Lafayette & Kumagai LLP is a minority-owned firm, where diversity has always been a top priority. Since its founding in 1994, Lafayette & Kumagai has consistently maintained well over 80% minority and women representation across its professional ranks. Within the firm, minority representation is expressed in the inclusion of a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of the founding partners, an African-American man and an Asian-American woman. Currently, of its ten attorneys, 70% are women and 80% self-identify as ethnic minorities. The firm’s commitment to diversity is based on inclusion regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability status.
Lafayette & Kumagai’s dedication to diversity includes providing opportunities for minority and women attorneys to succeed as lawyers and achieve distinction in the legal profession. Well before corporate law departments, followed by the large law firms, implemented diversity initiatives, Lafayette & Kumagai provided a platform for minority attorneys to showcase their skills before Fortune 500 companies.
Lafayette & Kumagai also advocates for diversity in open forums whenever possible. Within the last year, the firm sponsored a reception and roundtable discussion for the California Public Utilities Commission addressing the issue of minority attorney retention. Ms. Kumagai co-chaired the 2008 California Minority Counsel Program’s Annual Business Conference. Mr. Lafayette chaired a panel addressing the issue of maximizing profits for minority law firms and another regarding strategies for retaining diverse lawyers. The firm partnered with a client and invited its summer law clerks to attend depositions to not only observe real-life litigation, but to gain exposure to a minority-owned law firm environment. Lafayette & Kumagai has increased its contacts with law schools in an effort to assist in the placement of minority law students in the surrounding Bay Area. Members of Lafayette & Kumagai actively participate in events sponsored by CMCP, NAMWOLF, the NBA, MCCA, NAPABA, the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area and numerous other organizations supporting diversity in the legal profession. Mr. Lafayette, as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the California Lawyer Magazine, advocated for the consideration and inclusion of diverse attorneys in the California Lawyer of the Year Award. Ms. Kumagai advocated with the National Minority Law Group for inclusion of minority and women-owned firms to be considered as candidates to provide legal services to the U.S. Department of the Treasury under the Troubled Assets Recovery Program (“TARP”).
To Lafayette & Kumagai, diversity is not just about numbers, it is about inclusion that enriches the work environment and leads to the success of each of its attorneys.