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Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

2001 M STREET, NW, SUITE 600, WASHINGTON, DC 20036, USA
Tel:
Work +1 202 682 7000
Fax:
Fax +1 202 857 0940
Web:
www.weil.com

Diversity and Inclusion

A commitment to diversity and inclusion has been at the core of our firm since Frank Weil, Sylvan Gotshal, and Horace Manges found many doors closed to them because of their religious beliefs. They founded Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP to open those doors. For over 30 years, Weil has been a leader in investing in formal initiatives to cultivate an inclusive culture where all feel comfortable and encouraged to excel.

We believe the results of our inclusion efforts tell a remarkable story. Today, 16 Firm leaders are LGBT+, people of color, or women serving as heads of practice groups, Firmwide committee chairs, or Management Committee members. The General Counsel and three Management Committee members (19 percent) are women. Three of the Firm’s practice group leaders and two office heads are attorneys of color.

Weil has consistently been at the forefront of law firm diversity training programs for over two decades, and regularly introduces new programs and initiatives to further bolster our efforts in this area. For example, in 2011, Weil implemented an annual 2-hour diversity education requirement for all US attorneys and staff. Each year, a new program is developed and customized specifically for Weil to provide concrete skills for achieving inclusion. Program topics have included unconscious bias, mentoring and delivering feedback across difference, working with difference generations, religious diversity, and managing cross-cultural relationships. In 2015, Weil launched an innovative new initiative called Upstander@Weil to inspire all attorneys and staff to stand up for inclusion in the workplace, community and at home. This campaign expands the powerful “ally” concept within the LGBT+ community to a broader spectrum of groups, including people of color, women, veterans, etc.

For more information on Diversity & Inclusion at Weil, click here.

Q&A with Diversity Leadership

Business Finance & Restructuring Partner Jacqueline Marcus discusses her role as Diversity Committee Co-Chair, TOWER Co-Chair, and one of the Firm’s first flex-time partners.

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Jacqueline Marcus
Diversity Committee Co-Chair
and TOWER Co-Chair

Q: How did you get involved in Diversity and Inclusion efforts at Weil?

I’ve been involved with the Firm’s Diversity Committee for more than 20 years. I first started as the counsel representative when now –retired partner Andrea Bernstein was heading up the Committee. Andrea was a true pioneer in this area so I’ve had some big shoes to fill. I took over from Andrea as Chair in 2015. As of this year, Chris Garcia became Co-Chair of the committee. With respect to gender diversity, I became Co-Chair of TOWER, the Taskforce of Women’s Engagement and Retention, in 2014. I currently co-lead this effort with Britta Grauke in Frankfurt and Paul Genender in Dallas.

Q: Tell me about the Committees and what your roles entail.

The Diversity Committee consists of partners, counsel and senior staff in Weil’s offices around the world, and we work closely with our very talented Global Diversity team, led by Weil’s Global Diversity & Social Responsibility Director Meredith Moore. Because we currently have TOWER dedicated to gender diversity, the Diversity Committee is focused on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, veterans, disability, and other forms of diversity. It’s really a collaborative effort to leverage off of everyone’s ideas. In each of these committees, we are focused on recruitment, retention, development, and advancement. We discuss metrics, feedback from recent programs and initiatives, and ideas for new efforts. In addition, I often work with other groups like Business Development and Legal Recruiting, for example, because issues of Diversity and Inclusion are relevant and important in every area of our Firm. I try to go to recruiting events as often as I can to show support and importance for diversity to new recruits. I also try to attend a number of affinity group meetings and events so that I can learn, first hand, what is important and impactful for our diverse associates.

Q: Do you receive feedback on programs and initiatives from lawyers and staff who aren’t involved specifically with the Diversity Committee?

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Yes, we’re always looking for feedback. While we love the positive feedback, negative feedback can be helpful too. It’s wonderful that Weil has been doing diversity programming and events for so long. There is a risk, however, that people can get “diversity fatigue,” so it’s a challenge to keep things interesting and current. Many of the programs we embark on are based on or inspired by feedback. Our Upstander initiative, for example, was developed in part because we heard from many of our people that they wanted to do more for inclusion but didn’t know how. Mentoring circles developed because of feedback from female associates that some wanted more access to female partners, some to male partners, and others to female senior associates. The program incorporated elements of all three (one female and one male partner and 5-6 female associates across levels). As time went on, some female associates wanted male associates to participate, so now more than half of the circles include equal numbers of men and women.

Q: What’s an example of a recent program or initiative that you feel was particularly successful?

As a result of recent and ongoing events, we as a Firm wanted to be more forthright about addressing racial issues, so we devoted our 2017 annual diversity training to “Talking Boldly About Race: Being an Upstander in a Time of Cultural Unrest.” Because the sessions were so interactive, there were differences in the subjects that were raised and the individual experiences that were shared. We followed up with a session open to all where the facilitator, Verna Myers, shared her insights from the 30 sessions we held at the Firm. A lot of people attended and participated in discussing what they had learned during the diversity training and in the months since. This is also a great example of our efforts to keep our ideas for programming fresh and to maintain the momentum over time. Diversity also isn’t just about race, ethnicity or gender, but it’s also ways of thinking about things – perspectives and perceptions, so our 2017 diversity month theme was “Diversity of Thought.” I think we can sometimes forget that not everyone has the same opinions as we do or thinks the same way that we do.

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Q: Why do you think diversity and inclusion are so important at Weil?

It truly is ingrained in firm culture – the Firm was founded by three gentlemen who couldn’t find work because of their religion, so I think it’s particularly incumbent upon us to “pay it forward.” It may not be the case these days that people can’t find work because they are Jewish, but whatever the defining characteristic may be, I feel that it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that those kinds of barriers to advancement don’t exist for other people now or in the future. And the Firm and its clients reap the benefit of our diversity efforts – research reflects diverse work groups produce better work product.

Q: How important do you think diversity is to clients?

Law firms have been completing diversity surveys for years, and I think sometimes in the past, clients’ inquiries regarding the diversity of their law firms was simply about “checking a box.” What’s changed in the past several years is that companies are actually withholding work if your survey results aren’t adequate. The other thing that’s changed is that clients and potential clients are not only asking for diversity statistics firmwide, but what they really want is diverse teams working on their matters. We believe that diverse teams bring a greater array of skillsets, experiences, and creativity, and allow more voices to be heard in terms of approach, which ultimately generates a better work product. In addition, many of our clients are international and global, so it’s important to have teams that can be sensitive to issues all over the world.

Q: In addition to being involved in Weil’s Diversity efforts, you were also one of the Firm’s first flex-time partners. Can you explain what the flex-time program is?

You could say that career path diversity is another way we strive to be inclusive at the Firm. Weil created the role of “Flex-Time Partner” in 2007, which is available for both women and men who have made a long-term career choice to work on a flexible schedule. I was among the first in that class, which also happens to be the first time that women comprised more than one-half of the new partner class at the Firm. Now I’m currently one of four Flex-Time Partners at the Firm. Additionally, the firm has a long-standing Flex-Time Program for associates to adopt a reduced work schedule while continuing their commitment to practicing law.

Q: Why did you choose to work as a Flextime partner and how has it worked out for you?

What prompted me to be flex-time was my personal upbringing. I was brought up in a Sephardic Jewish family with strong pride in the traditions of our culture. It was highly unusual for a woman to get an education or have a job. While my parents were very supportive an encouraging, at the same time, these cultural traditions were ingrained in me. When I had my first child, I didn’t feel comfortable working full time, so that’s when I started flex-time. I was an associate at that time and after several years I did become counsel and eventually partner. I’m eternally grateful to the firm for making that flex-time option available for me. What’s interesting and different these days is there’s much more focus on work life balance, and much more effort by the firms to make working easier for men and women with families. Maybe this will mean that less people will opt for the flex-time arrangement, and instead utilize these other programs and be able to juggle the demands of work and family better more easily.

Q: What’s next for Diversity & Inclusion at Weil?

From a diversity and gender point of view, I think we’re generally doing a pretty good job of bringing people into the firm, although we need to maintain a focus on this area. Where we are redoubling our efforts is making sure that everyone has the tools and the opportunities to thrive at the firm, so that you’ll see the percentages of female, people of color, and LGBT+ partners accelerate over time. Our work is far from over, but we’re up for the challenge!

Awards and Accolades

Below are a few of the awards Weil has received honoring our commitment to diversity and inclusion:

  • 'Best International Firm for Diversity' - Euromoney Legal Media Group’s Americas Women in Business Law Awards 2017
  • 'Top 10 for Diversity' - Chambers Associate 2017
  • 'Top Law Firm for Equality: 100% Rating in the Corporate Equality Index' - Human Rights Campaign Foundation 2018
  • 'Leadership and Excellence in Inclusion and Diversity Award' - Morgan Stanley Legal Compliance and Division 2016

Diversity Stats

Firm has a written diversity strategy that has been communicated to all Firm attorneys. Firm gives billable credit for work that is directly related to diversity efforts (but is not pro bono work). Firm ties a component of partner compensation to diversity efforts. Firm has a diversity committee that includes senior partners and that reports to the Firm’s highest governing body. Firm has a full or part-time diversity professional who performs diversity-related tasks. Firm has affinity or employee resource groups for its women and diverse attorneys, which meet at least quarterly. Firm has a succession plan that specifically emphasizes greater inclusion of women and diverse lawyers. Firm mandates and monitors that minority and women attorneys have equal access to clients, quality work assignments, committee appointments, marketing efforts and Firm events. Firm requires inclusion of at least one diverse candidate in all hiring decisions. Firm policy specifically prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Firm provides opportunity for attorneys to voluntarily disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression through Firm data collection procedures. Firm policy specifically provides for paid maternity leave.  Firm policy specifically provides for paid paternity leave.  Firm has a formal, written part-time policy that permits partners to be part-time.  Firm has a flex-time policy. Firm provides for or mandates diversity training for all lawyers and staff. Firm has a supplier diversity program.
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