Mentoring, and Educational Organization to Promote Diversity in Mass Tort and Complex Tort Litigation Leadership

Feb 28, 2022

Today, attorneys Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann and Ben Crump announce the co-founding of Shades of Mass, a non-profit organization promoting diversity in leadership of mass tort and complex tort lawsuits that disproportionately impact diverse communities.

Statistics show that only 5% of multidistrict litigation (MDL) leadership appointments go to non-white attorneys, despite the disproportionate impact that product defects, device malfunctions, and environmental hazards cause communities of color. “The lack of attorneys of color playing significant roles in high-stakes litigation that impacts communities of color is undeniable,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.

Debrosse Zimmerman and Crump are determined to increase both visibility and opportunities for Black and Brown attorneys seeking leadership positions in mass tort and complex tort litigations through Shades of Mass.

As one of the few attorneys of color who has been appointed to prominent MDL leadership positions, Debrosse Zimmermann has seen firsthand the stark absence of fellow qualified Black and Brown attorneys in leadership positions in those cases. “We are going to be very intentional about overcoming each of the barriers that have stood in the way of lawyers of color being appointed to lead these cases, including the implicit bias that ‘Black and Brown lawyers don’t have what it takes to successfully lead,’” she promised.

Not only will Shades of Mass advocate for diversity in leadership appointments, but it will also provide mentorship, networking, and education resources for attorneys of color and serve as a resource for judges who understand the importance of appointing Black and Brown attorneys to important leadership positions.

The elite roster of attorneys on the Shades of Mass Executive Board substantiates the need and opportunity Debrosse Zimmermann and Crump identified in the industry. Executive Board Members include:

  • Gregory Cade, Environmental Litigation Group, P.C.
  • LaRuby May, May Lightfoot, PLLC
  • Larry Taylor, The Cochran Firm
  • Navan Ward, Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., and President of the American Association for Justice

“No one is going to bring more passion to these causes than attorneys who resemble the communities they’re fighting for,” Crump said. “And there are many, many non-white attorneys who have the expertise and experience to lead MDL cases. It’s high time for them to be seen and heard from.” 

For more information on Shades of Mass, visit www.shadesofmass.org.