Rick is extraordinarily committed to ushering in social change
and equality under the law,” says Jo-Ann Wallace, president and
CEO of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. “He truly walks
the walk when it comes to equal access to justice and opportunity.”
misunderstanding of the importance of breakfast
cereals in the diet. We as an industry haven’t done
a good enough job of educating the public and the
government on how good breakfast cereals are for you.
“The popular wisdom on the amount of sugar
in presweetened cereals is just plain wrong,” he
continues. “We believe cereal is one of the healthiest
breakfast choices you can make. Ready-to-eat cereals
account for only about 4 percent of total caloric
intake, while delivering much higher proportions of a
number of important nutrients.”
PALMORE IS NOT ONE TO SEEK THE SPOTLIGHT,
but doesn’t shy from taking a strong public stance
on diversity in the legal field. He gained attention
as the first African-American to make partner at
Wildman Harrold, and while at Sara Lee, he steered
the company’s business away from outside law firms
with low diversity marks. Then he wrote A Call to
Action—Diversity in the Legal Profession, a document
in which he encouraged corporate legal officers to
push for increased diversity when retaining outside
counsel. About 120 counsel, many with Fortune
500 companies, pledged to take corporate diversity
efforts into account when hiring outside firms.
“I was in a place to potentially have an impact,”
Palmore says. “So I felt some responsibility to foster
An outgrowth of Palmore’s manifesto was the
Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), now a
2-year-old nonprofit whose aim is to challenge the
legal profession to foster and encourage diversity.
Growth is good, Palmore says, but the problem
hasn’t been solved. “I’m happy with the progress
that LCLD has made,” he says. “I’m not happy about
the progress of diversity in this profession.”
The lingering problem, Palmore maintains, is that
companies and people have gotten used to thinking
of diversity as an issue to be addressed once and
then shunted aside. “It’s not, especially not in today’s
world,” he says. “It goes to the heart of the talent issue
for organizations. In an increasingly diverse world, the
issue is just going to get bigger and bigger. In a lot of
respects, diversity is just the canary in the coal mine.
“If you’re an associate at a law firm, you’re
interested in whether you’re valued, and whether
you’re invested in, whether your talents are being
developed and showcased,” he continues. “If
that’s not happening, you’re not happy and you
become disaffected, and you either put up with
it or leave. Those issues may affect diverse talent
disproportionately, but they affect everybody.”
Palmore’s work in this area has drawn praise and
recognition, including the Corporate Exemplar Award
from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association
in 2007. Jo-Ann Wallace, president and CEO of the
association, says the honor was well-earned.
PALMORE AND HIS WIFE, LYNNE, LIVE IN THE
St. Anthony neighborhood of Minneapolis, and keep a
home in Chicago. The couple has two grown children:
daughter, Jordan, just began work as an attorney,
while son, Adam, works in human resources for an
energy company in Chicago.
Palmore is a voracious reader (his most recent
memorable read: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom) who
stays in shape with running, golf, tennis and boxing.
He plays the piano, an instrument he took up seven
years ago, and enjoys playing classical pieces as well
as pop and jazz standards. He even joined the board
of Minneapolis’ MacPhail Center for Music when
the search for a new piano teacher led him to that
academy. “The piano is relaxing, challenging and just
a lot of fun,” he says.
But at work, the fight goes on every day: poring
over regulatory documents, helping shepherd
international growth, and playing watchdog to the
brands that helped General Mills earn $12 billion in
revenue last year in the United States alone.
Despite the vastness of what’s at stake in his work,
Palmore recognizes that the company wouldn’t
be where it is without the same quiet, work-based
virtues that helped get him where he is.
“General Mills is a Midwestern company in just
about every respect, especially when it comes to
having a high degree of humility,” he says. “It’s not a
company that trumpets itself.”
AT TORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAW YERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 9.