B&D Chairman Ben Wilson Discusses Racial Injustice, Authentic Leadership, and Inclusion on Legal Speak Podcast

On June 5, 2020, Beveridge & Diamond’s Chairman, Ben Wilson (Washington, DC), participated in American Lawyer’s Legal Speak podcast episode titled “'This Has to Be a Seminal Moment': Black Law Firm Leaders on Inequity, Ire and What Comes Next.” The podcast conversation between African American leaders Ben Wilson, A. Scott Bolden (DC Managing Partner, Reed Smith), and Lisa Helem (Editor in Chief, The National Law Journal), considered the speakers’ personal experiences with racism, their thoughts on practicing authentic leadership, and their hopes for greater understanding and inclusion in the legal profession and beyond.

Echoing his remarks in the June 3, 2020 The American Lawyer article "'It Could Have Been Me': Black Attorneys Reflect on George Floyd's Death and What Comes Next," Ben discussed the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor within the larger context of violence against African Americans throughout American history, noting that the complete list of names of those who met similar fates “would take, sadly, too long to call.”

As a firm leader, Ben spoke on the importance of authenticity, including honoring his experiences and racial identity.

"I don’t think you can be a real leader if you aren’t authentic, and I want to bring my whole self to the work that I do chairing my firm. Everyone else does, and I’m unapologetically African American. I believe those experiences have shaped my thinking, they are of value, and they help allow me to make a worthwhile contribution, just as the background of others helps them to make a worthwhile contribution."

In closing, the speakers looked to the future and expressed hope for sustained conversations and change. Ben encouraged law firm leaders looking to create more inclusive cultures to build diverse teams and use firm resources to impact the community and address issues of criminal justice reform.

To enact lasting change, Ben says, “We must act.”

“It must be different, and we must not try it for a year or two and then we move on. We have to be stubborn about this. We have to be determined about this.”

As a law firm, B&D stands first and foremost for justice and the equal and humane application of the rule of law, and we invite you to read our statement On Justice and Recent Events.

Listen to the full podcast on Law.com.