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Diversity at Kelley Drye & Warren: Law Firm and Corporate Clients Working Together

For the February 2008 edition of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, the publication's Editor interviewed Sarah L. Reid, a partner at Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP, on the subject of diversity.  In a fascinating and uplifting interview, Ms. Reid, the first woman partner at Kelley Drye and the head of the firm's diversity committee, discusses how diversity has become a core value for her.  Just how important does she consider diversity in the legal profession?  She stated that she and her partners "believe that encouraging a workplace that embraces and truly understands the value of diversity is critical in providing the highest quality of legal and client services."  Reid explained that her firm's clients are also very interested in the diversity of the lawyers who represent them.  Some clients even require diversity statistics and reports from the firms that serve them.

Explaining her belief that diversity is a broad and flexible concept, Reid detailed the ways her firm promotes diversity in the workplace and in the legal profession as a whole, including the following:

  • working closely with one of its clients, JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) to give a diverse group of summer associates the opportunity to spend time working with both inside counsel and outside counsel, providing the firm and its client a diverse pool of future lawyers to work in financial services law; 
  • sponsoring organizations dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession;
  • working to help women balance raising families with enjoying long, successful careers;
  • supporting community and professional organizations that serve the needs of persons with widely varying ethnic backgrounds, sexual-orientations, and gender identities;
  • actively encouraging and supporting affinity groups within the firm;
  • developing and maintaining relationships with law school organizations that promote diversity;
  • mentoring minority law students in the greater New York City area and helping them with career guidance through Practicing Attorneys for Law Students ("PALS"), a not-for-profit organization, designed to assist minorities entering the legal profession; and
  • providing internships at the firm that give high school students hands-on work experience.

Reid says that her firm has planned more initiatives for the near future, including inviting more of its clients to meet with the firm's diversity committee to explore ways to work together with clients on diversity issues and to ensure the firm understands and meets the clients' expectations for diversity.  Summing up Kelley Drye's commitment to diversity, Ms. Reid says, "The firm is completely committed to the values of diversity and inclusion and the diversity committee will continue to be very active."  What a positive, inspiring philosophy to hold and to practice as Ms. Reid and her firm do.

By Steve Imparl, guest blogger

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One aspect of diversity that is almost never discussed is the issue of contract attorneys and diversity. This diverse and growing sector of the legal workforce has only sparse access to health insurance, retirement plans, and professional development. Yet, they are up to nine times more racially and ethnically diverse than the ranks of partners, and almost three times as diverse as full-time associates. A recent study was conducted at JDWired.com to bring this issue to light. The report can be found at: http://www.jdwired.com/thenewlawyer

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