Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values at Nixon Peabody. These values drive our approach to client service, the culture we foster for our people, and the positive impact we deliver to the places we call home.
Each year, we take purposeful steps to advance our DEI goals, moving the needle in our firm and the broader legal profession. We listen to the needs of our colleagues, recruit talent from a diverse array of backgrounds, offer abundant opportunities for career development, and strengthen our connections to the communities we serve.
2023 was a pivotal year in our DEI journey. We celebrated our sixth consecutive year earning Mansfield Certification Plus recognition from legal industry incubator Diversity Lab, solidifying our role as a law firm committed to diversifying our leadership ranks. We celebrated the election of a diverse and dynamic class of new partners, and welcomed a new slate of equity partners that is more than 40 percent women.
We continue to team up with clients who share our goal of increasing inclusion and belonging. As a symbol of these partnerships, our client U.S. Bank recently recognized Nixon Peabody with its “Invested in Diversity” award. (Read on for more about this honor.)
And, we’ve optimized new technology to integrate DEI in every stage of our workflow, recruitment, and collaboration processes.
We’re proud to celebrate the progress we’ve made over the past year, and we are excited for the progress we will continue to make in 2024.
For Our People
By the Numbers
We continue to make measurable progress in diversifying our leadership roles. Notably, we welcomed one of NP’s most diverse new partner classes this year, which includes 57% women attorneys, 29% racially and ethnically diverse attorneys, and 14% LGBTQ+ attorneys. These attorneys will officially join the firm partnership February 1, 2024.
Of the attorneys who joined the firm in 2023, 66% identify as members of underrepresented groups in the legal profession.
Our efforts have earned us Mansfield Certification Plus for a sixth consecutive year. This recognition from Diversity Lab affirms our commitment to a series of progressive DEI milestones, including ensuring that historically underrepresented attorneys comprise at least 30% of the candidate pool we consider for our leadership roles and committees. Our Certification Plus status is a testament not only to our efforts but tangible achievements in the arena: As of this year, colleagues who identify as members of underrepresented groups comprise 42% of our office managing partners, 50% of our practice group leaders, and 60% of our compensation committee.
Move the Needle
As founding members of the Move the Needle Fund (MTN), we continue to advance this important initiative—focusing on hiring, retaining, and promoting diverse talent while supporting our people and communities.
Over the past year, we’ve also expanded our use of the Mansfield Rule for Workflow app, designed to reduce, interrupt, and ultimately eliminate the unconscious bias that can influence how work is assigned and teams are built at BigLaw firms. We encourage all of our practice groups to leverage this app as part of their day-to-day workflow, and the result has been well-received among our colleagues. Our success in implementing this app earned us the Technology Law Award from Legalweek this year.
We also support the professional growth of our diverse lawyers through MTN’s OnTrack Sponsorship, Focused Five, and the Black Affinity Network, which foster business development and connection opportunities for participating attorneys.
For Our Clients
DEI serves as the cornerstone of our partnership with clients like U.S. Bank, with whom we work to expand inclusion and belonging in the projects we pursue together. This year, we were proud to receive the “Invested in Diversity” award from U.S. Bank’s Law Division, which recognizes Nixon Peabody’s ongoing dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the legal profession.
U.S. Bank’s commitment to DEI represents essential values that are integral to the company’s culture, and its Law Division collaborates with outside counsel to advance DEI in the legal profession. The annual “U.S. Bank Invested in Diversity” honor is presented to a law firm that works closely with U.S. Bank and is making a meaningful difference for DEI. This year’s award specifically recognizes the efforts of NP’s Corporate Trust team, led by partners Robert Coughlin, Amelia Charamba, and Catherine Ng, as well as a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) team, led by partners John Marti and Emily McKinney, counsel Sumeet Sharma, and associate Nuryllen (Nury) Aguasvivas.
Earlier this year, U.S. Bank selected Nury as one of 14 associates from among several law firms to participate in the 2023 U.S. Bank Spotlight on Talent program. The year-long cohort experience focuses on growing early career lawyers of varying backgrounds through professional and leadership development.
Our relationship with U.S. Bank, and their own commitment to increasing opportunity, demonstrates just how integral DEI is to the success of businesses today.
Embracing that mission, we continue to offer leadership and guidance to companies navigating their DEI journeys. Since launching our industry-leading DEI Strategic Services group, we’ve worked with several large clients to address their DEI needs, including a publicly traded major food company seeking to diversify its franchisee candidate pool and audit its racial equity practices. We’ve also implemented customized metrics to help organizations understand their current DEI climate, and developed programs tailored to their specific needs.
For Our Firm
As we progress in our DEI goals, we’re proud to receive recognition from some of the industry’s top leaders. These awards cement the difference we’ve made to date, and inform our future priorities. This year, Chambers USA selected NP for its Diversity & Inclusion Award for “Environment & Sustainability: Outstanding Firm.” This award celebrates NP for our “dedication to sustainability, taking a holistic approach that includes pro bono, philanthropy, internal initiatives, community efforts, and client work.” For the 17th consecutive year, we scored a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. And, we optimized our pro bono resources to advance gender equity and racial justice nationwide—earning us recognition from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association through its Beacon of Justice Award.
Our commitment to DEI starts at the top. NP CEO and Managing Partner Steve Zubiago, in conjunction with firm leaders, embraces diversity as part of the fabric of our firm and lives out this commitment day to day. This year, Steve earned the “Ally of the Year” award at the Women, Influence, and Power in Law Conference, signifying his commitment to empowering women lawyers at NP and beyond. Steve’s award is a testament to the thoughtful DEI agenda-setting at the very top levels of our firm, which trickles down throughout our organization.
Attorneys and professional staff across NP serve as ambassadors for DEI within their own communities. Industry organizations across the country—including Rochester Business Journal, Crain’s New York, Athena Women’s Council, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, and the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association—have recognized our colleagues for their trailblazing achievements in this space.
For Our Communities
In keeping with firm tradition, we teamed up with key external and internal advocates who share our DEI commitments to create signature events and virtual content centering on issues important to underrepresented groups in our communities.
This year, we hosted a book signing and conversation with Helen Wan—author of the award-winning novel-turned-Netflix show The Partner Track—to discuss her journey through BigLaw as an Asian American attorney. We also heard from Catherine Frymark—executive vice president of communications at Mattel—about her career journey and involvement in the phenomenal success of the Barbie movie. And, Kim Barker Lee—executive vice president and chief legal officer at Bally’s Corporation—joined us to discuss her illustrious career in gaming, and her rise to leadership as a woman in the law. Catherine and Kim were part of our recurring “Let’s Talk” series, which showcases dynamic women leaders across industries as they discuss their paths to leadership.
And, we rolled up our sleeves for our second annual NP Impact Week of Service, which brought together more than 500 of our colleagues to give back and strengthen our communities. Across the firm, we participated in service projects that empowered communities and people in need, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups.
Week of Service builds on our year-round pro bono and social impact initiatives, through which we protect and empower marginalized members of our community.
Over the course of the year, we’ve achieved many milestones for our pro bono clients, including a litigation victory in our longstanding effort to end a discriminatory practice against transgender Iowans. Through this litigation and other initiatives, we continue to use pro bono as a vehicle to create more equitable communities for all.
We view these firmwide programs and pro bono priorities as critical to fostering the kind of culture that celebrates and empowers diversity at all levels.