Kenneth G. Standard, partner - Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., New York City
Kenneth G. Standard found few job opportunities after he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1962. “The opportunities for minority lawyers, and especially Black lawyers, were very limited,” he recalls.
His first career stop was at the New York office of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and after that the New York Telephone Co. Some years later he moved to Bristol-Myers Co., where he eventually became vice president and senior counsel of the products division. His next position was director of the office of legal services in New York City’s school system, followed by the post of assistant general counsel at Consolidated Edison Co. The latter move marked his entry into labor and employment law.
Two years ago, Standard joined Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., a general practice law firm with more than 380 attorneys in 11 offices nationwide. In addition to being the firm’s general counsel and thus responsible for its legal issues, he heads its national diversity committee. Standard was equally accomplished outside of his formal employment. He was the first president of color of the Harvard Club of New York City and the second president of color of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA). Also, as a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, Standard is leading a project to record the oral histories of minority pioneers in the legal profession. The ABA plans to use the tapes as teaching tools, he says, “because our youth need to know what this country was like, the progress that has been made over the years and why we have to remain vigilant.” Standard also chairs NYSBA’s youth outreach committee, which seeks to encourage young people to stay in school and to realize that they, too, can become lawyers.
Standard says he plans to retire in the next five to ten years. When he does retire, his commitment to diversity will be a big part of his legacy. “I believe the most important thing we can do with our lives is make a difference in the lives of others,” he says.
By Soroya Brantley