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Heels of Justice

May 23, 2019

Welcome to Heels of Justice; these are the stories of women lawyers who are trailblazers in their field and paved the way for the rest of us.

Today, the Heels of Justice interview Maja Hazell is the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at White & Case. She oversees the Firm’s global diversity and inclusion strategy as a member of the Business Services Leadership team.

She has led diversity and inclusion and career development initiatives for over twelve years, working for law firms, Fried Frank LLP, as their Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, as an associate. She also served as an Assistant Dean for Career Development at Pace University School of Law.


Key Takeaways

[0:30] Sarita welcomes Maja to the Heels of Justice podcast and asks her to talk about what being head of diversity and inclusion means.

[1:15] Considering the increasing resources being invested in diversity and inclusion practices in general, Maja shares the purpose of her role in the organization.

[2:47] Sarita asks Maja to break down what the good, the bad, and the ugly are; what is the state of diversity is in the legal profession.

[2:58] The good! There is an increase in awareness and the numbers are there in terms of interest for the profession; the question becomes how do they fare once they get in.

[4:25] The bad mainly resides in talent management practices; how do we assign and evaluate work but also in the “star-making” ethos that firms historically perpetuate.

[8:27] How do talent management practices and actionable feedback play out in real life? Maja talks about the necessary underpinnings on which a successful D&I practice hinges.

[10:33] The ugly is what keeps Maja up at night about the world: backlash.

[12:31] How does Maja approach people who do have that resistance to inclusion and diversity.

[14:26] Maja gives some examples of what she might advise a person to do — even when they’re afraid she’ll ask them to “act like a man”!

[18:06] Maja supports leaders for them to become better leaders and she is passionate about helping women navigate the professional environment.

[19:21] Sarita asks what drives Maja to do this work and how she discovered this passion to help the underdog when she first learned about the civil rights movement and the role lawyers played. She also shares some of her formative work experiences.

[28:07] Maja talks about how she advocates for herself: you need to get a good idea of who you are and what you bring to the table and don’t be too attached to the outcome.

[30:57] Sarita asks Maja what her mantra is and thanks her for sharing so much of her experience on the Heels of Justice podcast and she signs off until next time.


That’s it for this episode of Heels of Justice; if you like the stories we’re telling, please visit our website. You can join our mailing list, learn more about our guests, and see what we have planned for the future.

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Disclaimer: The opinions you have heard are ours or our guest’s alone. They’re not the opinions of our employers, or our clients, or our bosses, and not our husbands, kids or pets, or anyone else’s.


More about the Heels of Justice hosts Sarita Venkat, and Katherine Minarik

Heels of Justice on the Web

Heels of Justice on Twitter

Heels of Justice on Instagram

Heels of Justice on Facebook


Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on Twitter

Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge


More about our guest

Maja Hazell at White & Case

Maja Hazell on LinkedIn

Maja Hazell on Twitter


Personal Stories (edited)

“I was showing up for a huge diligence trip on a matter in Minnesota; at the airport, I saw someone who was clearly a rep for the client so I introduced myself saying I was really excited to work on the case, and this unfriendly man looked me up and down and said “Oh! You’re from this firm?... Is anyone else coming?” — Clearly he thought a lawyer from a white shoe, 100-year-plus law firm could not possibly be a little black girl from the Bronx, and he didn’t feel the need to hide his reaction — I was so deflated and felt so awful that when I went back to the hotel I called my assigned partner-mentor and I told him what happened, he replied “Listen Maja, he’s an a**hole, you’re there to do a job and I know you, you are going to be great at that job.” He just affirmed me and built me back up.”