Diversity and inclusion within our law firms is an important topic to discuss as it pertains not only to the overall well-being of our firms, but more importantly, the wellbeing of our firms’ most important resources, our people.
Defining a Diverse Firm
There are different views of what constitutes a diverse firm, but firms can begin to formulate ideas by looking at the uniqueness of their own firm. Diversity in essence is our individual differences. There is no "one size fits all" solution. Once you are able to identify your firm's make-up, you will be better equipped to formulate a plan.
Why 21st Century Firms Value Diversity
Clients value working with a firm that employs a diverse group of attorneys. It improves profitability of the firm and the overall culture and wellness within the firm. Firms that prioritize diversity initiatives have increased employee engagement, leading to an improved recruitment process and higher retention. In the legal field, a diverse group of attorneys and partners can lead to better ideas, solutions and outcomes. This is why many Fortune 500 companies are making a diverse counsel a part of their request for proposals.
Actionable Steps to Creating an Inclusive Firm Culture
- Support of Firm Ownership
- Meaningful advances in diversity require complete support and involvement from firm ownership. People need to see that Diversity and Inclusion is important to leadership and prioritized.
- Expanded Mentorship
- Leaders can fall into the pattern of mentoring and training people of similar backgrounds as their own. By broadening approaches to mentorship, law firms will more clearly recognize the leadership qualifications of a wider pool of attorneys.
- Firm Culture First, Formal Program to Follow
- Diversity begins with daily interactions among firm employees to foster a feeling of mutual respect and mentorship.
- Role of White Males
- Changing or improving firm culture begins with leadership — leadership that historically is often comprised of white males. There needs to be active participation of white males in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives like taking part in formal programs or sitting on the panels that are talking about diversity.
For more actionable advice on Diversity and Inclusion, visit ALA's Diversity Toolkit.
Learn how Bookoff McAndrews became nationally recognized for their firm culture in an interview with panelist Les Bookoff, "Organically Connected: How One Firm's Quest to Attract Top Talent Made Them a National Leader in Diversity."
Partner, Bookoff McAndrews
Les Bookoff is a partner at Bookoff McAndrews PLLC (BoMc), a patent prosecution and counseling firm. For almost 30 years, Les has managed the patent portfolios of Fortune 500 companies and smaller high-tech companies and startups, and has counseled those companies on IP risk management, acquisition of technology, licensing, freedom-to-operate, and due diligence investigations during investments and acquisitions. Just nine years after Les co-founded BoMc, BoMc has grown to over 40 attorneys and 25 staff members. With a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, BoMc was named Chambers “Most Inclusive Firm” in 2020 and Vault’s “Best Midsize Firm to Work For” (including tops for diversity) in 2021. Les currently serves on BoMc’s management and DEI committees.
Associate Attorney, Rogoway Law Group
Alexandra is an Associate Attorney based in the San Francisco office of Rogoway Law Group, PC, a California law firm focusing on cannabis, hemp, and psychedelics law. Alexandra focuses her practice on advising clients in the cannabis industry on a range of regulatory compliance issues, corporate and commercial matters, and supports her firm’s civil litigation practice. Alexandra graduated from University of San Francisco School of Law in 2019. Her perspective is informed by a wide range of experiences working on civil proceedings, including supporting in-house legal teams and working in large and boutique law firm settings on a broad range of civil matters, both transactional and litigation. Alexandra is drawn to the cannabis law practice because of her passion for advising entrepreneurs. With a business degree from Babson College, Alexandra is able to provide both business and legal advice to clients
Director of Operations, Rogoway Law Group
Tiffany Ho joined the legal industry in 2012 at a multinational law firm with offices in the US and Asia. Since joining Rogoway Law Group’s San Francisco office in 2017, Tiffany oversees the firm’s human resources, finance, administrative operations, and marketing functionality as the Director of Operations. She works closely with the Managing Partner as a strategic partner on business planning and practice management. Tiffany is the Vice Chair of ALA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee (2021-2022). Prior to joining the legal industry, Tiffany spent over six years working with children and families with special needs. She remains a strong advocate to amplify voices that have been silenced and to empower those without power.
Attorney, Bookoff McAndrews
Elissa Knoff’s practice includes patent prosecution and client counseling across a broad range of technological areas, including medical devices, computer-implemented technologies, mechanical products, and electronics. Elissa gained further insight into her clients’ goals and motivations through an in-house secondment at a major medical device company. Elissa previously worked as a patent litigator, representing clients in various stages of litigation. Elissa has also worked as a litigation and patent portfolio analyst for a syndicated, subscription-based service that provides information regarding the lifecycle of pharmaceutical products. Prior to entering practice, Elissa served as a law clerk to the Honorable Timothy B. Dyk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Working for a variety of different organizations in different roles has given Elissa a keen eye to what it takes to keep your team happy and engaged.