On Aug. 2, Vault.com published a roster of the top 25 law firms nationwide for commitment to diversity, and two Texas-based firms -- Haynes and Boone and Vinson & Elkins – made the list. Vault, a career resource organization, generated the list from a survey of 16,000 law firm associates who were polled about their firms’ commitment “to hiring, retaining, and promoting diverse attorneys.” Tex Parte asked V&E managing partner Joe Dilg and Haynes and Boone partner Felicity Fowler, chairwoman of the firm’s diversity committee, a few questions about making the Vault list.
Tex Parte: Are you surprised?
Joe Dilg: Not really. We value diversity of all types and strive to promote a very inclusive environment. Our efforts to promote diversity and women's initiatives have improved the work experience for everyone. That's one of the key reasons we were once again ranked in the top 20 best firms to work for overall by Vault's survey this year.
Tex Parte: What is the most important effort your firm makes to diversity?
Dilg: There is no single most important effort. Diversity and inclusion are embedded in everything we do.
Tex Parte: Do these rankings matter?
Dilg: We don't do the things we do for the rankings, but the rankings are important to encourage law students and other lawyers to take a good look at what is going on at Vinson & Elkins. Those that do tend to like what they see.
Tex Parte: What are the most significant things that [Haynes and Boone] does to promote diversity?
Felicity Fowler: The firm has a very active attorney diversity committee [ADC] comprised of approximately 60 members (more than 10% of our total number of attorneys) that meets every month to work on the numerous firm diversity initiatives in the areas of awareness, recruiting, retention, promotion and leadership. The ADC has implemented several new initiatives over the last few years, including a minority attorney retreat for attorneys and clients, the Women's Leadership Academy, the Minority Associate Sponsor Program, the Minority Scholars Program, benefits for same-sex partners, paternity leave for associates and many other new initiatives in the areas of women, minority and LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] diversity efforts.
Tex Parte: Were you surprised with the showing in the survey?
Fowler: We are proud of our firm's long history in the diversity area and we are thankful for being recognized.
Tex Parte: And do these rankings really matter?
Fowler: Yes. While the rankings do not tell the entire story, the rankings provide us with a benchmark as to how we are doing compared to our peer firms throughout the country. For an organization outside of the firm to recognize our efforts is motivating for us to do even better than before. Further, diversity matters to our attorneys and staff, clients, recruits and the communities in which we live, and the rankings are a reflection of those ideals.
-- Miriam Rozen