Boston, MA. Building on a strong foundation of Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, Nixon Peabody has evolved its industry-first Diversity Challenge, now allowing attorneys to obtain billable hour credit for their diversity-related activities.
In 2010, the firm launched the innovative Diversity Challenge, calling on its attorneys to dedicate at least 40 hours a year to diversity-related initiatives and projects. The key to the Challenge is its familiarity (lawyers understand hourly measures and they respond to targeted commitments), and its universality (diversity is effectively communicated to be every lawyer’s responsibility). It’s an approach that any law firm of any size can adopt. Example activities that continue to be part of the Challenge and are now eligible for the billable hour credit include, but are not limited to:
- Attending, organizing, or presenting at an internal or external diversity-related event, training session or CLE;
- Organizing or participating in on-campus outreach to diverse law students, a diversity-focused job fair, or diversity-focused summer program in a local Nixon Peabody office;
- Mentoring a diverse law student, or mentoring or sponsoring a diverse colleague; and
- Collaborating with a client on diversity-related initiatives by planning and attending the resulting events.
“Our diversity-related initiatives are so integral to who we are as a firm, and the diversity billable hour credit stays true to that identity,” said Stephen Zubiago, CEO and managing partner of Nixon Peabody. “First and foremost, these initiatives are the right thing to do. It’s also good for business when our teams more accurately reflect the diversity of our clients and our communities.”
As part of Nixon Peabody’s efforts to move the needle on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, the firm’s leadership reframed the Challenge to offer billable hour credit with the goal of keeping the initiative front-and-center by providing attorneys with a constant reminder of its magnitude. Moving forward, attorneys can credit billable hours annually for combined diversity activities.
At a time when diversity and inclusion are buzzwords across all industries, Nixon Peabody’s Diversity Challenge is more than window dressing. It is directly tied to actions.
“During attorney assessments, we look closely at diversity hours and the impactful work that has been done,” said Stacie Collier, who in her role as Professional Personnel Partner oversees all attorney evaluations at the firm. “Expanding the Diversity Challenge doesn’t involve behavior change. We saw the immense number of hours people were already dedicating to these activities as part of our Challenge, and we wanted to recognize the commitment by providing billable hour credit.”
The Diversity Challenge, a first among Am Law 100 firms at the time, has been hugely successful for Nixon Peabody, and has been a differentiating factor among next-gen talent coming to the firm. With the newest evolution in the form of a billing credit, the firm’s leaders are encouraging people to dig deep to find opportunities.
“The Diversity Challenge launched with simple activities and quickly grew from there,” said Kendal Tyre, co-leader of Nixon Peabody’s Franchising & Distribution practice who was the firm’s Diversity partner in 2010. “Our firm has continued to raise the bar, increasing the ways in which attorneys can engage and expanding the ways this work can help us achieve our ambitious diversity goals.”