Skip To Main Content
Rashida MacMurray-Abdullah ’91

Rashida MacMurray-Abdullah

Class of 1991 - MKA

As protests against racial injustice gained strength nationally this summer, Washington, D.C.-based Wiley Rein created a new Chief Diversity Officer position, bringing on former Deloitte consultant Rashida MacMurray-Abdullah.

MacMurray-Abdullah, an attorney who spent more than 12 years at Deloitte as a consultant to law firms and general counsel, said 2020 was an awakening of sorts for her, fueling her desire to further diversity and inclusion efforts in the legal profession. “I started to ask questions about what was missing in diversity and inclusion efforts in the legal industry,” she said in an interview. “My friends, who are now partners, showed me that the diversity numbers hadn’t really changed since I was a summer associate. I was surprised by that.” MacMurray-Abdullah felt that the best way to further progress in the industry was to actively seek out a law firm that was serious about making the necessary changes. Wiley fit the bill. “From the conversations I had [with Wiley leadership], it was clear they didn’t just start thinking about this.” she said. “I know they are thrilled to have this role and are excited about it across the firm.”  

MacMurray-Abdullah will have the ear of managing partner Peter Shields, she said. And she plans to start her tenure at the firm with a “listening tour” to learn exactly what is working around D&I efforts and where improvements are needed. “I believe in listening to what the attorneys and staff are saying,” she said. “We won’t be tied to existing programs and will take the time to understand where growth needs to happen.” MacMurray-Abdullah said nationwide protests, which peaked over the summer but are certainly not out of mind, provide a unique opportunity for all organizations to take steps in their D&I efforts that may not have gained traction only a few years ago. “As a country and as a people, we are seeing a different side of people,” she said. “There is a sense of urgency now—2020 has become a year of vision.” She said the efforts around D&I will not just be for attorneys, either, and that listening to and acting on behalf of business professionals within the firm is part of her plan. Wiley is somewhat late to the game in creating a diversity-focused role in the C-suite, compared with some of its peer firms. MacMurray-Abdullah said the entire C-suite in the legal business is still evolving. “It isn’t a matter of being late,” she said. “But rather a continuing evolution [of] the conversation around diversity and inclusion.”

“Rashida is an extraordinary communicator with the ability to lead, engage key stakeholders, and empower diverse teams during challenging times, and we are excited to have her join us,” Anna Gomez, partner in the telecom, media and technology practice and Chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, said in a statement. Wiley was one of more than 200 law firms that signed on to the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance in early July. The firm said in its press release that the events of the summer were foundational to creating the position MacMurray- Abdullah now occupies. “It is our core belief that diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts must begin with mutual respect and an understanding that our differences make us stronger,” Shields said in a statement. “Now, at this pivotal moment in history, we are reaffirming our long-term commitment and dedicating additional resources to this mission."