Lewis Brisbois Appoints Chief Diversity Partner and Director of Diversity & Business Development
Los Angeles, Calif. (October 9, 2020) – Lewis Brisbois is pleased to announce the appointments of San Bernardino Partner Rima Badawiya to the position of Chief Diversity Partner and Director of Business Development Janet Burt to the position of Director of Diversity & Business Development. In these roles, Mses. Badawiya and Burt will work with Lewis Brisbois’ leadership and its Diversity & Inclusion Committee, chaired by New York Partner Karen Campbell, to support and expand the firm’s diversity mission. Together, they will lead efforts to promote firmwide education and awareness of diversity and its ability to enrich our workplace, our communities, our profession, and our everyday lives.
Ms. Badawiya, who serves as the administrative partner of Lewis Brisbois’ San Bernardino office and a co-chair of the firm’s National Healthcare Practice, explained that the San Bernardino office is a model upon which to base future diversity efforts across the firm. She described the office as incorporating the “whole gamut of diversity and inclusion.” Ms. Badawiya emphasized that although it is important to have diverse groups represented in the workplace, it is the “special and unique” ideas and perspectives that emerge as a result of such diversity that is key. Indeed, Ms. Badawiya attributes the growth and success of her practice to the fact that she and her colleagues “are different” and “not cookie-cutter.” She explained that Lewis Brisbois’ clients value creativity, which arises only from individuals who have varying experiences and come from different walks of life.
As part of her work in her new role as Chief Diversity Partner, Ms. Badawiya plans to “engage in ongoing conversations with every single managing partner across the country” to discuss and help implement essential regional initiatives for each of Lewis Brisbois’ 53 offices. She emphasized that the firm is committed to increased efforts to recruit diverse attorneys from law schools. She explained, “Our best chance of continued and increased diversity and inclusion is from the beginning. Attracting brand new associates and helping them not only to learn but to grow the practice of law is where we will see success and retention.”
Ms. Badawiya noted that Lewis Brisbois’ appointment of herself and Ms. Burt to their respective diversity roles represented “more than an expansion of its Diversity & Inclusion Committee. It’s a solid commitment to the fact that our diversity efforts are going to be re-galvanized and brought into line with what is happening in our country today so that we are attacking the issues of our time, such as institutional racism, and making a concerted effort to be as inclusive and diverse as the clientele that we represent, so that legal representation is a reflection of what American society is today,” she said.
As a second generation Palestinian American, Ms. Badawiya noted that her empathy for others has resulted from being part of a group that generally has been stereotyped and marginalized. She pointed out, however, that her experience at Lewis Brisbois has been quite the opposite, noting that her personal journey is an indication of what an individual from a diverse background can accomplish in a supportive environment. “It is a tribute to Lewis Brisbois that I have been able to rise from an associate to equity partner. It provides demonstrative evidence that you can come here as an associate and work your way to the top echelon of the organization.” In addition to furthering Lewis Brisbois’ diversity efforts, Ms. Badawiya will continue to focus upon her civil trial practice in which she defends nursing homes, assisted living facilities, physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare and long-term care professionals and organizations against a variety of claims.
Like Ms. Badawiya, Ms. Burt comes from a diverse background. As a 1.5 generation Korean American, she spoke no English when she first arrived in America and has worked hard to integrate into American society. She explained that she is “so grateful to the firm” for giving her a new opportunity and that she has been “putting a lot of time into thinking about what comes next” now that she has been appointed as Director of Diversity & Business Development. She pointed out, however, that Lewis Brisbois has valued diversity and has been engaging in social justice efforts for many years. “I am grateful that the firm is taking the initiative to formalize the efforts. This is confirmation of what we have been doing already.”
Ms. Burt believes that marrying her experience in business development to her diversity focus will allow her to reach a wide variety of communities. “There is definitely a synergy between those two,” she said. “I am part of our diversity and inclusion already. That is simply a reality of my life. We all need to be responsible for social justice.”
Explaining that Lewis Brisbois has consistently provided her with autonomy and opportunities to engage with current and prospective clients, Ms. Burt described, “From day one, the firm encouraged and supported my instincts to simply go out and engage in the community. This has given me the foundation for meaningful business development.”
Prior to joining Lewis Brisbois’ Marketing team, Ms. Burt worked at a Black female-owned community outreach agency in Los Angeles where she assisted developers to engage in outreach efforts within Black communities. She called that experience an “eye opener,” noting, “I could relate to them.” In her new role, Ms. Burt would like to bring additional legal resources to all of the underrepresented communities in Southern California, while working to broaden education and awareness of the value of diversity and inclusion in all of Lewis Brisbois’ offices across the nation.
Ms. Campbell, who serves as a co-chair of Lewis Brisbois’ General Liability Practice and also chairs its Diversity & Inclusion Committee, said of Mses. Badawiya and Burt’s appointments, “Rima Badawiya is a well-respected partner at the firm and serves on the Management Committee. With the dedicated assistance of Janet Burt and ready access to our leadership, she can move the firm’s diversity initiatives forward. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee looks forward to continuing to support the firm’s current initiatives and all future diversity ventures.”
With 30 years of experience as a trial attorney, Ms. Campbell maintains a broad general liability and trial practice that includes defending hotel industry clients against a variety of claims and litigating matters under the New York and New Jersey Child Victims Act. She also has represented long-term care providers and social services clients in a range of actions.
Before entering private practice, Ms. Campbell was an Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York and was the Managing Partner of the New York office of a New England regional law firm. Ms. Campbell is from the Bronx but attended high school in Massachusetts through the A Better Chance (ABC) program. As one of a few Black students, she considers her stint in a non-diverse school and community her first introduction to a host of diversity-related issues and the source of her interest in inclusivity.
In appointing Mses. Badawiya and Burt to significant diversity roles, Lewis Brisbois reaffirms its ongoing commitment to embrace and celebrate the variety of lived experiences, and the wide array of views and perspectives that contribute to its success.