New Pipeline Program Aims to Diversify the Industry's Legal Sector
Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) launched the inaugural Diversity Pipeline Program, which is designed to support the recruitment and development of diverse law students interested in pursuing careers in technology, media, and telecommunications law and policy. As an anchor employer participant in the program, NCTA takes pride in the active role that the cable industry plays in promoting diversity in the workforce and in the leadership ranks. This new program, which focuses on the legal sector of the industry, is another step forward towards achieving a more equal and inclusive workforce that better represents America.
NCTA Vice President & Associate General Counsel Svetlana Gans is a co-chair of the program and became involved early on in its formation. "This field really represents cross cutting and exciting issues, and it's imperative that we have an inclusive and diverse workforce weighing in on those issues. We need to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to excel in this profession," said Gans. "For me personally, I didn't really have a background in this field or connections when I first started. I know the importance of having mentoring, access, and a solid knowledge base when starting out in this profession." (Gans also runs the Antitrust Law Student Ambassador Program for the American Bar Association.)
"A lot of pipeline programs out there focus on young lawyers, but this is our way of taking it a step even before that," added Gans. Currently, there are 19 employers participating, which include law firms as well as NCTA members Charter and Comcast NBCUniversal. Comcast Vice President for Global Public Policy and Counsel Rudy Brioché and Cox Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Barry Ohlson also serve as the program's co-chairs along with Gans. As of January 15, 100 students had applied to the inaugural Pipeline Program. In addition to Gans, NCTA Vice President & Associate General Counsel Danielle Piñeres and NCTA Vice President of Human Resources Simone Logan are assisting with resume review. "The student interest has been phenomenal, which is a testament to the program's need and importance."
Gans spent last fall developing relationships with law schools and identifying students who might be interested in acting as law student ambassadors for the program on their campuses. She also conducted outreach to prospective employer participants, and is helping to build out the academic component of the program. The curriculum will not only cover substantive law and policy topics, but also critical skills such as interviewing. Over the next two months, the committee will select applicants and go through the employer matching process before training kicks off in the spring. Selected students will begin their summer internships in May.
In a webinar that introduced law students to the FCBA Pipeline Diversity program, NCTA President & CEO Michael Powell offered the following remarks to the next generation of telecommunications and technology lawyers: "Not only is this profession good for you, you are needed by the profession more than ever. Some of the most taxing and challenging questions being generated in the Digital Age have yet to be fully answered or even identified." Powell talked about the importance of having a diverse workforce as the market and as regulations evolve, and about cultivating employees who are focused on shrinking inequality in the technology industry.
"The Information Age is the first great epoch that holds genuine promise for black and brown people to share in its fruits and riches," continued Powell. "My ancestors were picking cotton in the Agricultural Age and were left out. And they were legally segregated in the Industrial Age, and again left out. The Information Age provides the first real chance to get in. While plenty of obstacles remain for minorities and women (I might add), one can see the viability of success more clearly than ever before.”