Vault Honors the Best Law Firms for Diversity

by Vault Law Editors | August 05, 2013

On Friday, August 2, Vault hosted its third Annual Diversity Awards in Washington, DC. At the awards ceremony, Vault recognized the top-ranked law firms for diversity. Once again—for the fifth straight year—Carlton Fields was ranked the No. 1 firm for Overall Diversity.

The 2014 Diversity Rankings are based on the results of Vault’s annual Associate Survey, in which nearly 17,000 associates took part this year. As part of the survey, law firm associates were asked to rate their employers on a variety of issues, including diversity initiatives and recruitment efforts with respect to women, minorities, LGBT attorneys, and attorneys with disabilities. We then averaged the scores in all four categories to determine the Best Law Firms for Overall Diversity. The firms that top our Diversity Rankings received the highest ratings from their own associates for their commitment to advancing diversity and fostering an inclusive workplace.

Carlton Fields not only ranked No. 1 Overall this year, but also came in No. 1 for each individual diversity category. While the Florida-based firm has been the top-ranked firm for Women and Minorities since 2010, this is the first time it was named No. 1 for LGBT Diversity. This year’s rankings also include a new category for Individuals with Disabilities, and Carlton Fields took top honors in that ranking as well.

Diversity and inclusiveness are hallmarks of Carlton Fields’ culture and represent part of the firm’s appeal. “The very real commitment to diversity attracted me to the firm,” said one Carlton Fields associate. Another observed that “the firm is very interested in diversity and helps to make accommodations via alternative work schedules for women or men who need it for various reasons.”

Ropes & Gray, the No. 2 firm in Overall Diversity, has also been a consistent presence in Vault’s Diversity Rankings. In addition to its overall ranking, the firm ranks No. 3 in Diversity for Minorities, for LGBT and for Individuals with Disabilities, and No. 5 in Diversity for Women. Associates laud the firm’s “genuine” commitment to diversity, noting that “this has been a focus area for the firm in recent years and seems to be paying off.”

Littler Mendelson, which ranks No. 3 Overall, also ranks among the top 10 firms in each individual category. It is No. 2 in Minority Diversity and Disability Diversity, No. 3 in Diversity for Women and No. 7 in LGBT Diversity. “Littler is probably the best firm when it comes to diversity of any sort,” said one associate at the firm. Another agreed that “Littler is committed to hiring women and minorities and makes an active effort to make everyone feel welcome.”

Jenner & Block, which ties with Debevoise & Plimpton at No. 4 in Overall Diversity, also appears in each of the individual rankings. Jenner was a long-time leader of the LGBT rankings but this year takes second place behind Carlton Fields. The firm also ranks No. 8 in Diversity for Women, No. 11 in Diversity for Minorities and No. 13 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities. Jenner associates say that diversity is a deeply held value at their firm. As one respondent explained, “Commitment to diversity is in Jenner’s DNA. Jenner included women and minorities in its partnership long before it was cool.”

Debevoise & Plimpton, also No. 4 for Overall Diversity, ranks among the top 10 firms in all four sub-categories as well. The firm is No. 4 in Diversity for Women, No. 6 in Disability Diversity, No. 9 in Diversity for Minorities and No. 10 in LGBT Diversity. Associates at Debevoise say the firm provides a “highly respectful and inclusive environment, second to none.”

Schiff Hardin, whose only diversity ranking last year was a 20th-place spot for Minority Diversity, this year not only ranks in all five categories but also appears among the top 10 in four of them. The firm is ranked No. 5 in Overall Diversity, No. 2 in Diversity for Women, No. 6 in Diversity for Minorities, No. 8 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities and No. 16 in LGBT Diversity. As one associate said, “Diversity is a major priority for the firm and the firm appears to be genuinely committed to increasing diversity at all levels.”

Some of the other top-ranking firms for diversity this year include:

  • Shook, Hardy & Bacon (No. 6 in Overall Diversity; No. 4 in Diversity for Minorities; No. 5 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities; No. 7 in Diversity for Women; No. 14 for LGBT Diversity).  
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP (No. 7 in Overall Diversity; No. 5 in Diversity for Minorities; No. 6 in Diversity for LGBT; No. 11 in Diversity for Women; No. 16 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities)
  • Alston & Bird LLP (No. 8 in Overall Diversity; No. 8 in Diversity for Minorities; No. 8 in Diversity for LGBT; No. 9 in Diversity for Women; No. 15 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities)
  • Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz (No. 9 in Overall Diversity; No. 6 in Diversity for Women; No. 7 in Diversity for Minorities; No. 10 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities)
  • Paul Hastings LLP (No. 10 in Overall Diversity; No. 7 in Diversity for Disabilities; No. 13 in Diversity for Women; No. 13 in Diversity for Minorities; No. 13 in Diversity for LGBT)
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP (No. 11 in Overall Diversity; No. 10 in Diversity for Minorities; No. 11 for in Diversity for LGBT; No. 12 in Diversity for Women; No. 17 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities)
  • Foley Hoag LLP (No. 12 in Overall Diversity; No. 5 for in Diversity for LGBT; No. 15 in Diversity for Minorities; No. 18 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities)
  • Irell & Manella LLP (No. 4 in Diversity for LGBT; No. 12 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities; No. 22 in Overall Diversity)
  • Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP (No. 4 in Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities; No. 12 in Diversity for LGBT)

 View the full 2014 Vault Rankings of the Best Law Firms for Diversity.

Filed Under: Job Search | Law | Workplace Issues


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