Diversity News Digest

August 15, 2014

Welcome to this week’s Diversity Dish, and Happy Friday! This week’s Diversity Dish features an article highlighting the important role that diversity initiatives can have in helping to create opportunities for diverse attorneys, an opportunity to be involved in next year’s Diversity Summit and a personal note from Courtney. Enjoy this week’s Diversity Dish, Happy Friday and if you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @CourtneyDredden.

8.11.14 Miriam Edelstein writes in The Legal Intelligencer about how a diversity initiative helped open doors and shape her career. Edelstein took part in the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group Fellows Program as a 1L and the experience completely changed the stereotypes she had about BigLaw and also shaped her career. “The PDLG Fellows Program offers the opportunity for diverse 1L students to apply for summer associate positions in large, top-tier law firms as well as internships in sophisticated corporate legal departments, with the goal of retaining diverse attorneys in the Philadelphia area once they graduate from our many area law schools.” The Program was a catalyst for Edelstein, who ended up joining the firm she secured a summer internship with and working there for over seven years. Edelstein reflected: “Without a doubt, the PDLG Fellows Program was the origin point for the trajectory of my legal career. To my best recollection, I had no intention of even applying for jobs at larger firms, or to aim for a career in any corporate environment, before I became involved with the PDLG. Diversity initiatives like the PDLG and employee resource and affinity groups are critical in opening the doors of opportunity for diverse attorneys. But, equally important, they also drive home the message that diverse attorneys are welcome, not merely permitted, to work in all echelons of the legal community.”

Submit Your Great Ideas and Programs for the 2015 Diversity and Inclusion Summit
NALP and ALFDP invite you to participate in the first ever request for proposals for the 2015 Diversity and Inclusion Summit, to be held on June 12, 2015 in Chicago. We are seeking exciting and innovative diversity programs, and are especially interested in programming from employers and law schools who would like to share best practices and successful D&I programs. We would also like to hear from consultants and others in the business with cutting edge information to share with our attendees, partners or other experts with a special focus on diversity issues, and diversity professionals who would like to share programming ideas and other information.

On a personal note, my last day as the NALP / Street Law Legal Pipeline Program Fellow is next Friday and this is my last Diversity Dish. Thank you all for the support and for making my experience so wonderful these past two years. I look forward to staying in touch with you and will continue to work to increase diversity within the legal profession. The next fellow, Emily Peeler, will be continuing the Diversity Dish tradition and I know she will enjoy getting to know you all as much as I have. Thank you!


August 1, 2014

Welcome to this week’s Diversity Dish, Happy Friday and hello to August! This week’s Diversity Dish features the recently released Vault list of best law firms for diversity, an article on a great pipeline program and an opportunity to be involved in next year’s Diversity Summit. Enjoy this week’s Diversity Dish, Happy Friday and if you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @CourtneyDredden.

7.16.14 Vault has released its annual “Law Firm Diversity” rankings list and the big news that each category had a new law firm leader. Ropes & Gray ended Carlton Fields five year run as the firm in the top spot. Here’s how the firms are ranked: “The rankings are based on the results of Vault’s annual survey, administered earlier this year to nearly 17,000 law firm associates. We asked participants to rate their employers on a variety diversity initiatives including recruitment, retention, promotion and mentoring efforts with respect to minority, women, LGBT individuals, individuals with disabilities and military veterans. We then averaged the scores in all five categories to determine the 25 Best Law Firms for Overall Diversity.” What is interesting is that the survey is given to only associates. We would be curious how the survey results may differ if the survey was given to administrative staff and partners. Congratulations to the firms listed and we hope this inspires other firms to continue to strive towards a more diverse and inclusive law firm.

7.27.14 The Daily Journal spotlights an innovative and exciting pipeline program that recently took place in Washington, DC. The Summer Legal Institute brought together 40 students from low income and diverse backgrounds to teach them about the law and the legal profession and to encourage them to consider the law as a career. The program was sponsored by the Just the Beginning organization, based in Chicago. “The program aims to serve as a "pipeline" leading students from high school through law school and eventually into the field, said Mark Dinglasan, director of marketing and development at Just The Beginning.” We think this a great way to introduce students to the legal profession or to continue to pique their interest. For more information on the Summer Legal Institute, click here.

Submit Your Great Ideas and Programs for the 2015 Diversity and Inclusion Summit
NALP and ALFDP invite you to participate in the first ever request for proposals for the 2015 Diversity and Inclusion Summit, to be held on June 12, 2015 in Chicago. We are seeking exciting and innovative diversity programs, and are especially interested in programming from employers and law schools who would like to share best practices and successful D&I programs. We would also like to hear from consultants and others in the business with cutting edge information to share with our attendees, partners or other experts with a special focus on diversity issues, and diversity professionals who would like to share programming ideas and other information. Learn more.


July 18, 2014

Welcome to this week’s Diversity Dish and Happy Friday! This week’s Diversity Dish features an update on the never ending Fisher case, an interesting study that shows that women and minority leaders are sometimes penalized for fostering diversity and an opportunity to be involved in next year’s Diversity Summit. Enjoy this week’s Diversity Dish, Happy Friday and if you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @CourtneyDredden.

7.16.14 In the everlasting Fisher saga, the Fifth Circuit upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s use of race as one of many admissions factors. Tamar Lewin writes in the New York Times that the President of the University was pleased with the decision. We have closely covered this case over the past two years and hope that this latest ruling puts Fisher to bed, but we’re not optimistic. Lead plaintiff, Abagail Fisher “said Tuesday that she would continue to press her lawsuit, even if it meant another appeal to the Supreme Court. She has since graduated from Louisiana State University.” Interestingly enough, the use of race as part of a holistic process only accounted for 12 percent of the black students in the class and 6 percent of the Hispanic students in the class.

7.18.14 A Business News Daily article reports on a study that suggests that “women and minorities don't shy away from hiring their peers out of fear of the competitive threat they may pose, but rather out of fear of the retribution they may incur.” Further, “[n]onwhite and women leaders who engage in diversity-increasing behaviors in the highest organizational ranks are systematically penalized with lower performance ratings for doing so. Our findings suggest that nonwhite and women leaders may increase their own chances of advancing up the corporate ladder by actually engaging in a very low level of diversity-valuing behavior.” This is a major setback on the diversity front, however this study offers an opportunity for executives to examine their organization and ensure that this is not happening at their shop.


July 11, 2014

Welcome to this week’s Diversity Dish and Happy Friday! This week’s Diversity Dish is short and sweet. We somehow missed this article from Vivia Chen on two law firms where women are thriving. It’s a short one, so make sure to read it in full. Enjoy this week’s Diversity Dish, Happy Friday and if you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @CourtneyDredden.

6.20.14 Vivia Chen writes in The Careerist on two law firms doing right by women. Chen highlights both Holland and Hart and Sidley Austin as being two standout firms in terms of women’s success. At Holland and Hart, most of the success is attributed to culture. Part of that culture is that flex-time and part-time is accepted at the firm, without stigma or penalty: “We've had it for 25 years, and both men and women use it. I was part-time for a really long time, and you can be eligible for partnership even part-time,” says current firm chair Elizabeth Sharrer. Sidley Austin is much larger than Holland and Hart, and only has one woman on its managing committee. However, the firm has made great strides. “Sidley's chair Carter Phillips says that the firm a "very conscious effort" to get back on the WILEF wagon.” We qualified by increasing the percentage of women on the firm’s executive committee," which, he adds, also sets partner compensation. "It was a priority because the firm was not happy with losing its certification a year ago and we know that WILEF certification is an important credential both for recruiting and retaining women lawyers."


June 27, 2014

Welcome to this week’s Diversity Dish and Happy Friday! This week’s Diversity Dish is short and sweet. We’re featuring an open letter from Debra L. Raskin, the President of the New York City Bar Association. Read on for more details and Raskin’s thoughts on diversity within the profession! Enjoy this week’s Diversity Dish, Happy Friday and if you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @CourtneyDredden.

6.23.14 On the heels of the New York City Bar Association’s (“NYCBA”) gala fundraiser honoring the 2014 Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award Winners, Raskin reflected on ten years of the NYCBA Diversity Benchmarking Reports. Raskin reports on what we already know: that women and minorities are lacking at the leadership levels in law firms. However, Raskin adds: “That said, what the numbers don’t reflect is a shift in culture, a “new normal” where there is significant acceptance of the “business case” for diversity. This change in culture is noted by many of the leaders of the legal profession who were interviewed for the report:

“There is a much greater recognition that diversity is a given. Firms are moving forward and trying to redesign and adjust themselves to the ‘new normal’ and diversity is part of that conversation, even given various market realities. When firms are pulling back in a lot of ways, they are not pulling back on diversity.”

Raskin continues to note that according to the most recent Diversity Benchmarking Report, most white men still fail to see the relevance of diversity to them. This is an area where more work must be done. Raskin ends her letter on an optimistic note, hoping that new societal norms will help to increase diversity amongst all levels at law firms. We can’t help but be optimistic as well!


June 20, 2014

Welcome to this week’s Diversity Dish and Happy Friday! After a brief hiatus, the Diversity Dish is back! Per usual, there is both good news and not so good news this week. In good news, New York law firms have made some progress with regards to diversity. In not so good news the gap between men and women at leadership levels continues to reach horrifying levels. Read on for more details! Enjoy this week’s Diversity Dish, Happy Friday and if you aren’t already, follow us on Twitter @CourtneyDredden.

6.13.14 Today’s General Counsel looks at a recent Above the Law piece, coupled with an article by Adam Smith and confirms what we all already know: that there is a major drop off in female attorneys between being hired and making partner.  Adam Smith’s article highlights this chart from the National Association of Women Lawyers, which shows that as the position gets more advanced, the number of women drastically drops. Smith proposes the following as reasons for the dropoff: “unequal exposure to the most talented senior partners and the most interesting cases, and unequal participation in networks outside the office.”

6.18.14 Christine Simmons reports in the New York Law Journal that while New York law firms have made some progress in the diversity sphere, it has been slow and limited. “Over the past 10 years, firms have made progress diversifying the associate pipeline and increasing LGBT representation. But nearly 70 percent of about 60 firms surveyed did not have one attorney of color on their management committees last year. And minorities and women are leaving firms at higher rates than white male attorneys.” Where was the progress most notable? In the associate pipeline – those numbers were (slowly, but steadily) moving up. However, just like we read in the General Counsel article above, the rise in numbers isn’t yet translating into a rise in the numbers on management committees, which tells us that there is still much to be done.

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