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In 1992, a group of law firms in Washington signed on to “The D.C. Conference of Opportunities for Minorities in the Legal Profession” to demonstrate their commitment to improving diversity at their firms. The conference was spearheaded by Vernon Jordan and was a project of the District of Columbia Bar. In New York, firms participated in a similar challenge, led by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The initial goal, as outlined in these citywide initiatives, was to populate firms with 10 percent minority attorneys in five years’ time. At that time, there were only a few options for recruiting diverse attorneys. Some firms recruited at predominantly black law schools. The Black Law Students Association and the Hispanic law student group, La Alianza, held job fairs, but these groups were essentially the only organizations offering opportunities for employers to hire law students of color. Today, firms are still struggling to meet and surpass the original goal of a population of 10 percent diverse attorneys. Some firms have made great strides, while others have not been able to succeed as much as they would have liked. However, many more firms today understand that diversity is key for talent, business and quality-of-life reasons. As a result, many diversity initiatives also focus on the retention of minority attorneys, as well as their recruitment. What are firms doing to recruit and retain diverse attorneys and law students today? Firms with a strong cadre of diverse senior attorneys are able to provide role models for junior attorneys and thereby help with retention. Diverse law students and associates are attracted to firms with substantial numbers of diverse partners, so increasing the diverse partnership ranks is very important for recruiting and retention. In the recruiting of lateral partners, personal relationships of attorneys already within the firm are helpful, as well as endorsements from other individuals in the legal market, such as in-house counsel. Today, many private companies are making a commitment to diversity and are therefore mandating that their service providers also support diverse workplaces. It is a huge asset for a law firm if their clients will endorse the firm’s diversity efforts and thereby assist in the firm’s recruiting efforts. Many firms are working more closely with law schools to enhance the placement of diverse law students into their summer associate programs. Summer associate programs provide second-year law students with an opportunity to work at a law firm during the summer, where they receive the type of assignments typically given to first-year associates. These programs are typically the most important pipeline for law firm hiring. A NUMBER OF INITIATIVES The following are examples of initiatives firms have taken to improve their diverse law student hiring programs: Hiring diverse first-year law students to participate in summer programs: Typically, law firms hire second-year law students for their summer associate classes. By offering diverse first-year law students a summer job, firms hope to reach out to students they might not be able to recruit during the highly competitive second-year law student recruiting process. In addition, these students can be great ambassadors for the firm when they return to their law schools during the next academic year. Sponsoring programs for diverse law student organizations: Firms provide attorneys as speakers, mentors and coaches for moot court competitions sponsored by diverse law student groups. Firms also help to defray the cost of student-run job fairs and networking events. Participating in diverse student networking events, coordinated by various law schools: One such event is the University of Maryland’s “Firm Night.” These events provide an opportunity for students to visit law firms, talk with attorneys about what their day-to-day work actually entails and learn about what life would be like should they choose to work in private practice. Offering fellowships to diverse law students: Some programs require proof of financial need, and some fellowships are based on writing competitions. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius offers a book scholarship program. Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky supports the Scholarship Committee of the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation, which provides scholarships for talented minority law students who are interested in intellectual property law. Working closely with law schools to help recruit diverse law students, through sponsorship of events for newly admitted students and the like: The University of Miami School of Law sponsors the “Professional Opportunity Program,” which provides a vehicle for firms to hire diverse law students as summer associates and academic-year clerks. Here are some more examples: supplying speakers for panels on topics such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, which are held as a part of the orientation for new law students; participating in mentoring and speaker programs of law schools’ women’s organizations; offering opportunities to diverse law students to work part-time during the academic year as law clerks or interns at law firms; providing interviewers for mock interview programs, sponsored by diverse law student groups, or the law school itself, in conjunction with other mock interview programs. Today, there are many professional development organizations with a focus on promoting diversity in the legal profession, both on a national and citywide basis. For example, the Washington Area Legal Recruitment Administrators Association featured a diversity networking event on March 29. This event was open to all diverse law students from Washington-area law schools. Attorneys from sponsoring firms attended the program to meet the law students through a round-robin event, where they had eight minutes to network before moving on to the next table. Another Washington institution is the D.C. Road Show. Founded by African-American attorneys in the early 1990s, the D.C. Road Show provides a vehicle for African-American attorneys from Washington law firms to speak on panels at a variety of law schools all over the country. Panel topics include what life as a diverse attorney is like at a large law firm, interviewing techniques and opportunities for networking with diverse attorneys from the Washington area. The group also sponsors a reception each summer for African-American summer associates. The Corporate Law Division of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity program in New York matches recent college graduates who have been accepted to law school with law firms. The students work at the law firms during the summer before they start law school. Finally, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) offers a number of opportunities for law firms to sponsor events and partner with corporate counsel to provide opportunities for law firm attorneys to meet diverse attorneys from corporations and law students. Through its new Corporate Scholars Program, the MCCA will offer scholarships to diverse first-year law students. IN-HOUSE PROFESSIONALS The latest trend at law firms is to create an internal position to provide management direction and a full-time focus on developing diversity initiatives. Firms hope that by creating a culture that embraces and supports diversity from a leadership level, they will be able to attract and retain a more diverse work force. A few examples of these roles include Edwin Bowman, formerly vice president, manager of diversity development for Merrill Lynch and now diversity manager for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and Jacqueline Wilson Cranford, previously the firmwide director of recruitment and development at O’Melveny & Myers and now its director of diversity. In addition, many law firms are working with diversity consultants to promote and foster diversity at all levels of the firm. Firms vary on how they utilize these consultants. Some firms engage consultants to sensitize their entire staffs on diversity issues in order to make their workplaces more welcoming to diverse populations. Others use consultants to gauge where they are in terms of diversity, where they need to be and how they can get there. Some firms are focused on training their attorneys on diversity issues. One of the more innovative consultants, Arin Reeves, trains attorneys and staff, who in turn train others at the firms to facilitate interaction through “diversity dialogues.” These dialogues provide a forum for small groups of staff and attorneys to meet to discuss their differences and to learn about one another. Led by the trained attorneys and staff, the key issues raised in these dialogues can then be used to help shape a firm’s diversity programming. There are many ways that law firms are working to increase diversity in their ranks through strategic recruiting initiatives. These firms understand that recruiting is a key step to creating diverse workplaces, where both employees and clients benefit from a collaboration of different ideas and diverse backgrounds. Patrick Lynch is a partner in and chairman of the hiring committee at Washington’s Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky. Elaine Arabatzis is diversity/pro bono counsel to the firm.

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