Page 8 - Minnesota Vol 8 No 5
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“We are continuing to see more and more injuries and deaths asso- ciated with hazing from high school and college students. I think one of the things I’ve learned through this process is the importance of creat- ing awareness about the harms as- sociated with hazing and trying to change the stigma that you need to go through something like this to belong. Sometimes, you don’t see physical manifestations of hazing, it’s more mental trauma than phys- ical.  e e ects of those situations can be long-lasting, but are less re- ported. Society hasn’t really moved to recognize that the psychologi- cal harms can sometimes be more harmful than physical ones.  e law hasn’t caught up with that, and there is an opportunity here to il- luminate the issue.”
His keen attention to equality and justice for everyone also mani- fests in Vaughn’s actions as a law leader. He has long been a cham- pion for greater diversity within the  rm and in the profession at large. He is past co-chair of Robins’ diversity committee and current chair of its recruiting/hiring com- mittee, and he has utilized these roles to inspire positive change and reimagine the look of the law.
To augment Robins’ 1L clerkship program, through which the  rm hires  rst-year law students from historically marginalized commu-
nities in hopes that they will come back and join the  rm full time, Vaughn encouraged participation in the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP). DAPP is a non- pro t organization that addresses the continued and systematic de- cline of women of color lawyers in large law  rms and across other coveted positions in the legal pro- fession. It aims to diversify the legal profession by expanding opportu- nities for women of color law stu- dents to secure summer positions at law  rms and corporations fol- lowing their  rst year of law school.
“I thought it was a win-win for the  rm in terms of achieving greater gender, racial and ethnic diversity,” Vaughn said. “I have also been committed to making time to speak at local law schools, particu- larly at events hosted by minority student organizations, and partici- pating on panels for legal organiza- tions like Twin Cities Diversity in Practice (TCDIP), with the hope of increasing visibility of Robins as a warm environment for diverse pro- fessionals.”
Vaughn emphasizes that recruit- ing is the easy part. It is the areas of inclusion and retention where law  rms generally break down.
“We’ve really been focused over the past couple of years on how we can make our  rm more inclusive. We’ve held trainings on how to be a
good ally, on unconscious bias, and on appropriate diversity and inclu- sion terms to use so everyone can understand how to refer to minor- ity communities.”
Vaughn has also been instru- mental in establishing Robins’ fu- ture leaders program. “We identify women, attorneys of color and LG- BTQ attorneys who are perceived as high achieving and we would like to see advance in the  rm, and make sure they receive additional training and feedback to improve their odds of advancement. Of the inaugural class, everybody is still at the  rm and is advancing.”
Vaughn, with the help of col- leagues from across the country, is now spearheading a new pipeline program for young black lawyers.
“At the national level, we still continue to see signi cant issues in large law  rms in terms of the number of attorneys of color in partner ranks and  rm leadership. Our goal is to provide mentorship and feedback to high-achieving law students and junior associates from senior associates and partners inside big law  rms and in-house counsel.  e hope is that the senior associates, partners, and in-house lawyers can guide the next genera- tion, so they do not experience the same pitfalls we did. O en, what happens is that lawyers of color don’t see anybody like them at higher levels. We’re trying to be a sounding board to help people sur- vive and thrive with the help of a support network.”
Looking back upon his own ad- vancement inside this Am Law 200  rm, Vaughn  rst gave credit to the in uence of his parents.
“My mom and dad both instilled a strong work ethic.  ey made sure I valued that somebody may be smarter than me, but I never had to let anybody outwork me. My dad also coached me on things to expect inside a big law  rm. It was valuable to have somebody with a little insider knowledge and life ex- perience to say these are the things you should be looking for.”

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