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African-American Law Firm Elects Unusual CEO

Posted Jun 2, 2010 6:33 AM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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Detroit-based firm Lewis & Munday, which was founded in 1972 by David Baker Lewis and two African-American partners, named partner Blair Person as its new president and CEO this month. While the firm, which is majority-owned by black lawyers, says race never came up in discussions to replace Lewis, some might find it curious to learn that Person is white.

A focus on race, according to partner Reuben Munday, is too often used "to separate and divide people and regions, to play politics with differences that are not particularly meaningful," reports the Detroit Free Press.

"We don't want to represent that," Munday said. "We want to represent just the opposite of that, with people like Blair who we've worked with for over 20 years and know as family."

Person, 54, joined Lewis & Munday in the 1980s, where he was the fourth or fifth white attorney at what was then a firm of 13 lawyers. While many traditional African-American-owned firms focused on criminal work and personal matters such as divorces and evictions, Lewis & Munday represented civil and corporate clients. Person said that suburban attorneys at the time told him, "Very little happens in the city of Detroit that that firm isn't involved in.”

They said, “You ought to take that job and they will teach you something, and that proved to be very true."

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