December 27, 2022

Biglaw to Big Impact

Jahmila Williams


1Huddle’s Jahmila Williams on What Inclusion Should Mean

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer.

Where I grew up, most families looked like mine: single parent households with moms who worked long hours, and dads, somewhere, but not in the picture. 

All my friends’ moms were teachers, mine was a social worker– none were lawyers; but I was precocious and outspoken, and the adults in my life told me that if I kept it up, and stopped trying to litigate my way out of homework, I might make a decent attorney. 

And, for a while, I did.

But, like 85% of minority female attorneys at large firms in the U.S., within 7 years of passing the bar exam, I stopped practicing law.

Now, as Director of Social Impact at 1Huddle, I wonder: If I had had access to something like our platform, all those years ago, would I still be working as a lawyer today?

It’s complicated, but, as I’ve observed from the vantage of my current role, not that complicated. 

For all the conversations that we’ve had as a country about social justice; all the books written about anti-racist babies and white fragility; what a “racial reckoning” might look like and what it should seek to accomplish; the thing we talk about the least was what I needed the most as a Black associate at a top law firm, and what many, across industries, are still deprived of today: Inclusion. 

When I started at Ropes & Gray, I entered into a profession with explicit and implicit rules; A place where the most important skills were ones that couldn’t be learned on my own – and where those lucky enough to receive mentorship kept what they were taught to themselves. 

Law firms typically assign first year associates to a mentor, someone capable of introducing them to diverse work assignments and coaching them through the realities of what it means to practice law.

I was first assigned a third year. She had mentored me when I was a summer associate and was one of the few (if not the only) Black associates in her year. 

It would have been a good fit–  had she stayed.

But after a few weeks she became hard to find. It was months before they told me she had “moved on.” 

My next mentor was another woman of color, this time a second year associate, too busy trying to navigate the complexities of Biglaw to help me.

Like me, she was also in between mentors.

In fact, it wasn’t clear if she’d ever actually been provided one.

She received no training to train me with, no resources, and no institutional support to guide or advise her. How was she expected to help me?

We were in the same boat, and both without a paddle. It was just that she had been in that boat a little longer. 

The only training I received defaulted to the Continuous Legal Education (CLE) seminars that the law firm hosted to ensure associates remained compliant with the ABA requirements.  

There, over sandwiches, we slogged through powerpoints whose topics were on anything and everything – except for the skills I needed to prepare for the work to come.

5 years passed.

I did everything I had thought was expected of me, received “good” performance reviews, and attended affinity group meetings where I was even told that straightening my hair might help me fit in. What I never received was the training or coaching to help me get to the next level.

The reality was that I was not going to make partner. 


You can’t have Diversity or Equity without Inclusion. 

And if the goal is truly to effect change, “inclusion” must mean that new hires are welcomed into a process that prepares them to advance– with or without a mentor. 

Back when I didn’t know any lawyers, I imagined the job was something like what my mom did as a social worker, connecting her clients to the services they needed not just to survive, but to thrive. 

Years later, I no longer practice law, but that is exactly what I get to do. 

At 1Huddle, I get to work with non profit organizations committed to leveling the playing field by providing development opportunities to those who need them most. From our partners at The All Stars Project of NJ that teaches young people to develop themselves through performance theory, to our work with community pillars like Covenant House NJ and New Jersey Reentry Corporation, what we do is so much bigger than just  gifting  our platform and services.

I now work for a company that has made a mission of addressing the lack of mentorship, not just for the C-Suite, not just for managers, but for every worker – a mission we take so seriously, that we contribute over $1 million, or 11% of what we take in annually, to our partner  organizations. 

As Social Impact Director I work hand in glove with our clients, helping them use our platform so it can do what it was designed to: break down silos, distribute learning from the ground up, and make advancement possible.

Our platform is designed to work the way that many companies – and most law firms– do not. 

Workers shouldn’t need a manager to access learning, that’s why with 1Huddle it’s at their fingertips.

For me, coming from a profession where mentors worked as gatekeepers to advancement, connecting and empowering some while blocking others, the power of our platform to do good feels profound: Play is permissionless – and there is no better vehicle for inclusion than that.

About 1Huddle

1Huddle is a coaching and development platform that uses quick-burst mobile games to more quickly and effectively educate, elevate, and energize your workforce — from frontline to full-time.

With a mobile-first approach to preparing the modern worker, a mobile library of 3,000+ quick-burst employee skill games, an on-demand game marketplace that covers 16 unique workforce skill areas, and the option for personalized content, 1Huddle is changing the way organizations think about their training – from a one-time boring onboarding experience to a continuous motivational tool. 

Key clients include Loews Hotels, Novartis, Madison Square Garden, PIMCO, TAO Group, and the United States Air Force. To learn more about 1Huddle and its platform, please visit

Jahmila Williams,

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