We understand that recruitment and hiring is only half of the picture. In order to build a more diverse and inclusive law firm, real attention must also be paid to helping diverse attorneys and staff stay and succeed. Cozen O’Connor has instituted a number of practices and programs intended to dismantle the explicit and implicit barriers to diverse attorney advancement and to promote career-long professional development.
Importantly, Cozen O’Connor looks for opportunities to appoint diverse attorneys to leadership positions within the firm. We know that having diverse members in decision-making roles is a critical way to ensure that those constituencies are heard and represented. In addition, we believe it is vital for young lawyers to see diverse attorneys as members of the board of directors, Management Committee or Hiring Committee, and as chairs of practice groups or office managing partners because it helps them envision a real pathway toward success.
In terms of direct programming, Cozen O’Connor hosts a biennial multi-day Diversity Retreat. Self-identified diverse attorneys from offices across the country are invited to gather along with firm managers and key clients. Research shows that the professional success of diverse attorneys is highly dependent on their connecting with available resources, having a strong community, and finding mentors. These retreats enable diverse attorneys to develop sustaining peer networks, receive training on topics from client pitches to the promotion process, and allow them to provide direct feedback to firm management about Cozen O’Connor’s diversity efforts. By engaging in this dialogue, diverse attorneys can share their wisdom and raise their profile.
All firm attorneys receive mentorship and training, but the firm has developed a tailored mentoring program whereby diverse associates or members may be paired with members of the Diversity Committee or other attorneys who are specifically committed to their success and retention.
Cozen O’Connor hosts speaker series, trainings, and panel discussions throughout the year that focus on raising awareness about issues of diversity, including, for instance, discussions of how unconscious and implicit bias influence retention, promotion, and compensation decisions at law firms and analyses of diversity and inclusion best practices in other peer firms and corporate America.
Finally, Cozen O’Connor tries to foster an internal culture that recognizes diversity and inclusion as being a mission for all of us and not simply an issue for self-identified diverse employees. In our language and in our practices, the firm reinforces the fact that we all benefit from building a more just, diverse, and inclusive workforce.