Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

2008 Sager Award Winner

West Region

Lorraine McGowen
Partner and Diversity Chair

The firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has a longstanding commitment to diversity. The firm recognized the importance of diversity early on—they have had a Diversity Committee for more than sixteen years.

“Diversity is a continuing priority at Orrick,” says Lorraine McGowen, a partner and diversity chair at the firm. “Being an inclusive firm means including everyone—we strive to benefit all our attorneys. We offer affinity groups for minorities, gays and lesbians, women and men, as well as an affinity group that assists our attorneys that have served in the military. We have a forum for new parents. As a global firm, our programs aren’t restricted to the United States. We are expansive, and pass on our benefits to the global community.”

Orrick has a diversity committee in each U.S. office; the chairs of each committee work with McGowen to assist in recruiting efforts, associate orientation, the summer program, and many other aspects of firm life.

“The firm-wide diversity committee started in 1993. It enriches our firm by having individuals of diverse backgrounds participating in our service to our clients, the communities in which we have offices, and in our firm. It’s also being able to provide our clients with creative solutions to their most complex issues, because we have individuals with a myriad of backgrounds and experiences actively participating on client teams,” McGowen explains.

(L to R) Veta Richardson of MCCA, Lorraine McGowen of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and Christopher Reynolds of Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.

Orrick prides itself on its early recognition of domestic partnerships. In 2003, the firm added language expressly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “gender identity and expression.” In the early 1990s, Orrick began providing health insurance to its employees and their domestic partners, and continues to do so today.

The firm established a formal mentoring program for summer associates, new lawyers, lateral associates, and newly promoted partners. Mentors act as a guide for new associates, and make them feel more comfortable at the firm. Orrick continually provides educational opportunities to help each attorney succeed. For example, mid-level associates participate in a development retreat that helps them better transition to a more-senior role at the firm.

Orrick also participates in minority job fairs sponsored by law schools, Vault, and the MCCA. In 2003, Orrick established the Women’s Career Initiative to affirm the firm’s commitment to recruiting, promoting, and retaining women attorneys. The annual conference provides a forum to discuss women’s issues.

The firm encourages its lawyers to participate in programs sponsored by specialty bar associations by paying membership dues for one minority; women’s; or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender bar association membership for each associate that is interested in joining. DB

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

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