NALP Directory of Legal Employers

Directory Year: 2021

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP - Los Angeles, California

http://www.akingump.com

Diversity & Inclusion

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Diversity Chair

Diversity Chair Prefix Ms.
Diversity Chair First Name Kim
Diversity Chair Last Name Koopersmith

Diversity Contact Information

Diversity Contact Prefix Mr.
Diversity Contact First Name Nimesh
Diversity Contact Last Name Patel
Link to your organization's diversity website http://www.akingump.com/en/our-firm/diversity/index.html

Recruitment methods

Which of the following methods do you use to increase the presence and retention of under-represented groups? (Check all that apply) Diversity job fairs
Outreach to law student groups
Formal mentoring efforts
Recruit at schools with large minority populations
Bar-sponsored programs
Firm diversity committee
Recruit at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)
Comments

At Akin Gump, our long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion reflects our belief that our lawyers' differing perspectives and experiences are catalysts for creative solutions. The exceptional, diverse talent we recruit thrives in an environment where collaboration generates ideas and innovation. A sense of community fosters understanding, respect and a sense of belonging, while professional development opportunities build exciting, dynamic careers.

 

Akin Gump’s comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy has the following goal areas: leadership commitment, recruiting and the diversity pipeline, professional development and inclusive workplaces, and strategic partnerships.

 

Leadership Commitment

We are very proud to be one of very few major, global law firms to have a woman, Kim Koopersmith, serve as Chairperson of the firm. In terms of our commitment to diversity and inclusion, Kim sets the tone at the top. A few quick examples:

 

  • Partners: 25% women, 14% racially/ethnically diverse, 2.5% LGBTQ
  • Management Committee: 31% women and 8% racially/ethnically diverse
  • Compensation Committee: 18% women and 27% racially/ethnically diverse
  • S. Office Partners in Charge: 18% women and 36% racially/ethnically diverse (including our two largest offices, New York and Washington, DC)

 

Kim is also committed to C-Suite leadership to support the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and talent management. In 2019, the firm hired Nimesh Patel as the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to lead the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Nimesh and Kim regularly present key findings and updates to the management committee and practice group leaders. In February 2020, Elizabeth Miller joined the firm as the Chief Legal Talent Officer, leading efforts related to the recruitment and development of all attorneys in the firm.

 

Akin Gump is Mansfield 3.0 Certified Plus, which requires at least 30% representation of women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities in candidate pools and firm leadership roles and committees. The firm is also participating in the Mansfield 4.0 Rule Initiative.

 

In 2019, the firm began implementing bias interrupters in key firm processes such as recruiting and performance evaluations. In 2020, we rolled out an implicit bias initiative, including training sessions for all U.S. attorneys and business services (staff) members, as well as follow-up sessions with key groups of firm leaders such as the management committee, practice group leaders, all of the firm’s hiring committees, the partner admissions committee and the partner compensation committee to identify and minimize the impact of bias in key firm processes. In 2021, we are launching an Inclusive Leadership Initiative to provide tools for partners and other firm leaders on how to build a diverse team and manage it in an intentionally inclusive manner.

 

Racial Justice

 

In 2020, Kim also led the firm’s response to the long-overdue reckoning on racial justice that included strong internal and external messaging, as well as significantly enhancing our existing D&I efforts. Specifically, the firm launched an implicit bias initiative and established a racial justice steering committee, which helped us organize a comprehensive suite of responses to the call for addressing systemic racism, including a $100,000 donation each to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative. The firm also provided immediate access to anti-racism books and resources for all employees, held a firmwide town hall, declared Juneteenth a firm holiday and organized programming to recognize the day, and continued to host a number of impressive speakers addressing race and equity, including a thought-provoking discussion in 2020 with Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Anti-Racist. Akin Gump is also a founding member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), which now includes 280+ firms. LFAA is dedicated to partnering with outside legal services organizations to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law to seek change that benefits communities of color, and to promote racial equity in the law.

Recruiting and the Diversity Pipeline
Akin Gump is committed to recruiting exceptional and diverse talent at all levels. We engage with student affinity groups at numerous law schools, collaborate with strategic external partners for lateral opportunities, and support pipeline programs to enhance diversity across the legal profession. A few examples of these efforts include the following:

 

  • The Akin Gump/Robert Strauss Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship Program is a two-year program offered in our five largest U.S. offices, with scholars spending six weeks of the first summer with the firm and four weeks at a firm client. The second summer, the scholars participate in the firm’s general 2L summer associate program. In addition to the salary they earn at the firm during their two summers, the scholars receive $25,000 to help offset law school expenses upon completion of the full program.

 

  • The Pro Bono Scholars Program, which is another two-year program with scholars spending four weeks at the firm and seven weeks at a public interest/legal services organization working entirely on pro bono matters in their first summer and then joining the firm’s general 2L summer associate program the second summer.

 

  • The SEO Law Fellows program, which provides internship opportunities for rising diverse first-year students from many of the nation’s most prestigious law schools. We now host SEO Law Fellows in each of our five largest offices.

 

Professional Development and Inclusive Workplaces

Our efforts to recruit diverse law students, lawyers and professionals are directly linked to our commitment to their development. We’ve created a set of programs and processes to provide the skills, visibility and responsibility they need to serve our clients at the highest levels.

  • Work Assignments: Overseen by assignment partners and non-lawyer practice managers, a thoughtful work assignment process gives associates wide exposure to partners in key client work and a significant role in the business development process.

 

  • Mentoring: To augment our firmwide one-on-one mentoring programs, we have introduced mentoring circles for our diverse lawyers. Each circle includes at least three partners and a mix of associates, with the goal of building broader and deeper relationships within the firm.

  • Diversity & Inclusion Councils: Office and firmwide D&I councils bring together diverse perspectives to address our recruitment, retention and advancement strategy needs. Over the past 10 years, participants have built a strong sense of community while identifying areas and avenues for improvement. The councils also promote diversity within the legal community through partnerships with clients and targeted outreach to lateral candidates, law school students and the not-for-profit community.
  • Firmwide Resource Groups: A forum for targeted professional development programs, mentorship and relationship building, FRGs are where our professionals meet to discuss their shared interests and concerns. We currently have FRGs for women, working parents and caregivers, people with disabilities and those who identify as Black, Latinx, Asian and/or LGBTQ+ and their allies. With subcommittees often led by counsel and associates, FRGs are an opportunity to forge strong bonds with colleagues while sharing ideas to address recruiting and retention challenges.
  • Implicit Bias Initiative: Our firmwide implicit and systemic bias training sessions help us understand how racism and implicit bias impact our everyday decisions. Specific additional sessions for firm leaders include a focus on issues such as partner promotions, work assignments, client pitch participation, partner compensation and recruiting. We are also implementing bias interrupters in key firm processes. 
  • Women’s Leadership Initiative: Akin Gump’s Women’s Professional Development Initiative, which is now part of our Women’s FRG, provides a forum for women to build internal and external relationships. We provide access to the professional development training our women lawyers request most often—from partnership and promotion to authenticity and presentation skills.
  • Pro Bono Representation: In a firm where pro bono efforts are supported and encouraged, our lawyers are tackling issues of racial justice and equality and providing critical resources to underserved communities.
  • Inclusive and Family Friendly Policies: We recognize that supporting our lawyers' careers includes helping them effectively manage and integrate work, family and other responsibilities. Agile and part-time work arrangements, generous family leave policies that were further expanded in 2021, on-site wellness programs, and daycare and elder care support are available throughout the firm.

 

Strategic Partnerships

We regularly partner with clients who share our commitment to advancing D&I in the legal profession, as well as other organizations such as the national diverse bar associations, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Akin Gump is a founding firm of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), which works with legal services agencies and community organizations to address systemic racism. We are also proud to support other national diversity and social-justice related organizations such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Latino Justice, Council of Urban Professionals, Lambda Legal and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Non-discrimination policy

It is the long-standing policy of the firm to hire well-qualified people to perform the many tasks necessary in providing high quality legal service.  An integral part of this policy is to provide equal employment opportunity for all persons.

 

In this regard, the firm: (1) adheres to federal and local laws, regulations and guidelines with regard to non-discrimination against job applicants and firm employees; and (2) provides equal employment opportunity for all persons, including in its recruiting practices and its administration of all hiring, working conditions, benefits and privileges of employment, compensation, training, opportunities for advancement such as promotion, transfers, and terminations of employment, without regard to the person’s age, race, color, national origin (including language restrictions), ancestry, religious creed (including dress and grooming practices), sex (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, breast feeding and medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding), gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability (including HIV and AIDS) unrelated to the job to be performed, denial of Family and Medical Leave; marital status, medical condition (cancer and genetic characteristics), genetic information, military and veteran status, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.  The firm also fully complies with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and provides reasonable accommodation in accordance with it. 

Diversity fellowships or scholarships

Does your organization or office sponsor/offer a Diversity Fellowship or Scholarship? Yes
If yes, is the program open to 1L
Please provide a brief description of the program

The Akin Gump/Robert Strauss Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship and the Financial Restructuring (Bankruptcy) Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship provide a $25,000 scholarship to outstanding first year law students to offset expenses for their second year of law school. In addition to the financial award, the scholarships also offer mentoring from firm attorneys and a paid second year summer associate position in the firm’s Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. offices. For more information please visit our website: https://www.akingump.com/en/careers/students/1l-opportunities/index.html

Affinity group information

Does your organization or office have affinity groups? Yes
If yes, please describe your affinity groups below

Akin Gump has formal Firmwide Resource Groups (“FRGs”). These FRGs are intended to provide a forum for targeted professional development programs, mentorship and relationship building. FRGs are where our professionals meet to discuss their shared interests and concerns. We currently have FRGs for women, working parents and caregivers, people with disabilities and those who identify as Black, Latinx, Asian and/or LGBTQ+ and their allies. With subcommittees often led by counsel and associates, FRGs are an opportunity to forge strong bonds with colleagues while sharing ideas to address recruiting and retention challenges.

Akin Gump’s Women’s Professional Development Initiative provides a forum for the firm’s female attorneys to network and discuss issues such as retention and professional development. Women’s Professional Development Initiative committees are active at both a local office level and on a firmwide basis.