As the director of attorney recruiting and retention for a global law firm, I enjoy and take very seriously the role of ensuring that our recruiting process includes talented attorneys from all of life’s varied paths. As a human being, I find it both fascinating and enlightening to meet and speak with a variety of accomplished individuals when our paths overlap. As a business professional, I know it is critical to our firm’s success that we hire and retain high performers of diverse backgrounds who can best represent our global network of clients.
Our firm’s Professional Development and Inclusion Group works very closely with the Attorney Recruiting and Retention Department. Like most law firms, we sponsor and attend a number of regional and national diversity job fairs, post our openings on diversity job boards, and network at diversity conferences. We expend substantial time and resources to maximize our impact at these events. Are these efforts sufficient? Not even close.
At Ogletree Deakins, connecting with and referring talented diverse attorneys is a shared goal accomplished by the efforts of many. The firm’s managing shareholder is extremely active in recruiting and hiring diverse shareholders. Our board of directors and office managing shareholders respond to referrals from clients, peers, law schools, and contacts. Firm associates are involved in the events of various bar associations, chambers, and non-profits where they network and refer possible candidates. Members of the diversity steering committee, on which I am privileged to serve, work in the aforementioned capacities and follow up with candidates and offices. Surely, this is more than adequate? Not quite.
It is part of our firm culture to work in teams and to continuously improve our processes and ourselves. While attending diversity job fairs and conferences, we make suggestions for resume enhancements, advise on best approaches to a particular firm or practice area, and share our connections. A recent experience at the Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair strongly reinforced this practice for me. This was Ogletree Deakins’ first year as a sponsor and participant. A shareholder and I were privileged to meet with impressive LGBT candidates from locations around the country. We took the time to listen and offer guidance, even in the constraints of this structured setting. The candidates compared our direct and informative discussions very favorably against some of our peers, who sent more junior representatives and conducted standard job fair interviews. We have continued the dialogue with a number of those we met, and we were fortunate to hire one of those contacts.
Ogletree Deakins has additional opportunities for contact with diverse attorney candidates through the hundreds of resumes the firm receives each month. We respond to each submission and when declining a candidate, we give straightforward feedback about the skills and experience needed for the open position. Our attorneys and professional staff are very involved in their communities, serving on boards and volunteering their time. Many of us mentor and connect with those who seek our guidance whether or not they are candidates for positions within our firm. We consider our responsibilities to include being good citizens. But I certainly don’t suggest our motives to be solely altruistic. In addition to being of assistance, we realize that by being more inclusive and approachable, we are broadening the circle of professionals who recognize Ogletree Deakins as a quality firm of individuals who live up to their stated core values. In our ever expanding universe of communication, each of those opinions matter, and each is likely to share the experience with others, enhancing our ability to attract accomplished legal professionals.
We will continue to make progress toward the firm’s goals of inclusive recruiting and hiring only through the collaborative efforts of all of its stakeholders. So are we there yet? You know the answer—our journey continues.