Talent Matters at
work/life options during recruitment interviews, and Gen-X
and Yers, who place a high value on community service and
personal time, appear to be paving the way for a change in
the legal profession as more baby boomers head toward
Meet Ivan K. Fong, chief legal officer and
secretary of Cardinal Health, a Fortune 20
company in the healthcare industry.
Born to immigrants from China,
Fong earned bachelor’s and master’s
degrees in chemical engineering from
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
before going to Stanford Law School
and Oxford. He clerked for a federal
appellate court judge and a Supreme
Court justice, and then made partner in a large
law firm before going to work for the Department of Justice. He left government service to
join General Electric as that company’s first chief
e-commerce and privacy counsel.
In late 2005, Fong moved to Cardinal Health to
head its legal department. Headquartered in Dublin,
Ohio, Cardinal Health, Inc. (NYSE: CAH) is an $87
billion global company that’s committed to making
the healthcare industry safer and more productive.
Fong credits his success in part to the mentors
and champions at each juncture of his career, and he
is quick to reach out to others to help them succeed.
He is involved in the company’s diversity and inclusion steering committee and in its minority leaders
network. Fong also helped form the company’s Asian
Pacific American network and is proud that more than
half of the lawyers at Cardinal Health are women or
people of color.
“Our practice is to have a diverse slate of candidates.
That’s part of our culture and evolution, and it’s also
become part of our DNA, the way we do things. That’s
a success and something to be celebrated. We cannot be
complacent, because we want to continue to be a leader
and model for other law departments and other Cardinal
Health functions,” says Fong. Cardinal Health has historically
had a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Both
are woven into Cardinal Health’s five core values:
being ethical, people-driven, performance-driven, innovative
“My philosophy is to cast a wide net so we can hire the
best talent,” Fong says. “I believe having a diverse law department makes us more effective as an organization and helps us
attract and retain the best talent.”
THE HIGH PRICE OF BRAIN DRAIN
The cost of losing a two-year associate can range
from $200,000 and $500,000, reports PAR. This figure
excludes the hidden costs of client dissatisfaction, lost
business when attorneys leave and loss of morale. At
the same time, the number of female associates exit-
ing law firms reached a record high over the past five
years, with a cumulative attrition rate of 19 percent,
according to NALP.
“There are a lot of costs attached to having a kind of
revolving door for women who are being pushed out
because either they can’t handle the 70-hour week…or
because they’re not being fully challenged at work,” says
Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding president of the Center
for Work-Life Policy.
Law firms that are open to new ideas and willing to
challenge outdated notions and stereotypes, however,
are avoiding the high costs of turnover. The most suc-
cessful are “creative in finding ways to make life easier
for young lawyers,” says Sandra S. Yamate, director of
The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the
Profession at the American Bar Association (ABA).
The result: “You get better work out of them and
you get better lawyers.”
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