DLA Piper has named Fenimore Fisher, who for the past two years has been the chief diversity officer and vice provost for diversity and inclusion at Johns Hopkins University, as the firm’s new chief diversity and inclusion officer.
He will officially join the firm July 15 and replace Genhi Givings Bailey, who left in October.
Fisher has been overseeing John Hopkins’ multiple diversity initiatives. Before that, he worked for five years, under two different mayors, as deputy commissioner, chief diversity officer and equal employment opportunity officer for New York City. Prior to that, he headed up Walmart’s diversity initiatives for nearly three years. He holds a law degree but never practiced law.
“My entire professional life has been dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion strategies in ways that are measurable,” said Fisher in a statement. “This is an opportunity I never imagined I’d have. I’m exhilarated to work with [DLA Global Chairman] Roger [Meltzer] and the entire leadership team, to not only impact the firm but also the legal profession.”
At Johns Hopkins, Fisher led the university’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and oversaw the Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion, a comprehensive plan released in November 2016 that provides an overview of the university’s diversity efforts and goals. The university released two annual diversity and inclusion progress reports.
Fisher also oversaw the assembly of the university’s second Report on Faculty Composition, which provided detailed data on the gender, minority and underrepresented minority status of faculty across the university.
Fisher is also a past or present member of several diverse organizations including the Rainbow/PUSH–Wall Street Project; National Multicultural Women’s Conference and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
Diversity officers have moved from a secondary role in firm recruitment efforts to a central role within c-suites in recent years. Corporate clients are further pushing the issue, going as far as handing over matters to minority and women-owned firms. And several law firms now boast diversity officers, including Blank Rome, Fisher & Phillips, Shearman & Sterling and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
Roger Meltzer, DLA Piper’s global co-chairman and co-chairman for the Americas, said diversity is indispensable to the firm’s success. DLA Piper ranked No. 61 in the 2019 Diversity Scorecard with 18.4% of its attorneys identifying as minorities.
“Making diversity and inclusion a top priority of the firm has benefited our clients, our lawyers and staff, and our firm culture as a whole,” Meltzer said in a statement. “As we continue to strategically grow our presence across the country and around the world, it is vitally important that we continue to think broadly when it comes to hiring, retention and promotion.”