As part of our diversity initiative, Pepper established a mentoring program for
all minority associates, and, due to its success, expanded it to all associates.
Because we also believe that valuable mentoring and networking occur outside of
the firm, we sponsor our attorneys’ membership in affinity bar organizations.
On Mentoring and Diversity
Kassem L. Lucas came to Pepper as a summer associate, one of his first
experiences was discovering there was always someone willing to lend a helping hand.
Now a partner with the firm, Kassem is a member of the firm’s Commercial
Insurance & Reinsurance Practice Group and is vice chair of the Diversity Committee. He possesses the full perspective of mentor and protégé:
When I first arrived at Pepper, I was told that to be successful, you need a mentor
- someone who will look after you at the firm. I found a mentor who has provided
excellent guidance over the past 10 years. Certainly, as the years have passed,
I’ve spent more time mentoring than being mentored. Having a mentor, even
as a young partner at Pepper, is still positive. In the beginning, obviously, it was
very basic – here is how to be a good lawyer. Now the mentoring I receive focuses
on how to be a good manager.
P. Wilczak, a partner and head of our Environmental Practice Group in
Detroit, is the former president of Affirmations, Southeast Michigan's Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Community Center. Tom, who joined Pepper
as an associate in 1986 and was elected to the partnership in 1993, notes:
As a young attorney, it would have been easy for me to sit in my office and keep
my nose to the grindstone. I realized, however, that it was important to put myself
out there … to move outside my comfort zone and seek advice and build relationships
with partners and associates who did not necessarily share my background or views.
I had several great mentors throughout my years as an associate. I realized that
it’s important to have mentors both inside and outside of your practice group. Internally,
it helps to build relationships with the attorneys within your group. Externally,
it helps to broaden your perspective. Both formal and informal mentors are extremely