Dewey & LeBoeuf

Dewey & LeBoeuf

2008 Sager Award Winner

Northeast Region

Vivian Polak
Chair of the Diversity Committee

Created by the 2007 merger of Dewey Ballantine LLP and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP, Dewey & LeBoeuf is emerging as a leader in diversity in the Northeast region.

“There was no question that diversity would not only be a priority for the combined firm, but also a key element in the firm’s overall business strategy,” explains Vivian Polak, the chair of the firm’s diversity committee. Within two weeks of the merger, a newly established diversity committee of thirty partners and thirty associates met to begin the process of creating a new strategy and establishing new initiatives designed to weave the priorities of diversity throughout the fabric of the new firm.

The new diversity committee has focused on the recruitment, retention, and promotion of diverse attorneys and administrative staff, as well as on the creation of programs for outreach to diverse communities. Some recent accomplishments of the committee include the completion of a series of diversity workshop sessions, the creation of a pilot program for mentoring diverse mid-level associates, and the establishment of a process to formalize the organization of affinity groups for diverse communities at the firm.

Frank Adams
Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee

In its recruitment efforts, the firm uses a multi-layered strategy to attract diverse candidates. It partners with law-school affinity groups and with pipeline and community organizations to reach out to and work with the best students at law schools, colleges, and high schools. “In addition, we are launching a pilot ‘ambassador program’ with six law schools, whereby diverse students at the schools will work with associates at the firm to explore ways in which the firm can better partner and communicate with the student body,” says Frank Adams, co-chair of the diversity committee. “For example, we plan to offer a practical training session for diverse law students on how to succeed as a summer associate.”

Mindful of its desire to increase the number of minorities at the partner level, the firm has created a promotion subcommittee of the diversity committee. Comprised solely of partners, the group is dedicated to ensuring that diverse associates get the guidance, support, and training necessary to have the opportunity to attain firm partnership. In just one year, the percentage of minority equity partners in the Northeast region (including offices in Albany, Boston, Hartford, and New York City) increased from 4.9% to 8.8%.

“The Sager Award for the Northeast region serves as a positive reflection on, and celebration of, the firm’s hard work and accomplishments,” states Polak. “Most importantly, it reenergizes our efforts and raises the bar with respect to our programs and goals to continue to improve on diversity, inclusion, and respect in all aspects of the firm’s culture.”

Polak understands that change is gradual, and every step requires careful consideration. “As we continually consider and pilot new initiatives, we understand that some have greater or more lasting results than others. With that in mind, we systematically step back to reassess our goals, our initiatives, and our overall strategy.” DB

From the November/December 2008 issue of Diversity & The Bar®

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