“Diversity in the workplace is vital to a firm’s success.”
Many law firms say that, but few are very serious about investing in and innovating their diversity initiatives.
Last week, seven first-year Boston College Law School students flew to New York City for mock interviews with hiring partners, associates, and legal recruiters at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, a major law firm located in lower Manhattan. We left Boston in the midst of a surprise snowstorm and landed in sunny New York just a few hours later.
Cadwalader is taking sincere steps towards attracting and retaining top talent from law schools all over the country. The firm recently launched the Cadwalader Center for Diversity and Inclusion as part of its renewed commitment to elevating diversity initiatives to reflect its importance in the firm’s culture.
As the first person in my family to pursue law, I wasn’t sure what the interview process for a young attorney would be like at a law firm. I was a bit nervous when I went in for my mock interview, but the partner I interviewed with eased my concerns. He provided valuable feedback on my interviewing skills and prefaced all of his questions with his thought process for asking a specific question; this enabled me to have the most impactful response. After the mock interview, all of the students were invited to a networking reception.
During the cocktail hour, Ms. Sonnia Shields, the firm’s Director of Diversity, spent a considerable amount of time chatting with BC Law students and explaining the role she plays in ensuring that the firm follows through with its diversity initiatives – not just during the recruitment process, but also through the mentoring, project assignment, and client development process.
It became apparent that Cadwalader was serious about diversity based on the investment – in terms of money and time – they placed into bolstering their initiatives. The fact that partners and associates from all practice areas in the firm were present for mock interviews with 1Ls speaks volumes about their commitment to diversity.
Recognizing that globalization is an unstoppable integration and evolution of world views, economic trade, culture, and ideas, law firms have to be responsive – and proactive – in recruiting top talent with academic achievements, diverse backgrounds, and a drive to find the best solution for clients. Whether the client is a foreign government seeking advice on how to draft its new constitution or a multi-national corporation conducting commerce in newly opened markets, the role of attorneys in the global marketplace has become even more important, and the diverse composition of teams at law firms has never been more vital to the success of law firms and for the best outcome for clients.