“Advancement of Minority Attorneys Remains a Critical Issue,” Says Amy Hanna Keeney

Topics: Diversity, Leadership, Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color Advisory Board, Thomson Reuters

The Advisory Committee to the Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color (NGL: ALC) initiative is excited to announce Amy Hanna Keeney, Special Counsel at Adams and Reese, in Atlanta, as a new member.

As a woman from a Middle Eastern background, she had difficulty early in her career finding her place and is excited to influence the direction of the NGL: ALC as a platform to share what she has learned as well as learn from other diverse attorneys across the industry.

NGL: ALC: Tell us about yourself, your areas of expertise, and how you decided on your practice areas.

Amy Hanna Keeney: I am a Special Counsel with Adams and Reese, and a litigator as well as a regulatory counselor. I practice in the Financial Services and Data Privacy sectors. For most of my career, my clients have been banks and non-bank financial services companies, so I have learned to grow with their dynamic needs.

Why did you decide to become an Advisory Committee member for NGL: ALC?

Advancement remains a critical issue for minorities in the legal profession. I have seen this in many workplaces. Attrition among diverse attorneys is often very high because bias in law firms is not explicit. For example, bias shows up in senior partners lacking an “emotional connection” with younger attorneys; and it also presents itself when senior attorneys channel work to male associates because the male’s female counterpart is unavailable due to childcare obligations.

These examples show very real and complex issues that are obstacles to the advancement of minorities in the legal profession, and these issues need to be examined from the top.

What most excites you about this initiative?

I am excited that advancement of minority attorneys is on the radar of such a large organization. I truly believe that the only way to address these complex issues is with significant buy-in from the major stakeholders in the industry.

How could legal employers partner more effectively with lawyers of color to accelerate their advancement?

Large institutional clients can make it a point to seek out diverse outside counsel where possible. At law firms, oftentimes the surest way to advance and change the agenda is with a major client in your corner.