Diversity within Diversity
Focusing on diversity can be a way to share cultural experiences, build connections, contribute to a community and learn from others. For Sheldon Philp, a litigation counsel in our Miami office, doing so achieves all of these desirable results and more.
Sheldon currently leads White & Case's US Black Affinity Group. One of the Group's objectives is to promote awareness of the experience, culture and history of Black Americans. Each year in February, our US Black Affinity Group hosts a series of cultural and legal events to celebrate Black History Month. These include presentations on civil rights issues, lunch panels, film screenings, musical performances and art exhibitions in our New York, Miami, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles offices. Our US Black Affinity Group also invites influential black lawyers and judges to discuss important topics with our lawyers, employees and clients throughout the year.
In addition, as a past president of the Caribbean Bar Association (CBA), Sheldon maintains close ties to the voluntary bar organization, which aims to inform, educate and empower all members of the Caribbean-American community in Florida. Through the CBA, he and others provide legal assistance to individuals who immigrated from countries devastated by natural disasters, conduct community citizenship drives (to explain the legal benefits of applying for citizenship to US permanent residents) and create scholarships and legal internships with local judges for Caribbean-American law students. Over the years, Sheldon has mentored several of these law students and notes: "Serving as a mentor is a tremendously rewarding experience, and can prove to be invaluable for the law students, many of whom are, like myself, the first members of their family to attend law school."
Sometimes these worlds combine, as when CBA members joined our US Black Affinity Group for a "Diversity within Diversity" symposium held in our Miami office for more than 100 guests in February 2012. At the symposium, the first African-American President of the Florida Bar provided a keynote speech on "Diversity and Inclusion Within the Legal Profession," and a Jamaican photographer presented an art exhibition.
Most of all, Sheldon appreciates White & Case's "tremendous support" for his work helping others through the CBA and for the opportunities our US Black Affinity Group allows to connect with colleagues in other White & Case offices and with others beyond. Raoul Cantero, Executive Partner for Diversity, notes that Sheldon's leadership of the Affinity Group has had a powerful impact. "Sheldon has leveraged his considerable connections as Past President of the Caribbean Bar Association to raise White & Case's profile in the larger Miami legal community. He has highlighted the Firm's commitment to providing pro bono legal services to immigrant populations, and helped strengthen our relationships with local judges and prominent members of the Florida bar. We are tremendously grateful for his service."