Vinson & Elkins

Vinson & Elkins

2008 Sager Award Winner

South/Southwest Region

Barron Wallace
Chair of the Diversity Committee

Maximizing diversity and inclusion have been core goals for Vinson & Elkins for quite some time. The firm’s leadership is committed to hiring and developing the best legal talent, including people of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and perspectives, and to sustaining shared values. In fact, women and minorities make up 22% of the firm’s management committee, which includes Barron Wallace, who is also chair of the diversity committee.

Vinson & Elkins’ demographic profile demonstrates its commitment to diversity. Over the past three years, the firm has aggressively increased the number of minority and women partners through lateral hires and internal promotions. Women make up 18% of the firm’s partners, and minorities make up 5.5% of the partnership. In 2007, women attorneys made up 46% of the firm’s incoming class. The same class had 23% minority attorneys (including women of color). As of December 2007, 22% of the firm’s associates in the South/Southwest region are minorities, and 45% are women.

As part of its commitment to enhance diversity, Vinson & Elkins invests heavily in the legal talent pipeline. For the past seventeen years, the firm has planted the seeds of future diversity through the firm’s minority scholarship program. Also, V&E actively recruits at more than 30 law schools, and participates in career fairs and summer clerkship programs that reach historically underrepresented groups in the legal profession. An example is the Sunbelt Minority Recruitment Program, which showcases students from 18 ABA-approved law schools in Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The firm also hosts and sponsors initiatives by on-campus racial and ethnic affinity groups at law schools across the country, such as the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), Hispanic Law Student Association (HLSA), and other organizations with diverse memberships.

(L to R): Bill Lowrey of Shell Oil Company, Joe Dilg, Managing Partner of Vinson & Elkins, and Veta Richardson of MCCA

This type of outreach is complimented by strong attorney retention and advancement. The commitment from top management, coupled with enhanced mentoring programs, is responsible for an increase in retention among minority employees.

Vinson & Elkins also hosts events that provide an opportunity to network and develop professional connections to minority associations. In addition, the firm sponsors an ongoing series of inclusion dialogues which examine topical issues related to diversity, such as unconscious bias and the concept of privilege.
“We want to enhance the firm culture, and we know that we can be an even stronger firm because of our increasing diversity,” explains Wallace.

Vinson & Elkins shows no sign of slowing down. “The Sager Award infuses our efforts with increased momentum. It gives us a lift, and it makes us recommit to the work at hand. We have come a long way, but we know that our firm and the legal profession have a long way to go,” Wallace concludes. DB

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

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