Bank of America

Bank of America

2008 Employer of Choice Award Winner

Mid-Atlantic Region

Alice Herald
Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses, and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management, and other financial and risk-management products and services. Its legal department embodies a culture that emphasizes individual responsibility when it comes to implementing the company’s diversity commitment.

“The bank’s culture is one of inclusive meritocracy. It is a fundamental value within our franchise,” notes Alice A. Herald, deputy general counsel and corporate secretary.

As part of the company’s diversity commitment, attorneys in the legal department are required to identify at least two specific, tangible diversity goals in their personal performance and development plans. And, while it is not a requirement, most paralegals and administrative staff also choose to include specific diversity goals in their performance plans and participate actively in the department’s diversity programs.

The department’s objectives are to: (1) promote education and awareness on matters of diversity and inclusion; (2) create an inclusive and diverse work environment where all associates flourish and communicate freely; (3) encourage inclusive and diverse associate recruiting, retention, and development practices; and (4) advise management on achieving business goals, including retention of outside counsel, through diversity and inclusion.

(L to R) Veta Richardson of MCCA, Tim Mayopoulos, General Counsel of Bank of America, and Gary Kennedy, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, American Airlines

The department oversees its diversity program through its diversity business council, chaired by associate general counsel Michelle H. Rhee and championed by Herald. In 2007, the business council’s outside counsel committee spent much of the year identifying and evaluating a substantial number of additional minority and women-owned law firms for recommendation to the legal department. Through this process, Bank of America was able to identify some of the country’s highest-caliber firms in a variety of practice areas. In 2007, the department achieved considerable progress in its spending with minority and women-owned law firms.

Bank of America also understands the importance of pipeline recruiting. Herald explains: “We have partnered with local bar associations, bar organizations, and our law firms to create programs for diverse first-year law students that allow them to split a summer between our corporation and a local firm. It is an incredible development opportunity for the students. We targeted first-year students to highlight the professional and cultural opportunities available in the cities in which our offices are located, so they will hopefully return for a 2L internship and ultimately practice law in our communities.

“The Employer of Choice award is a huge impetus and a great honor,” Herald reflects. “From our perspective, it makes us want to do more to support diversity.” DB

From the November/December 2008 issue of Diversity & The Bar®

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