Diversity and Inclusion
Today’s business leaders see diversity and inclusion as a fundamental value, and so do we. We always have.
Our commitment to diversity goes far beyond rhetoric and initiatives. We strongly believe we build better teams, forge better client relationships, and provide better customer service because of our diverse team of professionals.
We seek and welcome the talents of those from different age groups, genders, identities, races, or cultural backgrounds. These are the threads that make up the fabric of our firm.
As a global law firm with more than 40 offices on five continents, K&L Gates has built a workplace that is intrinsically diverse in experiences, perspectives, and ideas. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is the force that propels and supports our dedication to our people and our culture. At K&L Gates, one of our core values is to create and sustain a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture that encourages satisfaction and productivity for all of our lawyers and professional staff. It is our strategic priority to maintain an inclusive culture that enriches the experience of our lawyers, enabling them to better serve our clients. We do this by:
- Ensuring that inclusion is always top-of-mind;
- Expanding the K&L Gates profile in the talent market; and
- Executing a talent development program that improves lawyer integration and retention.
Goals and action steps related to each of these areas are reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis by the firm’s Diversity and Women in the Profession committees, led by two women equity partners who report quarterly on the committees’ progress to the firm’s Management Committee and oversee robust budgets and our employee resource groups, which include groups for women lawyers; LGBT employees and allies; lawyers of color; working parents; veterans; and lawyers with disabilities. These groups spearhead programs ranging from women’s business mentorship training in Portland and promoting mental health awareness in London and Melbourne, to assisting transgender individuals with name changes in Melbourne, Pittsburgh, and Sydney.
As a firm, we pledge to listen, be educated, take action, and work together to help in the fight to end racism, and to foster a more equitable and inclusive society. We acknowledge the impact of institutional racism in our society and are committed to working to address the needs of our Black and other diverse colleagues, clients, friends, allies, and supporters.
Launching A Major Pro Bono Initiative
We launched K&L Gates for Equal Justice, a joint diversity and pro bono effort that harnesses our legal skills to promote equal justice under the law. Our efforts center on voting rights, criminal justice reform, and equal justice for indigenous people. As of today, over 250 K&L Gates lawyers have joined and started work on this initiative.
Leading By Example
The tone at the top is set by a firm’s leadership and firm culture is directly influenced by its leadership. K&L Gates’ Management Committee promotes global diversity and inclusion as a strategic imperative, as demonstrated by:
- Global Management Committee in 2020 is composed of 25% women lawyers, 25% lawyers of color, 6% LGBTQ+ lawyers, and 6% veteran lawyers.
- Recruitment of the 2020 summer associate class composed of 53% women students and 34% students of color, 13% LGBTQ+ students, and 2% disabled students.
- Hiring an incoming 2019 First Year associate class composed of 48% women lawyers and 27% lawyers of color.
Advancing Initiatives Around the Globe
We carefully evaluate and assess our successful implementation of this core value through three measurable factors: (1) recruiting, (2) professional development and retention, and (3) legal community outreach. The firm has various employee resource groups at the firmwide and local office levels, including groups for:
- Women lawyers;
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) employees and allies;
- Lawyers of color;
- Working parents; and
- Veterans; and
- Lawyers with disabilities.
These groups work with firm management to drive change at all levels and to ensure that diversity, inclusivity, and gender equity, in line with our values, remains top of mind for our firm. These committees help to advance initiatives across our entire platform.
The Recruiting Process
Our recruiting and retention practices reflect our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We maximize every opportunity to diversify our candidate pool, and to ensure that every candidate we interview understands and honors our firm values and the values of the clients we serve.
We have a mandatory interviewer training program for all lawyers who are responsible for interviewing both entry level and lateral candidates. The training centers on using a structured approach to interviewing with the intended effect to minimize bias during the interview process.
Performance Evaluation Training
We continue to focus upon and conduct firmwide training on how to write an effective performance evaluation. We explored the way unconscious bias affects writing and presentation of reviews and how to ensure that we are minimizing the role of bias in evaluations. The training is conducted annually.
We have a pilot program of “stay interviews” with associates. These interviews focus on learning what the firm can do to keep associates engaged and integrated with the firm, and to identify any potential issues that might affect their decision to stay at the firm. We believe input from associates is critical to determine where we should focus our efforts to ensure the most significant impact on our engagement and retention strategy. We look forward to receiving input from our pilot group and, if successful, implementing it more broadly across the firm’s global platform.
Facilitating Open Dialogue About Inclusion
To further the goal of inclusion, we recently conducted a live, firmwide training for every lawyer and staff member of the firm to refresh and affirm our expectations of diversity and inclusion across all levels and all offices. All K&L Gates employees have had the opportunity to participate in anonymous, online, and real time internal facilitated forums that encourage open dialogue about how we can best continue to optimize our diversity and inclusion efforts.
Mansfield Rule 4.0
We are actively seeking Mansfield Rule certification. The firm has applied for certification and will be conducting the year long process for certification with an estimated certification date of July 2021. The Mansfield Rule Certification measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions. Our participation this year is another step towards developing and promoting women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, and disabled lawyers.
Law Firm Antiracism Alliance
We have joined over 240 law firms in taking a stand against racism and social injustice. The Law Firm Antiracism Alliance brings together law firms to work toward eradicating racism. The Alliance creates a collaboration by identifying structural issues that must be corrected to overcome the inherent racism in our system.
At K&L Gates, our lawyers and allied professionals around the world contribute to the important work we are doing to address these issues. We recognize that much work remains to be done and much more progress is required on many fronts. To that end, we encourage everyone to continue educating themselves, engaging in these challenging conversations, working alongside clients and one another in the community, and getting involved in these efforts in any way that inspires you. We take these steps as a firm to better understand our shared history and to improve the outlook for our shared future. This moment in history calls our industry and our society to action, and we intend to answer that call.
Reconciliation Action Plan
We share a vision for a just, equitable, and reconciled Australia.
To achieve that vision, we must engage in dialogue with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to understand how we can actively support reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our business activities and communities more broadly.
Framing our approach to the multifaceted tasks of reconciliation is our 2021-2023 Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
Hosting Conversations About Race
We hosted a speaker series, Conversations About Race that focused on the historical subjugation of Black people and the lingering effects of systemic racism in our society. We are pleased to share the recordings of the leaders who educated and inspired us as part of that series: Derrick Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Dr. Harry Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund; the Honorable Bernice B. Donald of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley; and Dean Kevin R. Johnson of UC Davis Law School.
Hosting Conversations for Women
K&L Gates’ Women in the Profession (WIP) Committee has presented a series of conversations for its women lawyers and others focused on issues affecting women in both their careers and families. This has included discussions around topics such as the impact of Covid-19 on the careers of women lawyers from a panel of two former Chairs of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, Bobbi Liebenberg and Stephanie Scharf, and ABA Past President Paulette Brown, as well as helping children and families cope with change presented by psychologist Dr. Kristen Ohlenforst.
We have a toolkit containing resources such as articles, books, podcasts, and films, that we use to learn more about the subject of race in multiple ways and from various vantage points.
Reflecting On The Lessons We’ve Learned
We prepared reflection and discussion guides to help everyone understand and internalize the lessons we learned from each of the speakers in our Conversations About Race series, and to help everyone foster dialogue around these issues within our firm and our community.
Diversity and Inclusion is in our DNA.
Our firmwide Diversity Committee strives to ensure that diversity and inclusion are a consistent consideration in all facets of the firm, from its leadership and management practices to its human resources and financial decisions. These principles are woven into the fabric of our firm, and are the threads that help further tie us to our clients and the communities we serve.
Within the firm, the committee builds a diverse workforce and fosters an inclusive culture that encourages a fulfilling professional experience for all of our lawyers and staff. We have employee resource groups for women lawyers; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees and allies; lawyers of color; working parents; veterans; and lawyers with disabilities.
It also is engaged in several recruiting programs, from fellowships that grant full-tuition scholarships to clerkships that are split between our firm and a participating corporate legal department. Additionally, we recruit diverse first-year law students to receive targeted mentoring, career development opportunities as Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Scholars. Learn more about these efforts in the Law Student Diversity Initiatives section to follow.
Our Diversity Committee also shapes our diversity efforts outside the firm, forging strong partnerships with many groups with which we have a shared commitment to diversity. Through these alliances, we sponsor, attend, and speak at dozens of events each year. Examples of these partner organizations are below.
Nurturing and growing diversity initiatives with our clients is of crucial importance to the committee and our firm. Through those efforts, we will present a stronger united force for change in the profession while strengthening our relationships with valued clients. Our clients not only encourage our efforts, they award them. Clients like Chevron, Microsoft, and Lockheed Martin Corporation have formally recognized our firm’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.
Promoting gender equality within our firm and our communities.
Thanks to the determined efforts of many courageous women and men around the world, women’s equality in the global workforce has made great strides, yet we recognize there is more to accomplish. Whether it’s raising awareness of implicit bias, supporting work-life balance, or fostering a strong network of women professionals, our firmwide Women in the Profession (WIP) Committee thoughtfully assembles resources, initiatives, and opportunities designed to help women advance their careers.
In addition to spearheading programs such as on business and professional development and mentoring, the committee has been instrumental in developing several notable programs benefitting all lawyers. Among them is the “Ramp Down, Ramp Up, & Re-Integration” program available to any lawyer taking any kind of planned, approved leave of absence. This program reduces utilization targets before and after the period of planned leave without an adverse impact on compensation, to help smooth the transition from, and to, a standard work schedule.
Under the leadership of the WIP Committee, the firm participates, sponsors, and maintains memberships in relevant events and organizations, and has been widely recognized for its accomplishments in supporting and empowering women in the workforce.
We are devoted to creating and sustaining pipeline programs aimed at increasing the pool of diverse talent. The firm regularly participates in a variety of programs and partnerships to attract and support top legal talent from wide-ranging backgrounds and is a sponsor and/or participant in a number of diversity-related events and organizations.
Each year, we sponsor several opportunities for diverse 1L law students, including the:
- Leadership Council on Legal Diversity 1L Scholars Program
- 1L Diversity Fellowship in our Seattle office
- K&L Gates Diversity Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
- Gregoire Fellows Program
In addition, we recently expanded upon a diversity recruiting program which requires the close partnership and engagement of in-house counsel with key clients. The program, entitled “K&L Gates: The Power of Partnership,” offers a first-year law school student a unique opportunity to experience legal work in both a firm and in-house setting. The firm has established this national diversity recruiting and development program to partner with its clients to build a pipeline of diverse candidates for K&L Gates and the profession of law more broadly.
Not only do our fellowship programs reflect our commitment to public service and diversity, they’re also a great way for law students to make significant legal service contributions while gaining substantial legal experience. Learn more.
Awarded a 100 Percent Score in the 2021 Corporate Equality Index
For the eleventh consecutive year, the Human Rights Campaign awarded K&L Gates a 100 percent score in the organization’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), and named the firm a “Top Law Firm for Equality.”
Recognized as a Top Performer
K&L Gates has frequently been named a “Top Performer” by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). The designation recognizes active LCLD member corporations and law firms who have dedicated the most time and energy to participating in LCLD programs and supported its mission of creating a more inclusive legal profession.
Awarded Gold Standard Certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum
Global law firm K&L Gates LLP has been awarded a United States Gold Standard Certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) for a ninth time, recognizing the high levels of success by the firm’s women as partners and leaders. K&L Gates is one of only 15 Am Law 100 firms to meet all six criteria for Gold Certification this year, with only five other Am Law 100 firms also having received the certification for nine years or more.
- Since 2010, K&L Gates has consistently been named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” and a “Top Law Firm for Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign.
- Recognized as an “Employer of Choice for Gender Equality” by the Australia Workplace Gender Equality Agency for two consecutive years.
- Honored as a top achiever in advancing diversity within the legal profession by Microsoft’s Law Firm Diversity Program, tying for first place for our work in increasing diversity across three key areas: the firm’s overall partnership and leadership, among Microsoft’s relationship partners, and on Microsoft’s client matters.
- Recognized by longtime client Chevron U.S.A. for the firm’s commitment to inclusion and diversity during Chevron’s 2018 annual law firm diversity awards program. The award recognized Chevron law firm partners that have distinguished themselves through their commitment to diversity in the legal profession and by fostering an inclusive work environment.
- Recognized by Lockheed Martin Corporation in 2016 for excellence in diversity and inclusion. The honor was based on the strength and diversity of the client’s outside legal teams, including the percentage of minority and female timekeepers working on the client’s matters. This was the first time an outside law firm had been recognized for excellence in the area of diversity and inclusion.
As a firm, we reject racism and social injustice. We believe that education is key to activate change; therefore, we are actively hosting a speaker series titled, Conversations About Race to convene voices around diversity.
As part of our ongoing commitment to increasing diversity in our ranks, we have joined the 117 law firms that have pledged to adopt the Mansfield Rule 4.0. To achieve this certification by Diversity Lab, at least 30% of leadership candidates must be from historically underrepresented groups, including women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities.
We are proud to have been awarded a United States Gold Standard Certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum for the ninth time, recognizing the high levels of success by the firm's women as partners and leaders. K&L Gates is one of only 15 Am Law 100 firms to meet all six criteria for Gold Certification this year, with only five other Am Law 100 firms also having received the certification for nine years or more.