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Diversity & Inclusion 2021: Quentin L. Jennings



The four-page open letter to his “Polsinelli family” is revelatory in its candor, anger, frustration, self-reflection and raw honesty.

jenningsWriting soon after the death of George Floyd in May 2020, Quentin Jennings opened up to thousands of colleagues about his own experiences as a Black lawyer and parent of two biracial children (the full letter can be read here).

He described being told to “become experts in your craft [because] race doesn’t matter,” the fear of repercussions for speaking out — what he termed the “Colin Kaepernick effect” — being pulled over for “driving while Black” and more.

The letter sparked a valuable and needed conversation at the firm, according to his colleagues, who in their nomination cite Jennings’ “leadership and dedication as an advocate for change in law firm culture.”

“He is a change agent and someone who is constantly pushing others to do better, think a different way or discuss alternative points of view,” his nominators say. “We are all better because of it.”

What motivates you most in your work as an attorney and as an advocate for Diversity & Inclusion?

Continually striving for an all-inclusive environment where all individuals feel they can contribute, be themselves, be treated equally and be in an environment that is not hostile. Being a catalyst for organizational change to foster alliances and coalitions to build greater diversity, equity and inclusion in our firm. This will only enhance the ability to unlock my colleagues’ potential, which creates a culture where everyone can advance and thrive.

What makes you most proud of your law firm/legal practice? 

As leaders, we each have an obligation to stand for what is right, promote a diverse and inclusive environment and listen to the varying perspectives to encourage open dialogue to hopefully ignite meaningful change. Polsinelli has given me and others within the firm a platform to voice our perspectives and promoted an inclusive environment so we are comfortable having those uncomfortable, yet meaningful conversations around bias, diversity and inclusion. This is especially important, given the current state of our nation.

What goal remains unfulfilled for you as an attorney and advocate for Diversity & Inclusion? 

Increasing awareness and diversifying our firm. It’s very discouraging as a minority to see management teams that look the same, as they are likely to think the same and carry the same biases. That’s why it’s so important to strive for diversity at every level of our firm, so we have diverse perspectives being shared and focusing on a common goal of increasing representation at the management and leadership level.

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you:

I am an avid bowler and love a great night of karaoke!  Songs of choice: “Poison” (Bell Biv DeVoe) and “Little Red Corvette” (Prince).

2021 Diversity & Inclusion Awards