Diversity and inclusiveness are core values at Winston & Strawn. Diversity involves a commitment to understand and value differences. We believe everyone benefits from a culture that recognizes and respects an inclusive workforce.
Our diversity efforts are led by a formal, firmwide Diversity Committee, chaired by partner Amanda Groves, which includes representatives of top management and major practice areas and departments. The Diversity Committee's formal, multi-year strategic plan for diversity involved research, focus groups, extensive interviews, and analysis. The plan focused on several key areas: mentoring; work/life balance; recruitment; business and professional development; communications; retention, assignments, and inclusion; and associate evaluations. Several firm initiatives were established as a result of this effort, including an enhanced maternity leave policy, a formal mentoring program, new business development training, and the launch of numerous affinity groups. The Committee monitors the plan on an ongoing basis to calibrate activities and enhance the firm's diversity-related efforts.
To encourage diversity within the law school pipeline, each year the firm awards multiple $10,000 scholarships to qualified students. Through this scholarship program, the firm strives to mentor and expand the law school minority population, and also interest candidates in working at Winston & Strawn after graduation. We actively recruit at universities and diversity job fairs, reach out to minority student organizations, participate on career panels and forums, seek referrals from other attorneys, and fund diversity scholarships for minority law students.
To support the next generation of lawyers, Winston actively participates in pipeline programs providing internship opportunities to minority high school and college students, and hosting career events for young students. To help retain and mentor attorneys, the firm has developed and supported internal affinity groups for minorities and women, ensured that EEO and non-discrimination policies address gender identity and persons with disabilities, strengthened our formal mentoring program, and enacted a gender-neutral parental leave policy.
Winston earned a 100 percent rating in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index in 2009 and 2010, which rates businesses on their treatment of LGBT employees. The firm also received high rankings in Legal Times and the Chicago Lawyer for the number of our minority lawyers. One of our partners was awarded the 2009 Founder's Award from the Chicago Bar Association's Alliance for Women, which recognizes outstanding women lawyers. Our diversity newsletter also was selected "Best Law Firm Newsletter" by the Burton Foundation in 2008. It also received a "Your Honor" award from the Legal Marketing Association-Midwest chapter in 2010. Minority Corporate Counsel Association has awarded Winston with the Sager Award three times for our commitment to improve the hiring, retention and promotion of minority attorneys. Winston also received the 2nd Annual Award for recruitment and retention of Hispanic lawyers from the Hispanic Bar Association of Washington, D.C.
We regularly sponsor events and programs of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, the ABA's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, and the ABA's Commission on Women. Many of our partners and associates also have served in leadership capacities for other organizations, including the Black Women Lawyers Association, the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois, the National Conference of Women's Bar Associations, and the Chicago Bar Association's Alliance for Women.
Our Women's Steering Committee (WSC), which includes women partners from the firm's offices, meets quarterly to discuss new initiatives and ongoing efforts aimed at retaining, developing, and promoting women attorneys to partnership and leadership positions. The firm also publishes an internal Winston Women in the Community e-newsletter that highlights programs, speeches, and community activities involving our female attorneys.
Our Women to Women initiative (W2W) hosts formal and informal programs so female associates can network and learn from female partners. The formal programs have included discussions on business development and leadership, along with profiles of new female lateral partners. Informal mentoring lunches provide opportunities for female associates to meet with female partners to discuss work-related issues. To encourage open communication, the firm has held three firmwide women's conferences for the partners and associates that have included panel discussions, outside speakers, and networking opportunities.
Of note, the Los Angeles office is managed by a female partner. In addition, two female partners serve on the firm's Executive Committee; one female partner is a practice group chair; a female partner heads the Winston & Strawn Foundation; a female partner serves as chair of the Diversity Committee; a female partner chairs the Partner Compensation Committee; two female partners chair the Summer Program for their office; and a female partner heads the Business Development department.
Furthermore, the firm has pledged its support to the Chicago Bar Association's "Call to Action," an effort from the CBA's Alliance for Women. This ongoing initiative encourages the progress of Chicago women attorneys and increases the number of women in law firm leadership positions. Winston & Strawn signed the "Call to Action" pledge, expanded its scope to address all minority attorneys (not just women), and is now working to achieve its goals.
LGBT Affinity Group
The firm's LGBT affinity group, a Diversity Committee effort, provides networking opportunities and provides guidance on sponsorships, outreach, and leadership opportunities. The group, which is open to attorneys and staff, meets regularly to discuss initiatives that support professional development, recruitment and retention matters aimed at LGBT attorneys. The firm also was a recent participant at an all-day forum focused on creating diversity initiatives that promote the advancement and retention of LGBT lawyers.
Members of Winston's LGBT affinity group also have provided pro bono legal services through the firm's public service program. For example, in recent months an associate represented the Servicemembers' Legal Defense Network, a resource and advocacy organization supporting gay and lesbian service members in the armed forces, as amicus curiae in the case of United States v. Harvey. Our client was convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for engaging in private, consensual homosexual conduct that is considered protected, private activity under Lawrence v. Texas and United States v. Marcum. A general court-martial convicted our client and dishonorably discharged him from the Air Force. The case, which is in the military justice system, is being appealed to the military's highest court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). We submitted a brief asking the CAAF to grant review of the case and the petition is currently pending before the Court.
Recruiting women and minorities is an integral part of the Diversity Committee Charter. Members of our Diversity Committee routinely participate in the recruitment of minority students by serving as key points of contact, participating in interviews and follow-up, and having independent discussions with prospects about working at Winston & Strawn.
Winston has routinely recruited at various job fairs and campuses, including:
- Cook County Job Fair (Chicago)
- Bay Area Diversity Career Fair (San Francisco)
- Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
- West Region Black Law Student Association Job Fair (California)
- Hispanic National Bar Association Job Fair (Washington, D.C.)
- Lavender Law Conference Career Fair
- Council on Legal Education Opportunity
- Northeastern Black Law Student Association Job Fair (New York)
- Mid-Atlantic Black Law Student Association Job Fair (Washington, D.C.)
We also take an active role in hosting receptions, open houses, and meetings with minority students who are interested in legal careers.
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