At Nixon Peabody, we strive to foster a culture that embraces diversity and maximizes opportunity for our clients, our colleagues, and our communities. This culture is integral to the work we do for our clients and the satisfaction of our people.
I am proud of the consistent action we’ve taken this year to advance our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals. Through our partnership with Diversity Lab, we’re implementing innovations that make our firm (and the legal profession) more diverse and inclusive. Internally, we’ve offered programming that generates important dialogue and celebrates the different perspectives of our colleagues. As we close out 2021, we want to highlight the progress we’ve made in the areas that matter most.
For Our People
Our people are Nixon Peabody’s most important asset. We strive to create a culture that reflects the composition of the communities we serve, allowing us to respond with greater agility to the needs of our clients in a diverse, multicultural world. This year, we’ve significantly advanced that goal.
We are currently surpassing 30% gender and racial/ethnic diversity in the majority of our firm’s leadership roles. To mark this milestone, Diversity Lab honored us with Mansfield Certification Plus status in 2021—our fourth consecutive year receiving this honor.
Our 2021 “diversity,” at a glance:
- Total attorney population: 36% women attorneys, 17% racially/ethnically diverse attorneys, and 4% LGTBQ+ attorneys
- Lateral partners: 50% are women, racially/ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, or veterans
- Lateral associates: 60% are women, racially/ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, or veterans
- Practice group leaders/Office managing partners: 41% are women, racially/ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, or veterans
- Firm management committee: 38% women
- Income partner class (elevated from associate or counsel in 2021): 56% are women, racially/ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, or veterans
- Equity partner class (elevated from income partner in 2021): 57% are women, racially/ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, or veterans
Through our involvement in Move The Needle Fund (MTN), we’ve implemented several programs that infuse DEI principles in our recruiting, retention, advancement, and education. Notably, we are one of a few, select law firms nationwide piloting the Mansfield Rule for Workflow App. We also leverage our OnTrack Sponsorship to facilitate career advancement opportunities for diverse lawyers and our inclusive job postings to attract a more diverse talent pool.
For Our Clients
Through high-impact partnerships with clients and outside organizations, we’ve launched cutting-edge programs that promote the growth of our diverse attorneys while enriching and expanding our client relationships.
We are partnering with our long-time client, Lumen, to pilot an innovative program aimed at expanding opportunities for diverse lawyers. We’ve worked with Lumen for many years, and when the company’s vice president and deputy general counsel, Ryan McManis, was searching for law firms to lead this new diversity initiative, he said NP was top of mind. In his own words, “We wanted to partner with firms that we knew would commit to diversity, firms that we trusted and we knew had great lawyers.”
NP’s Bill Codinha spearheads our involvement in the program, which offers diverse, mid-level attorneys an opportunity to gain insight into the inner workings of Lumen and provide representation on real cases. Participants can benefit from the knowledge of leaders within Lumen and mentors throughout the legal industry. According to NP associate Tarae Howell, a mentee participant in the program, Lumen’s initiative is uniquely beneficial in that it’s led by general counsel, who are ultimately making decisions about allocating workflow to outside counsel. Through our partnership with Lumen, we’re realizing our mutual goals of fostering diverse talent to drive greater inclusivity in the legal profession.
In conjunction with MTN, our Focused Five program facilitates relationships between diverse partners at our firm and new or potential clients. The program pairs participating NP partners with a business development coach and high-level in-house counsel from companies actively engaged in the MTN initiative. Through this initiative, we promote the professional growth of diverse partners while gaining valuable perspectives that fuel our insights and contributions to our clients.
For Our Communities
Within our communities, our goal is to have a positive impact. We do that by fostering inclusion, advocating for historically marginalized populations, and serving as good ambassadors of our DEI principles. We leverage a number of resources to accomplish these goals. I’m proud of the work we’ve done this year to expand our relationships with community partners and amplify the tools within our firm.
The mission of NP’s pro bono work is intrinsically linked to our DEI program. We’re mutually motivated by a desire to create positive change for people in need and promote equal access to justice throughout our communities.
Recently, a team of NP Chicago attorneys reached a pivotal milestone in their five-year fight to end a discriminatory practice against transgender Iowans. Last month, a trial court struck down as unconstitutional the state’s law banning Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgeries. The decision is a big win for transgender Iowans. Our partners Seth Horvath, Tina Solis, and Tom Hecht devoted countless pro bono hours to this legal effort since it began in 2016. Through their dedication, they are advancing the fight for LGBTQ+ equality nationwide.
Through our pro bono partnership with LatinoJustice, we’ve continued to support the Latinx community and initiate reforms that better protect immigrant populations in our communities.
And, as a humanitarian crisis unfolded in Afghanistan earlier this year, NP attorneys across many different practice areas stepped up to support Afghan nationals who were evacuated from their home country. We participated in a training hosted by our longtime partner, the International Refugee Assistance Program, which prepared us to more effectively help Afghans seeking refugee status in the United States.
Our attorneys participate in national and regional organizations that promote diversity in the legal profession, including the California Minority Counsel Program, the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity, and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). These programs provide important avenues for us to drive positive change at the local level. I am especially proud to congratulate NP partner and Chief Diversity Officer Joe Ortego, who earned recognition from MCCA as a 2021 Rainmaker for his distinguished practice in complex commercial disputes and his deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Our firm embraces our responsibility to create a positive impact wherever we can. DEI resides at the heart of this mission. We are proud of our DEI work in 2021, but we know there is more work to be done. We must continue to improve and enhance our performance in 2022. And we are committed to continuing that important work in 2022.