workplaces that value individuality, however, more and more law firms
are creating attractive environments where diverse attorneys stay, grow
and advance to the partnership level. Some of the leading firms’ best
•Developing pipeline programs. Law firms are collaborating with
state and local bar associations to promote the profession and provide
law-school scholarships to financially assist needy students.
Sutherland: Diversity Makes for a
Stronger, More Productive Firm
Mark D. Wasserman
Diversity plays a leading role at Sutherland
Asbill & Brennan and helps the firm to better compete and serve its clients.
“We believe that diverse skills, knowledge and viewpoints make us a stronger,
more productive firm,” says Mark D.
Wasserman, Managing Partner.
Sutherland has successfully promoted
inclusivity because of a firmwide commitment that extends from its partners to its
Executive Committee and is overseen by a
28-member Diversity Committee chaired by partner Allegra Lawrence-Hardy. The firm also has a formal diversity plan with support staff,
overseen by Diversity Director Cheryl Lomax. The plan’s goals are reviewed annually for compliance. Sutherland’s Diversity Committee
and its Diversity Director are aided by Director of Professional Development Kristy Weathers, who works on retention and advancement,
including Sutherland’s mentoring and training programs.
“We believe that obtaining and maintaining a diverse firm must
come from a holistic approach that involves everyone and every part
of the firm, including recruiting, professional development, associate
life and partner development,” explains Wasserman, who serves on
the Diversity Committee.
The firm is proactive in diverse attorney recruitment. It participates
in diversity-oriented job fairs, including the Southeastern Minority
Job Fair and the Lavender Law Conference, and conducts on-campus
interviews at Howard University School of Law. Sutherland also works
closely with law school administrators as well as student organizations,
such as the Black Law Students Association (BLSA).
Diversity not only helps Sutherland to compete, but it benefits its
clients. “We at Sutherland understand that diversity enhances our
value to clients by allowing us to staff our client teams with professionals
who possess broad experiences and perspectives,” Wasserman says.
The firm is also helping the profession to become more diverse.
Sutherland has been involved in the Lawyers Committee for Civil
Rights Under Law and the American Bar Association’s Task Force on
Minorities in the Law. It has also participated in professional groups
that foster diversity and is a founding member of the Atlanta Large
Law Firm Diversity Alliance. “Sutherland is committed to promoting
diversity within the firm and in the legal profession,” Wasserman says.
Activities by Associates
at Large Law Firms
Source: North Carolina Law Review
Participate on the Firm Recruitment Committee
50 38% 41% 43%
30 26% 22%
Join Partners for Breakfast or Lunch
Spend Recreational Time with Partners
Participate at Least Monthly in Bar, Civic or Nonprofit Group
30 27% 27%
White Men White Women Blacks
Latinos Asian Americans
•Communicating a commitment. “Diversity has to be embedded
within your culture and demonstrated at all levels, including senior
partners and rain makers,” Shah explains. That’s why an increasing
number of firms are asking senior partners to recruit at diversity job