Inclusion is in our DNA
Weil has held diversity and inclusion as core values since the Firm was founded in 1931, when Frank Weil, Sylvan Gotshal, and Horace Manges found many doors closed to them because of their religious beliefs. We are proud of this legacy of diversity, yet we know we must never grow complacent. This decade has been a turning point in our evolution from a focus on diversity to an emphasis on inclusion. Hearing from our Weil community, we are broadening our reach and bringing people together across all dimensions of difference to find common ground and build meaningful professional relationships.
Our Diverse Firm
We believe the results of our inclusion efforts tell a remarkable story. Today, 18 Firm leaders are LGBT, racial/ethnic minorities, or women serving as heads of departments, offices, or practice groups, or are firmwide committee chairs or Management Committee members. The General Counsel, one of the four department leaders, and four of the 17 Management Committee members are women (24%); two are Asian American; and one is openly gay.
Weil is among the first law firms to establish Professional Development Affinity Groups which:
- Foster internal networking and mentoring relationships among members
- Showcase successful role models
- Cultivate relationships with clients
- Provide two-way communication with Firm leadership
- Host educational programs open to all Weil employees
Weil has five affinity groups:
Conferences: Weil holds biennial individual conferences for its Black Attorney Affinity Group, Asian Attorneys@Weil, Latinos@Weil, and WEGALA (LGBT) affinity groups. The conferences are designed to bring together members from across the Firm’s offices for professional development, internal networking and mentoring, client development, and pipeline efforts. In March 2013, Weil held its third Firmwide Black Attorney Affinity Group Conference in New York City. In October 2013, LGBT attorneys from across the globe convened in Washington, D.C. The Asian Attorney@Weil and Latinos@Weil affinity groups are both holding their Firmwide conferences in Fall 2014.
Since many of the challenges facing women in the workplace transcend borders, Women@Weil, our women's affinity group, also has a global outlook.
- By the numbers: Women represent 33% of European attorneys, 46%of Asian attorneys, and 39% of US attorneys. In 2014, 44%of the partners promoted globally were women.
- TOWER (Taskforce on Women’s Engagement & Retention): A committee of women and men partners are focused on the advancement and development of women attorneys globally.
- Women@Weil: Since many of the challenges facing women in the workplace transcend borders, our women’s affinity group has a global outlook. There is a global Leadership Board that oversees Firmwide efforts, with office leaders spearheading local efforts.
- Mentoring: Women@Weil New York and London launched mentoring circles which include one female partner, one male partner, and five female associates to discuss business and professional development topics. To foster the development of informal mentoring across offices, Women@Weil supports “Mentors Across Borders” to facilitate relationships between women attorneys when they are traveling to other offices.
- Global Business Development Workshops: To address the specific opportunities and challenges women may experience in cultivating client relationships, Women@Weil has developed multiple business development programs including a three-part series delivered Firmwide for associates and a two-part series delivered Firmwide for partners and counsel.
- Career Development: The New York office hosts biennial half-day conferences off-site which include leadership workshops, small group discussions, and networking. The Firm’s European offices hold quarterly workshops showcasing women partner panelists on topics critical to their careers, such as networking and leadership. In 2013, Weil partnered with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Organization resulting in programs across the Firm, such as the Frankfurt/Munich office discussing gender and non-verbal communication.
Diversity Education and Training
In 2011, Weil embarked on an innovative new diversity and inclusion education program requiring all U.S. and London attorneys and staff to participate in annual mandatory diversity workshops. The interactive workshops are customized to provide concrete skills for achieving inclusion. The first sessions introduced the concept of unconscious bias. In 2013, a customized session for the partners tackled concrete, firm-specific ways to provide mentoring and feedback across difference. Recent programs have included Working with Different Generations, Religious Diversity, Managing Cross Cultural Relationships, and Interactive Diversity Theater.
In Continental Europe, following a comprehensive culture assessment, we conducted customized mandatory training workshops for all attorneys and staff.
Think Global, Act Local Approach: Diversity Week
Our approach is to hold inclusion as a firmwide value and empower each office to address the most important diversity issues in its location. Biennially, we hold a Diversity Week to maintain our focus on timely and cutting-edge issues in our locations across the globe. Diversity Week 2013 boasted over 60 events firmwide including an immigration experience panel in five U.S. offices, a women in the workplace discussion in Budapest, and a Lunar New Year community service Project in Hong Kong.
Pay It Forward
Weil Pay It Forward is an inclusion and community service initiative that empowers associate and staff-led teams to turn $1,000 of firm funds into lasting community impact. While the external community impact is profound, the internal connections fostered among colleagues and the opportunities for attorneys and staff at all levels to showcase their leadership skills are equally powerful. Since 2011, 54 teams in 6 cities have raised $388,815.
Filling the Talent Pipeline
- Diversity Fellowship Program: Weil offers scholarship awards to first- and second-year law students to promote greater diversity in law school classes. The winning recipients receive a $10,000 scholarship, contingent upon accepting an offer to join Weil’s summer program. The Firm announced the winners of First-Year Law Student Diversity Fellowships on June 16, 2014. For additional information, including how to apply, click here.
- Mentoring: Weil also performs outreach to urban schools and programs to introduce the legal profession to racial/ethnic minority students. The Firm has hosted middle school students from MS224 through PENCIL, an organization that inspires innovation in NYC's public schools through private-public partnerships. Weil has also hosted high school students from Summer Search for mentoring, college advising, and networking; recent high school graduates from Girls Inc. for their annual “College Shower;” students from college through advanced degree programs for Disability Mentoring Day; and law students from Practicing Attorneys for Law Students for networking workshops.
- Internships: The Firm participates in summer work and internship programs such as Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, the New York City Bar Fellowship, the Judicial Intern Opportunity Program in Dallas and the Posse Foundation’s Scholarship in Washington, D.C.
- Charitable Giving: Weil sponsors over two dozen non-profit organizations from diversity-oriented bar associations to law related organizations and conferences.
Our Finest Hours
Weil's award-winning pro bono program provides legal services to diversity-related causes around the world. Recent examples include same-sex marriage matters, promoting fairness in eyewitness identification in the criminal justice system, and increasing access to higher education for disabled persons.
of Management Committee are women
Firm leaders are LGBT, racial/ethnic minorities, and/or women
languages are spoken by Weil employees worldwide
in 6 cities “Pay it Forward” including raising $388,815