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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Equal opportunity expertise

We embrace diversity as a broad and inclusive concept. It encompasses, without limitation, race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, nationality, age, disability, and marital and family status. We promote diversity to develop and maintain a working environment that encourages openness, identifies and maximizes each individual's potential contribution, and strives to remove barriers to individual achievement.

We accept, as our diversity, mission to become:

  • An “employer of choice” for those in the legal profession who seek an inclusive workplace offering first-tier career opportunities.
  • A “law firm of choice” among clients who share diversity as a business value.
  • A “leader by example” in our broader legal, business, and political communities.

Certified Women-Owned Law Firm

NJL has now been officially recognized as one of the largest certified women-owned law firms in the country.  We became certified through WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council), which validates businesses that are at least 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. This, of course, is in addition to having women in our President and CEO roles, as well as a majority of women on our Board of Directors.

We acknowledge that achieving our diversity mission requires continued attention, creativity, and dedication of time and resources. A standing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, made up of attorneys and staff members, develops and implements diversity initiatives and the Board of Directors incorporates diversity within the law firm’s planning and business development.

NJL Stands with Our Community for Equity & Justice

As advocates and citizens, we at Nilan Johnson Lewis are deeply ashamed and saddened by the events that unfolded in Minneapolis. The death of George Floyd at the hands of those designated to protect our city is simultaneously appalling and reflective of the racial inequities that still exist in our community. As a firm, we stand against these injustices and reaffirm our commitment to eradicating them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Floyd’s family and all others who have been affected by this tragedy.

We also acknowledge the collective trauma, anger, and desire for reform that have provoked protests in response to this week’s incidents. In some cases, these protests have incited looting and burning, actions that have bred additional fear and pain throughout the Twin Cities. We certainly do not condone lawlessness, and we are especially upset to see the damage inflicted on the communities that are most aggrieved. However, we also understand that—in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—“a riot is the language of the unheard,” and that such violence is often sparked by trauma and rooted in centuries of systemic racism and abuse.

We cannot, and will not, be casual observers to the injustice motivating this week’s events and plaguing the wellbeing of our community. Everyone has the right to feel safe and protected in the city they call home.

We encourage our employees and our community to take a proactive stand against all forms of racial injustice. We remain committed to promoting equity and justice within our organization and our communities. Together, as we begin to heal and learn let us also work to effect change.

—Originally posted May 29, 2020

The Diversity Committee is committed to providing a variety of opportunities for our employees to become aware of and immerse themselves in diversity topics relevant in today’s world. Examples of some opportunities the Committee has provided are:

  • Admission to the Race: Are We So Different? exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Admission to The Piano Lesson, at the Penumbra Theatre
  • Hennepin County Judge Alexander speaking about the Extended Juvenile Justice Program
  • “Getting to Know Your Muslim Neighbor” presentation by Mr. Zafar Siddiqui, the Director of the Islamic Resource Group’s Minnesota office
  • Tickets to India: Public Places/Private Spaces show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
  • “Women in Islam” presentation by Ms. Fedwa Wazwaz of the Islamic Resource Group
  • David D. Raasch, former Chief Judge of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans Tribal Court in Bowler, Wisconsin, spoke to the Firm about peacemaking in Native American culture and how that ties in with the concept of a restorative justice system
  • Dr. Saeed Fahia, Executive Director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, spoke to the Firm about Somalia, the Somali community here in the Twin Cities, how and why Somalis came to Minnesota, and gave us some perspectives on the Somali community today
  • Phil Duran, Legal Director of OutFront Minnesota, provided an update to the Firm on relationship-recognition issues, locally, nationally and internationally and well as discussed current and ongoing issues that the GLBT community faces

Click here to see our commitment to diversity in recruiting and retention.

Nilan Johnson Lewis in conjunction with the Step-Up Program through Achieve Minneapolis provides a paid summer internship opportunity for underrepresented minorities, GLBT students, young individuals with disabilities, and students from economically disadvantaged families, to gain experience working in a professional business environment with the possibility of a scholarship to pursue post-secondary studies in a legal or business field.

  • Diversity & Inclusion Honoree – Labor and employment attorney Veena Iyer was named a 2018 Diversity & Inclusion Honoree by Minnesota Lawyer.
  • Best Law Firm for Female Attorneys – The firm was ranked highly in 2018 (#18) among U.S. legal services firms employing at least 20 but fewer than 150 lawyers by Law360.
  • Top Law Firm for Female Attorneys – The firm was ranked highly in 2015 (#16) and 2016 (#9) by Law360 for top law firms for female attorneys.
  • Best Firms for Women Partners – The firm was also ranked highly in 2015 (#6) and 2016 (#10) on Law360’s “Ceiling Smashers.”
  • Minnesota Women’s Lawyer Award – In 2001, 2010, and 2016, we were honored with the Minnesota Women Lawyers Leadership Award in recognition of our efforts to enhance the status, influence, effectiveness, and full and equal participation of female attorneys in the workplace. 2016 marks the third time that Nilan Johnson Lewis has received the Leadership Award, the most times of any legal employer in the award’s 23-year history.
  • NAFE and Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firm for Women – Nilan Johnson Lewis was named as one of the best law firms for women in 2011 by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) and Flex-Time Lawyers.
  • Hennepin County Bar Association Award – Nilan Johnson Lewis received the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) Diversity Award for “demonstrating outstanding commitment to diversity in the practice of law” in 2004 and 2007. We also won a special achievement award from HCBA in 2006 for “demonstrating our ongoing commitment to diversity.”

*Click here to see our diverse community involvement.

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