COLUMBUS, Ohio (August 5, 2021) – Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, is pleased to announce its participation in the Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) program. SWEL’s mission is to provide racially diverse high school and college students interested in law with first-hand experience – and has long been a premier pipeline program supporting diverse talent. Littler’s support of the SWEL program comes at a pivotal time as the organization focuses on continuing to expand throughout Ohio.
As part of Littler’s commitment, the firm’s Columbus office is hosting SWEL Scholar Kayah Woodford this summer as a full-time intern. The firm’s association with the program runs deep: Lisa Kathumbi, shareholder in Columbus, was a SWEL Scholar herself and credits it as a transformative experience.
Kathumbi completed several SWEL summer internships as an undergraduate student, including with the late legal giant Nathaniel R. Jones at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. “Without a doubt, my experiences as a SWEL Scholar more than 20 years ago solidified my interest in becoming a lawyer and provided a pathway to my current career,” said Kathumbi. “I’m proud to be among the alumni of the program and to pay it forward by having Kayah work with us this summer.”
Littler’s Columbus office managing shareholder Kevin Griffith added: “In addition to supporting our firmwide commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity, this is a great opportunity for Littler to help champion the program in the Columbus community. We’re honored to be involved with such an important program and are thrilled to welcome such an outstanding scholar as Kayah.”
Developed in 1988 in Cincinnati, Ohio, SWEL is designed to foster academic, personal and professional growth through real-world legal experience, community service opportunities, internship placements and networking opportunities with legal professionals and law students. Through the legal internships and weekly SWEL forums and seminars, students gain exposure to legal career options and the law school application process. Since its inception, SWEL has made great strides in diversifying the legal community, offering more than 500 students experience and exposure to the world of law and helping to develop many highly successful law students, lawyers and judges.
“In the program’s 30 plus years, we’ve seen just how valuable it is to give Black and other racially diverse students the power of informed decision-making as they’re considering the next step in their careers. We’re honored to support emerging leaders at the beginning of their journeys,” said Kenneth Parker, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, SWEL alumnus and Chair of the program. “As we look to adopt this program in more cities and states across the country, I’m proud to see SWEL expand its footprint in Columbus and offer even more students in Ohio the opportunity to experience what a career in law can be.”
In addition to a full-time legal internship, SWEL scholars attend weekly SWEL sessions covering everything from LSAT prep and resume writing to the art of networking and other leadership competencies. The program’s selection process is rigorous. For her part, Kayah is a rising junior at Ohio State University with a 4.0 GPA and is an emerging leader in Ohio, having co-founded the Bexley Anti-Racism Project and the Bexley Minority Alumni Alliance.
“Cultivating diversity and inclusion begins with inviting more young people into the conversation and allowing them to see themselves in the places they’d like to be,” said Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, one of many judicial advocates of the SWEL program. “I firmly believe SWEL can serve as a model for diversity talent pipelines nationwide, and I look forward to continuing to support our scholars and the program’s expansion throughout Ohio and beyond.”
With more than 1,600 labor and employment attorneys in offices around the world, Littler provides workplace solutions that are local, everywhere. Our diverse global team and proprietary technology foster a culture that celebrates original thinking, delivering groundbreaking innovation that prepares employers for what’s happening today, and what’s likely to happen tomorrow.