In the wake of increased public interest and debate as to the proper role of companies, boards and other organizations in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programming, messaging and commitments, the business community faces a rapidly shifting new landscape of legal, regulatory and reputational risks related to DEI efforts.

From the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Students for Fair Admissions case to the increasing efforts by DEI opponents to leverage media and courts to dissuade corporate DEI initiatives, DEI programming can create new forms of legal, regulatory and reputational risk. These interdisciplinary risks implicate board governance, crisis communications, securities law, shareholder and NGO activism, monitorships, workplace investigations, pay equity and culture audits/scans. Beyond legal risks, DEI also informs strategy in more traditional human capital work streams including training, recruitment, leadership development, philanthropy, equity scans, community engagement and workplace fairness. DEI efforts are crucial to retaining talent, gaining market share and attracting a diverse cross-section of investors in ever-evolving, highly competitive national and global markets.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon lawyers have trained, audited, defended and advised global clients and organizations on DEI related matters over many years. Shook’s DEI Counseling, Compliance and Disputes Practice (CCDP) is a natural evolution of our longstanding commitment to inclusion and fairness. Our CCDP is also shaped by the award winning initiatives for which Shook and its lawyers have been nationally recognized.

Bringing together nationally recognized practice experience in investigations (white collar and workplace), employment, corporate governance, compliance, crisis management and communications, and civil right litigation, Shook’s CCDP also benefits from one of the busiest and most successful class action and complex litigation practices in the field. Shook attorneys try more than 25 cases to verdict in a typical year while resolving dozens of others in favor of our clients across multiple industries and throughout all 50 states. Our advisory services include:

  • Workplace investigations.
  • Management briefings and trainings
    • Implicit bias
    • Debiasing strategies
    • The case for sponsorship
    • The business case for DEI
    • Building a winning, inclusive workplace culture
    • Generational diversity
  • Advice and counseling
    • Best practices
    • Litigation avoidance
    • Assessing program effectiveness
  • Civil rights litigation
    • Defensive (including claims of reverse discrimination)
  • Strategic DEI audits
  • Leadership messaging
  • Confidential diversity risk assessments
  • Crisis management and communications
  • Best practices and benchmarking


Shook brings an unmatched team with perspective and experience typically not found in other law firms. Shook lawyers have years of experience guiding clients through vulnerability assessments, compliance reviews, policy development, benchmarking and civil rights claims. Shook’s CCDP is perhaps the only practice led by a former Fortune 100 global head of diversity and workplace fairness who also served as global head of litigation. Our CCDP team includes a crisis communications and media relations expert and the head of our national employment policy practice, and a partner, who, in a prior in-house role, advised a Fortune 10 company on legal, policy and business aspects of bellwether employment class action litigation, and a crisis communications attorney who, before joining Shook, was a vice president of litigation communications at a top 10 public relations firms and communications director for two members of Congress.

Collectively, our CCDP team has led board directed investigations domestically and abroad. We have advised some of the largest companies in the world on public policy matters, communications strategy and related advocacy and have trained scores of clients, their global law departments and our own colleagues on topics including unconscious bias, avoiding DEI related litigation risks and leading culturally sensitive investigations. Our experience includes briefing public company boards and c-suites on the evolving nature of risks (and risk avoidance) in DEI initiatives. We have a dedicated civil rights practice led by a former big city assistant district attorney with over a decade of jury trial experience in civil rights and police misconduct cases. Our national thought leadership in DEI includes an appointment of one of our attorneys to the current Law360’s Diversity Editorial Board.

At Shook, we also live our values. We are Mansfield certified and have had a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index over many years. Some years ago, we launched “Project Affirmation”—a pro bono name change and gender marker amendment legal clinic serving the transgender community. The lead of our CCDP team is also the firm’s partner-in-charge of DEI and chair of Shook’s DEI committee, which includes, as one of its members, our firm chair. Three of Shook’s core CCDP team are members of the firm’s Management Council.