Announcement of the Appointments of Femi Disu-Oakley and Bharati Narumanchi
TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2017

Seymour W. James, the Attorney-in-Chief, announced the appointment of Femi Disu-Oakley as Director of Diversity and Inclusion and the appointment of Bharati Narumanchi as Director of Recruitment.

Femi will assume her position as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion effective June 13, 2017. In her new position, Femi will be responsible for spearheading a variety of programs that will help enhance and promote diversity at Legal Aid, as well as oversee all aspects of the Society’s diversity policies, among other responsibilities.

Femi began her legal career in our Brooklyn office in October 2006. A graduate of St. Johns Law School, she has been honing her litigation and advocacy skills for over a decade at the Criminal Defense Practice (CDP). She has served as the Affirmative Action Representative on the Executive Board of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA) for five years. In that role, she has fought tirelessly to make progressive changes in our organization, including urging the creation of gender neutral bathrooms in each Legal Aid office, as well as addressing other necessary systemic changes within the Society.

As a member of Attorneys of Color at Legal Aid (ACLA), she has worked closely with management and the LGBTQI Caucus and on Legal Aid’s Joint Union-Management Affirmative Action and Diversity Committee. In the committee, she has addressed the various diversity needs of LAS, as well as being involved with the planning and creation of various diversity initiatives that have helped promote and enhance cultural competence within the Society. These initiatives included improving the tracking of diversity data for hiring classes within the Criminal Defense Practice, the ACLA mentoring program and creating diversity open houses for Law School students.

Femi has been a fierce advocate and has already helped promulgate significant changes to Legal Aid’s hiring and recruitment structure in order to attract increasingly diverse candidates. For years she has expanded the Society’s outreach efforts at recruitment and Law School events throughout the northeast. Additionally, she was involved in the task of reviewing and monitoring our pool of applicants to ensure the selection of a diverse class of new attorneys. She has also been deeply involved in the roll out process of anti-bias trainings within Legal Aid.

Bharati will assume the role of Director of Recruitment effective June 16, 2017. In this position, Bharati will handle all recruitment matters, helping to bring the best qualified recruits to the Legal Aid Society, and will work closely with Femi on diversity matters.

Bharati has a J.D. from CUNY School of Law and a LL.M. in Trial Advocacy from Temple University, Beasley School of Law. Bharati has been a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice (CDP) at Legal Aid since August 2004. She also held the position of Staff Attorney in the Anti-Gun Violence Unit (AGVU) in the Civil Practice from September 2013 to June 2014 and returned to the Criminal Practice after this assignment.

During her tenure, Bharati has gained recruitment experience by working closely with management and her colleagues in ACLA to develop practices aimed at finding a more diverse pool of attorneys. As the ACLA Representative, she partnered with the LGBTQI Caucus, the leadership of ALAA and Senior Staff to develop new events, address diversity issues, and suggest recruitment strategies. One of her proposals included launching what is now known as Legal Aid's Annual Diversity Open House.

Bharati also created the ACLA Summer Mentoring Program for law students of color. The mentoring program has significantly expanded since its inception in 2012, now mentoring nearly 45 students. Some of the duties to lift this initiative off the ground included tracking data, developing an evaluation tool for the Program, writing an annual report about the Program, developing outreach materials, planning events, and conducting exit interviews with interns. This Program represents another successful collaboration between ALAA and management.

She has direct experience with the recruitment and interviewing of prospective staff attorneys, having conducted numerous staff attorney interviews and On-Campus Interviews (OCI’s), and assisting in candidate interview scheduling for the Brooklyn CDP office. In addition, she also sat on the Criminal Defense Practice’s Intern Hiring Committee as a representative for the Brooklyn CDP office.

Mr. James said the work and dedication of both Femi and Bharati demonstrate a commitment to ensuring that we enhance our diversity initiatives and improve our recruitment efforts. Their new roles could not be more fitting for each of them. Please join me in congratulating them both!