Throughout the world, countless law firms have been making an effort to create more inclusion and acceptance in their practices, utilizing a variety of innovative and unique methods to increase diversity in the workplace. These firms illustrate a myriad of procedures which we can employ to plant and grow seeds of diversity within our own organizations. A large amount of the diversity initiatives revolve around two main points: attracting and retaining talent. Here, we will explore what three firms are doing to recruit women, people of color, and other minorities.
In an effort to empower minority groups, many law firms create scholarships and fellowship programs for incoming law students, undergraduate students interested in law, and even high school students. The firm White and Case highlights this point with their program at Cristo Rey New York High School. Here, the firm allows high school students to work in their offices as a part of a Corporate Work Study Program, giving students the chance to gain experience at a nationally renowned firm and earn up to 70 percent of the cost of their education. These opportunities allow young struggling students to explore the environment of a firm while financially sustaining their educational endeavors. Additionally, firms like Winston and Strawn LLP have generously given over $565k in diversity scholarships to minority law students. By providing financial assistance, these firms take ownership in empowering individuals to follow through with their dreams of becoming a lawyer. These scholarship programs help to remove the economic burden and allow minority students to focus on their studies, leading to higher graduation rates for diverse students.
Alongside financial support, it is equally important to devote time to diverse law students and job applicants. Winston and Strawn LLP have illustrated their dedication through their Diverse Associate Sponsorship Program. This initiative connects high-potential minority and LGBTQ associates with sponsors from the firm’s Executive Committee. Through this process, individuals are given a chance to form connections and learn from senior-level partners, encouraging diversity in the upper ranks. Through this program, upper-level executives are also presented with the opportunity to form bonds with minority members of the firm, opening their eyes to potential struggles faced by these individuals. With this program, both parties gain invaluable experiences, growing from their connections with one another. Incoming diverse individuals receive valuable advice and unique advancement opportunities through this mentorship, boosting their careers and increasing diversity through the ranks of the firm.
Another method to increase diversity in the workplace is by participating in job fairs targeted towards minority groups. The firm Arnold and Porter demonstrates this through their involvement in diverse job fairs. This form of outreach encourages students of varied backgrounds to apply to law programs and firms, illuminating the possibility of a future in law to individuals who may have never previously considered it because of their race, religion, or gender. Here, organizations is intentional in creating connections with diverse students, learning more about their potential application pool. Local job fairs geared towards women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals provide a great point of contact for firms and diverse students. Law firms which utilize this opportunity form strong ties to the unique groups in their area, leading to a higher rate of diverse hires.
Community involvement is an integral way to continue to enhance the firm’s brand image, support local minority groups, create a lasting change, and increase diversity within the field of law. Arnold and Porter follow through with this initiative through their support of charitable and nonprofit organizations which focus on advancing rights for a variety of minority groups. By supporting these charities, whether through financial contributions or volunteering time and other resources, the firm generates a positive change in their community, furthering the lives of minority groups. Through this involvement, the law firm not only gains more recognition with women, people of color, and others in need, but also the whole community! This initiative is great for large and small law firms alike, as any attorney can volunteer time to local organizations, spurring a change in their surrounding environment, networking with valuable charities, and empowering minority members of the community.
Through these practices, law firms from around the nation have devoted their resources to increasing diversity and the pipeline of talent for recruitment. From long lists of scholarships dedicated to people of all nationalities, races, and religions to mentorship programs, these organizations place a high priority on hiring lawyers with unique backgrounds, experiences, and talents. It is important to focus on the moment, placing effort into empowering young minority individuals now in the hopes of creating a diverse pipeline! While all initiatives may not lead to diverse hires within a specific firm, these methods increase diversity across the industry, increasing inclusion and acceptance. The process of investing in minority and focusing on diverse hires is an instrumental part of increasing diversity. However, the topic of diversity entails much more than simply hiring a wide range of individuals, firms must also work on the retention of diverse attorneys. This requires a different set of methods, focused on maintaining and empowering minority groups throughout the law firm. We will discuss this topic and highlight more law firms taking steps towards retaining diversity in the next blog of the series.