TRAILBLAZING MINORITY ATTORNEY ADVOCACY GROUP “SHADES OF MASS” TO HOST CONFERENCE IN ATLANTA TO HELP INCREASE DIVERSITY IN LEADERSHIP OF MASS TORT LITIGATIONS

The First Annual Shades of Mass Conference will bring together attorneys of color and allies to provide mentorship, advocacy, networking, and educational opportunities to help bridge the gap in the representation of attorneys of color in leadership roles in mass tort litigation.

ATLANTA (Aug. 3, 2022) – The First Annual Shades of Mass Conference will be held on August 5-7, 2022, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, featuring special guests: Honorable Cedric Richmond, Senior Advisor to the White House and Director of Public Engagement in the Biden Administration; Honorable Lucy McBath of the U.S. House of Representatives, 6th Congressional District, Georgia, Honorable Kwame Raoul, Attorney General of Illinois; and entertainment by hip hop artist, Doug E. Fresh.

The Shades of Mass founders are Ben Crump – Ben Crump Law, the legendary lawyer that represented the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, and Breonna Taylor; Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann – Dicello Levitt Gutzler, an acclaimed product liability and civil rights lawyer, and the first Black woman appointed to lead in a multidistrict litigation, having served in many other leadership capacities in MDL, class and other significant litigation. The founding executive committee members are: Navan Ward, Jr. – Beasley Allen Law Firm, an experienced products liability lawyer and the first black male appointed to lead a multidistrict litigation and the minority attorney appointed to the most mass tort multidistrict litigation leadership positions; LaRuby Z. May – May Lightfoot, who is currently serving in a leadership role for a major multidistrict litigation; Gregory Cade – Environmental Litgiation Group, who has litigated multiple significant environmental mass tort litigations; and Larry Taylor, Jr. – The Cochran Firm Texas, who is currently serving in a leadership position for a consolidated state court mass tort litigation.

The groundbreaking advocacy organization aims to pave the way for attorneys of color to get involved and hold leadership positions in mass tort litigations that disproportionally impact communities of color.

The conference will feature a full roster of acclaimed attorney speakers presenting on topics such as Setting Up Your Mass Torts Practice, Nuts and Bolts of Mass Torts, General and Specific Causation, Effective Use of Media to Advance Mass Tort Claims and more. Attendees will have the opportunity to network, build relationships, and discuss opportunities with the most esteemed lawyers of color and their allies in the country. Navan Ward noted, “We are excited to share valuable insight on an area of law that minority attorneys have been excluded from regarding leadership positions and/or general involvement in litigating matters on behalf of injured victims.” Ben Crump added, “Our goal is to break the mold of the current mass litigation leadership model to remedy the lack of diversity and allow attorneys of color to uplift and defend their own communities.” “It is time for a change. As experienced attorneys of color, we are in the best position to shepherd in a new era for our clients and for our profession, and we are honored and humbled to do so,” asserted Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann.

Along with the founding executive committee members, Shades of Mass will also introduce its inaugural board of directors at the annual meeting. These brilliant legal minds have extensive experience in mass tort litigation: Ronald A. Austin, Khaldoun Baghdadi, MJ Blakely, Courtney French, Marlon Kimpson, Danielle Mason, Shreedhar R. Patel, Jose Rojas and Carl Soloman. These attorneys are spearheading the call to action to get more attorneys of color involved in mass torts litigation, as well as more appointments to lead these litigations that impact communities of color.

“Communities of color are exploited and harmed by predatory corporations on a massive scale,” said LaRuby May. “Yet very few attorneys of color are given the opportunity to lead in the fight to obtain justice in these cases.

An average of only 5% of case leadership appointments go to nonwhite attorneys, according to Law.com. In contrast, mass tort litigations addressing product defects, device malfunction, and environmental hazards often disproportionally affect people of color. “Shades of Mass was created to address this glaring disparity,” said Ward.

“There are countless attorneys of color who have everything it takes to lead these mass tort litigations and more,” said Greg Cade. “They also have a fire inside them that burns close to home and fuels them to protect their own communities. The only barrier left to break is the misconception that they don’t have what it takes.”

“The need for diversity and inclusion is a moral and economic decision,” said Larry Taylor, Jr. “The brilliant and rich talents brought to a case, by having a more diverse team of lawyers, only goes to enhance the outcomes for the clients and practice.”

On top of powerful presentations on mass tort litigation and breaking barriers, the conference will offer valuable networking opportunities and entertainment, with the Shades of Mass Party featuring a performance from rapper Doug E. Fresh kicking off Saturday at 10:00 pm (EDT). There will be CLE credits available for the conference.

Special thanks to Stifel Financial Corp. and Epiq for supporting Shades of Mass at the highest sponsorship level as “Diversity Champion” sponsors. These sponsors, along with the many other sponsors, will add to the valuable information and experience that attendees will have at this conference.

For more information about The First Annual Shades of Mass Conference and increasing diversity in the participation and leadership of mass tort litigations, visit https://www.shadesofmass.org/.

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