McGuireWoods Chairman Jonathan Harmon is one of five African American law firm leaders who shared personal stories and insights on building a more diverse legal profession in Law360’s “Diversity Snapshot” series published Aug. 31, 2020.
Harmon contributed an essay headlined “Advancing Diversity in the Legal Industry and Beyond.” Audio excerpts from Harmon’s essay and those written by other African American leaders were included in a separate video.
Harmon described how his experience serving as a first lieutenant in Operation Desert Storm influenced his leadership style. He recalled the powerful lesson his father taught him about overcoming hate after a cross was burned into a Black family’s lawn across from his boyhood home. Now, after the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others, Harmon wrote, “our family members and our broader communities are hurting.”
“How can we talk — really talk — about racial justice now, in real time, in ways that foster long-term solutions? It boils down to leadership, communication and collaboration,” Harmon wrote.
Harmon outlined some of McGuireWoods’ recent initiatives, including internal town halls in which lawyers “are speaking candidly, movingly and, yes, sometimes painfully, about their own experiences facing racial injustice and how we, as a firm, can openly and honestly move forward.”
“We cannot be bystanders. Ever,” Harmon wrote. “When it comes to advancing meaningful change in our firms, our profession and our society, there is no good time and there is no bad time. There is only this time. Now. Today.”