oceanfront park of Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach, CA. California recently agreed to return Bruce’s Beach to the black descendants of its original owners—the Bruce Family, who owned and established the beach as a public gathering space for black beachgoers at the turn of the 20th century. Manhattan Beach took the property from the Bruce Family in the late 1920s.
• Frankfurt Kurnit attorneys and staff participated in a volunteer day at the SPY Garden in West LA – a community garden with a sustainable food system to help address food inequality issues for the local homeless population.
• The Frankfurt Kurnit Racial Justice Task Force organized a New York City Slavery and Underground Railroad Walking Tour for attorneys and staff in our New York office.
• Legendary author Walter Mosley held a virtual discussion of his literary work – with a focus on his Black male heroes. Mr. Mosley is perhaps best known for his 15 novels featuring detective Easy Rawlins.
• Camille Gear Rich, J.D., the principal of Rich Diversity Consulting (RDC) and Carol Ross-Burnett, principal of CRB Global LLC, presented the training session “Debiasing Your Recruiting Process: Implicit Bias, Institutional Bias, and the Role of Anti-Blackness in Attorney Hiring.”
• Anu Gupta, Founder & CEO of Be More America presented the training session “Hacking Implicit Bias.”
• Laurie N. Robinson Haden, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at CBS Corporation and Lou Briskman, Retired General Counsel at CBS Corporation presented "Building Impactful Mentoring Relationships" to our attorneys and alumni.
• Name Changes: Representing Low-Income Transgender Clients. A session that addresses the legal underpinnings of name changes in New York, the mechanics of filing and publication, cultural competency and techniques for working effectively with low-income transgender clients.
• RBG. A revelatory documentary about the exceptional life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, whose legacy on sex discrimination law and Supreme Court jurisprudence has been transformative, and who has become an unexpected pop culture icon.
• Dr. Arin Reeves of Nextions presented a training session for our attorneys titled “Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback.”
• Women in Technology - Challenges and Opportunities. A conversation about the struggle to break in and advance -- and how companies struggle with mentorship, sponsorship and inclusion from the perspective of women leaders in the technology industry.
• The Armor of Light. An Emmy Award winning documentary about a minister's crusade to change his followers' views on guns, by filmmaker Abigail E. Disney. Ms. Disney was present for the thought-provoking talk back.
• "Bystander Intervention Training," led by Debjani Roy, Deputy Director of Hollaback!, a nonprofit organization focusing on the prevention of public harassment through nonviolent interventions.
• “Navigating and Understanding Generational Differences” – an extremely valuable session designed to optimize communication between younger and older colleagues, taught by Dr. Arin Reeves, of Nextions.
• The Experiences of Muslims in America. A discussion moderated by Albert Cahn, Legal Director of the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations focusing on “Love Thy Neighbor?” a Washington Post article, “Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.S. and Around the World” an article from the Pew Research Center, “African Muslims in Early America” an article from the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “History of Islam in America” a C-Span interview, and “Banned Together – Part 3” an episode from the Buzzfeed Podcast “See Something, Say Something.”
• Interactive training session for our attorneys titled Inclusive Intelligence: Think, Practice & Serve Clients Better by Recognizing, Understanding and Interrupting Your Unconscious Biases, presented by Dr. Arin Reeves of Nextions.
• ”Can We Talk About Whiteness,” a podcast from NPR CodeSwitch, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” an article by Peggy McIntosh, and “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City,” a New York Times article by Nikole Hannah-Jones. The discussion was moderated by Dennis Chin of the Center for Social Inclusion.
• “Building Successful Diverse Teams” taught by Cornell University Adjunct Instructor Shelley Greenwald. Ms. Greenwald's training focused on the range of different "working styles" and how to bridge them; and the skills necessary for supervisors to provide valuable reviews.
• The Return of the Sex Wars. A New York Times Magazine article by Emily Bazelon highlighting the decades-old intellectual debate simmering beneath the current conversation over sexual assault on campus.
• Labor Pains. A New Republic article written by Rebecca Traister about the impact of pregnancy on work and career.
• What Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taught Me About Being a Stay-at-Home Dad. An article written for the Atlantic by Ryan Park.
• The Case for Reparations. A 2014 Atlantic article by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which addresses the legal, moral, social and economic issues surrounding the question of reparations for African Americans. Dr. Khalil Muhammad of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture moderated the discussion.
• Off and Running. Nicole Opper and Sharese Bullock-Bailey produced this Emmy-nominated documentary film. It tells the incredible coming-of-age story of Avery - an African-American teen whose parents are white Jewish lesbians and whose two adopted brothers are mixed-race and Korean. Our attorneys, staff and firm alumni enjoyed the film and a talk-back with the producer.
• Growing Up Trans. A documentary created for PBS's Frontline by award-winning filmmakers Miri Navasky and Karen O'Connor. The filmmakers were on hand for a talk back post-film, sparking a great discussion.
• Covering – The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights. NYU Professor Kenji Yoshino’s seminal work.
• Double Life. Written by Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine, Double Life is a dual memoir by a gay couple who thrived for decades in the highest reaches of the entertainment, art and advertising worlds while hiding their relationship.
• Estate Planning for LGBT Couples. A discussion with some of our Trusts and Estates experts.
• Burying the Lede: Race, Gender, and Religion in the Media. A Gotham Media Digital Breakfast.
• Freedom Riders and the Loving Story. Award-winning films about seminal civil rights events.
• US Supreme Court decisions. Presentation by Sherrilyn Ifill, the President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Ms. Ifill discussed several of the most significant US Supreme Court decisions from the 2013 term – including the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, and marriage equality cases.
Associations and Partnerships
Our lawyers are members of numerous diversity focused organizations, including:
• Empire State Pride Agenda
• Broadway Backward/Broadway Cares
• The Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund
• The Council of Urban Professionals
• Corporate Counsel Women of Color
• The NAACP Legal Defense Fund
• New York Women in Film and Television
• The Trickle Up 100 Women Campaign
• The New York Women’s Agenda
• The Studio Museum in Harlem
• GLINTA (an association of gay and lesbian trademark professionals)
• Anti-Violence Project
• Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
• New York Civil Liberties Union
The Frankfurt Kurnit Diversity Committee is Co-Chaired by partners Lisa E. Davis and Wendy Stryker, and includes: Tiffany Caterina, Tyler Maulsby, Maria Nava, Jacqueline Obispo, Dorian Slater Thomas, Alycia S. Tulloch, and Larry Welch. In 2023, we were proud to have been honored by Lawyers of Color (LoC) with their Aspire Diversity Award given to law firms satisfying specific DE&I standards.
Frankfurt Kurnit is a diverse and inclusive law firm both in composition and practice. The employees of our firm comprise different genders, races, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and other protected employee classifications. We are committed to maintaining and promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace and are proud to state publicly that:
Our commitment to diversity is fundamental to our firm culture, critical to our ability to attract the best professionals and staff, and essential to the effective delivery of high quality legal services to our clients of all backgrounds.
We pledge to consider implementing a supplier diversity program such as that recommended by the National Supplier Diversity Council. Where appropriate, we would be pleased to partner or act as co-counsel with Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises in the legal community and in other industries.