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by Nicole Weber | July 15, 2014


Today, Vault released its Law Firm Diversity Rankings for 2015 with a brand new No. 1 firm for Best Overall Diversity and new firms landing atop each individual diversity category. A firm’s commitment to diversity directly impacts employee satisfaction, but also the bottom line. Maintaining a diverse workforce is essential to meeting the changing and wide-ranging needs of clients, and clients recognize this fact—they want to work with diverse teams of attorneys who will bring a variety of ideas to the table.

The big news coming out of the rankings this year is Ropes & Gray’s emergence as the Best Law Firm for Diversity, which ends Carlton Fields Jorden Burt’s five-year reign as No. 1. Brand new winners claimed the top spot in each individual diversity category as well. They are as follows:

The rankings are based on the results of Vault’s annual survey, administered earlier this year to nearly 17,000 law firm associates. We asked participants to rate their employers on a variety diversity initiatives including recruitment, retention, promotion and mentoring efforts with respect to minority, women, LGBT individuals, individuals with disabilities and military veterans. We then averaged the scores in all five categories to determine the 25 Best Law Firms for Overall Diversity. Here are the Top 10:

  1. Ropes & Gray
  2. Littler Mendelson
  3. Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
  4. Paul Hastings
  5. Schiff Hardin
  6. Debevoise & Plimpton
  7. Shook, Hardy & Bacon
  8. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner
  9. Alston & Bird
  10. Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

Click here to see the full Diversity Rankings.

While many firms have succeeded in recruiting diverse candidates, promotion and retention still remain a challenge in this profession. We are happy to hear from so many associates who are proud of the work their firms are doing to promote an inclusive and heterogeneous work environment.

In addition to its first place spot in the Overall Diversity ranking, Ropes & Gray ranked No. 1 for Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities and appeared in the Top 5 for each of the other categories as well. According to its associates, the firm works hard to ensure that diversity remains an important focus of the firm by creating “tons of affinity groups and an inclusive environment where diverse employees can meet and support one another.” One associate also notes that Ropes & Gray succeeds in an area of diversity in which many law firms struggle—retention. “The firm is very positive and encouraging of diversity with a range of affinity groups and one-on-one mentoring. Most importantly, our partnership is very diverse.” 

Diversity Remains a Top Priority at Many Firms

Here are some other firms that stood out in this year’s Diversity Rankings:

Littler Mendelson: In addition to taking the runner-up spot in Overall Diversity (trailing Ropes & Gray by a very narrow margin of .06 points), this employment and labor law practice leader secured the No. 1 spot in the Diversity for Minorities category and appeared in the Top 5 for all other categories. Littler associates boasted about the firm’s “inclusion initiatives” and “prominent minority and female partners,” noting that “the firm is devoted to diversity and places an emphasis on it.” One diverse candidate stated, “I came here MOSTLY due to the diversity commitment.”

Carlton Fields Jorden Burt: After sweeping Vault’s Diversity Rankings last year (it earned the No. 1 spot in every category), Carlton Fields Jorden Burt is No. 3 for Overall Diversity this year. Though its five-year run at the top has ended, its associates continue to take great pride in the firm’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment; the firm ranked in the Top 10 in every category.  Associates told Vault that the firm “has done a good job of hiring and promoting women and LGBT individuals” as well as “recruit[ing] minorities by participating in certain job fairs and summer programs.” Additionally, “[c]ompared to other large firms, it feels more culturally rich and inclusive.”

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner: Demonstrating a strong commitment to those who have served the United States, Finnegan took the top spot in Vault’s newest Diversity Rankings category—Diversity for Military Veterans. In addition to creating a “welcoming environment” for military veterans, Finnegan participates in a “large amount of pro bono work taking up appeals for veterans, to the extent that [the firm has] a dedicated attorney and staff in charge of those efforts.” The firm had respectable showings across the board, appearing in the Top 15 of the other categories as well.

Schiff Hardin: Maintaining its No. 5 spot in the Overall Diversity category was hardly Schiff Hardin’s only achievement in this year’s Diversity Rankings. The firm ranked in the Top 15 in every category, including the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings in Diversity for Women and Diversity for Minorities, respectively. According to one associate, the firm’s commitment to diversity “greatly benefits the firm culture and avoids a monolithic and frat-type culture,” perhaps explaining its success in the Diversity for Women category. Additionally, a female associate with a young child noted that “the firm has been very accommodating in allowing attorneys to have alternative working arrangements.”

Foley Hoag: Foley Hoag climbed four spots since last year to take the No. 1 spot in LGBT Diversity. The Boston-based firm also ranked No. 16 in Overall Diversity; No. 17 in Diversity for Women (a category in which it did not rank last year); and No. 24 for Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities. Associates are proud of the firm’s inclusive attitude toward LGBT individuals and told Vault that Foley Hoag is “exceptionally LGBT friendly,” “incredibly supportive of its LGBT associates” and has demonstrated “a strong commitment to LGBT issues.” 

Congratulations to the Best Law Firms for Diversity!

View all Vault Law Rankings for 2015.

Follow me on Twitter @VaultLaw


Filed Under: Law

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