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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Eckhardt_Michael-December 2019-CROPPED
Michael J. Eckhardt
SVP, Chief Risk Officer,
General Counsel & Secretary
Wawa, Inc.

Dear ACC Greater Philadelphia Members and Friends:

The first quarter of 2021 was filled with great substantive and social programming and strong attendance from the Chapter’s 1,700 plus members.  We cannot thank our volunteer practice and social chairs enough for all the time they, along with our Chapter Administrators, Chris Stewart and Joanne Ray, and sponsors put into planning and delivering the events.  Below are some of the highlights since January.  

The Chapter’s Board kicked off the year in January with a special session led by our friends from Dechert where we discussed the Chapter’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging journey.  Dechert litigation partner, Sozi Tulante, and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Satra Sampson-Arokium, led a workshop as to the characteristics of an inclusive leader and presented case studies on sound judgment and good business decisions. The Chapter’s leadership looks forward to continuing the conversation as to how the Chapter can promote and advance the goals of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for the benefit of the Chapter’s members, sponsors, the legal profession, and the greater Philadelphia community.  On this front, the Chapter’s leadership is also in the final phases of creating the Chapter’s initial Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging vision and mission statement, which we will share on our website in the coming months.

Our sponsors hosted over 15 substantive CLE programs in the first quarter, including our 3rd Annual GC/CLO Summit, with a focus on Diversity and Inclusion.  Our sponsors from Cozen O’Connor, Faegre Drinker and Dechert led discussions with over 70 General Counsel and Chief Legal Officers on topics including diversity in the Boardroom, compliance efforts related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and the positive impact of diverse teams in litigation and regulatory investigations.  We concluded the Summit with a social hour and the Chapter donated $3,000 to the Chapter’s Diversity Internship Program.  Our Meet Your Counterparts (MYC) events hosted by Troutman Pepper, Stevens & Lee and Hogan Lovells were attended by over 200 members, and notably the Stevens & Lee MYC in February celebrated Black History Month by learning how to cook with spices.  We thank Troutman Pepper and Hogan Lovells for providing attendees with wine for the wine tasting events and Stevens & Lee for providing the spices for the cooking demo.  We are in the final phases of matching 19 diversity interns with 18 member companies for the Chapter’s 13th annual Diversity Summer Internship Program.

The IHCC Committee provided two great days of substantive and social programming, including a keynote session from Adam Grant, a bestselling author and current professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who presented on organizational psychology.  All attendees will receive Adam’s new book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know as well as other great items from our sponsors in a “swag” box to be received in the coming weeks.  The IHCC featured a lunch, “The Art of the Lunch” with the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (PVLA) and The Philadelphia Dance Company.  This lunch was an exciting mix of performing arts, pro bono and legal education.  The performance was followed by remarks from Joan Myers Brown, the founder of Philadanco! and nationally-renowned icon and visionary leader in African-American dance.

We have postponed the Spring Fling scheduled for May.  We continue to monitor CDC guidance and our members’ comfort level with in-person events and mitigation measures such as mask wearing and social distancing.  Thank you for participating in the recent member survey.  The survey showed that 70% of our members prefer the virtual CLE option – and this does not appear likely to change unless the relevant state bar associations re-institute the prior virtual CLE limitations.  This result is not surprising based on the current remote work situation of many of our members.  Interestingly, 60% of members also said they would like to see a mixture of in-person and virtual CLE presentations.  In-person CLE events, however, may be a more difficult proposition than an in-person social event, because almost half of our surveyed members prefer any in-person event to be held outside which adds an additional complication to the CLE presentation. Based on the survey, we believe that attendance at in-person MYC events may be substantially similar to in-person MYC events before the pandemic began.  We will host our first in-person event since March 2020 on May 20th with a Meet Your Counterparts at Estia in Radnor, hosted by Ogletree Deakins.  

We continue to develop plans to engage our members in different ways, in both virtual and in person environments, reaching out to new members, hosting quarterly new member meetings and planning “meet your leadership” type events throughout the remainder of the year.  Our goal is to create more touchpoints for our members to meet with and get to better know the Chapter’s leadership.

Our Board of Directors and Officers are here to serve you—we welcome your feedback, your ideas, your input, and most of all your involvement.  You can reach me directly at michael.eckhardt@wawa.com or 610.358.8044.  We look forward to seeing you (virtually and in-person) and we sincerely hope you will take full advantage of the many benefits and become actively engaged in the wonderful opportunities that our Chapter has planned as we continue to move through 2021!

Warmest regards,

Michael Eckhardt
President
ACC Greater Philadelphia

ACC

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