Gender and racial diversity in law firms is always a hot topic.
Attorney Emery K. Harlan has done his part to promote minority hiring. The partner at Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan in Milwaukee co-founded the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) in 2001.
In his time as chair of the organization, membership has increased to include more than 100 minority and women-owned firms throughout the country, which in turn has elevated the profile of those attorneys to compete with other firms for work.
Harlan joined what is now one of the largest minority-owned firms in the country in 1994 as an associate and less than two years later made equity partner.
Known for his marketing ingenuity, Harlan has helped grow the firm from a handful of lawyers to 120 attorneys in 15 offices nationwide.
He put his creativity to work in this week’s Asked & Answered.
Wisconsin Law Journal: If you could develop one CLE course for credit, what would it be about?
Emery K. Harlan: How involvement in the community can benefit your legal practice.
WLJ: What can you spend hours doing that isn’t law-related?
Harlan: Playing tennis.
WLJ: What is your favorite website and why?
Harlan: JSonline.com. I like staying on top of breaking developments in our area.
Harlan: David Alan Grier, because he’s nuts.
WLJ: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?
Harlan: It’s all about relationships and how you interact with people.
WLJ: What is the first concert you went to?
Harlan: Luther Vandross at the Rosemont Horizon in 1984. I took a special friend at the time, who was a Luther fan. I can say that it was well worth the price of admission.
WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
Harlan: Vernon Jordan, because he is the consummate power player. The man knows everybody.
WLJ: What is the hardest thing to tell a client?
Harlan: We are probably going to lose.
WLJ: What is the one luxury item you cannot live without?
Harlan: My BlackBerry.
WLJ: If you were State Bar President for a day and could make one permanent change to the profession, what would it be?
Harlan: Require attorneys to take pro bono assignments.
Jack Zemlicka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.