Stoel Rives Names Karen O’Connor Chair of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Stoel Rives LLP, an Am Law 200 law firm, today announced that Karen L. O’Connor has been appointed Chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee (DE&IC). The DE&IC at Stoel Rives is responsible for developing strategies and tools to help the firm achieve its goals for diversity, equity and inclusion in its workforce. As Chair of the DE&IC, O’Connor will oversee implementation of the firm’s long-term DE&I initiatives. She has been a member of the DE&IC since 2018 and served as Vice Chair over the past year, working closely with the former Chair Timothy M. Taylor to ensure a smooth transition. Dexter J. Pearce, an associate in the firm’s Portland office, will serve as Vice Chair of the Committee.

“Creating and sustaining a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace is integral to our mission of providing exceptional client service, and as lawyers we have a commitment to promoting justice and equality in the practice of law and in our communities,” said Melissa Jones, Firm Managing Partner of Stoel Rives. “Karen has demonstrated clear leadership that has strengthened the committee’s role at Stoel and has been an important voice in helping us focus on best practices to foster an environment in which diverse talent can thrive at the firm.”

“Our culture needs to reflect our diverse community, and we believe that a more diverse law firm is a better law firm,” said O’Connor. “At this pivotal moment in our country, each of us might ask ‘what can I do to make a difference,’ and I am thrilled at the opportunity to lead the DE&IC and help make a difference at Stoel Rives.”

Established in 2005, the DE&IC at Stoel Rives promotes and actively monitors the firm’s initiatives and progress in attracting, developing and retaining diverse attorneys and staff. The firm has encouraged the formation of workplace “affinity groups,” such as Lawyers of Color, Associates of Color, Women at Stoel Rives, and Q, for LGBTQ+ attorneys.

Stoel Rives partners with Diversity Lab, an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law. The firm is one of five founding law firms nationwide joining more than 25 general counsels and top legal leaders to fund and create “Move the Needle” (MTN), the first collaborative effort and a first-of-its-kind experiment to develop and test innovative ways to increase diversity and foster inclusion in the legal profession.

Based in Portland, O’Connor is a partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment group and throughout her career has focused her practice on legal issues related to discrimination. Her practice at Stoel Rives includes counseling and litigation on workplace harassment and discrimination, among other complex employment issues.

Pearce represents employers in matters involving labor and employment-related disputes, including ADA and discrimination issues, and regularly conducts anti-discrimination and harassment training for clients. He is a founding member of the firm’s Associates of Color “affinity group” and has been a member of the DE&IC since 2018. A graduate of Duke University School of Law, he joined Stoel Rives in 2016, after serving as a Summer Associate in 2014 and 2015. Pearce is a member of The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.

Taylor, a Sacramento-based partner in the firm’s Environment and Natural Resources group, will continue to serve Stoel Rives’ Lawyers of Color “affinity group.”

“The success and significance of the firm’s diversity program is in large part due to the six years Tim spent strengthening its foundation as the leader of our DE&IC. We look forward to building on that momentum and continuing to enhance our inclusive culture and community,” said Jones.

Key Contributors

Dexter J. Pearce
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