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Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

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Shook, Hardy & Bacon Diversity Statement

Inclusion is not about asking people to fit in. It is about creating a space where everyone belongs.

Diversity and inclusion are essential components of Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s strategic plan. Shook recognizes that the varied perspectives and experiences found in a diverse and inclusive workplace create a broader, richer environment, and produce innovative solutions for our clients.

Diversity is an essential component of our vision statement, which provides, in part, that Shook, Hardy & Bacon is deeply passionate about sustaining "a diverse environment where everyone is respected, feels appreciated and experiences fulfillment and enjoyment through meaningful contributions." The firm's equal opportunity policy explicitly bars discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, and domestic partner benefits apply to same-sex relationships.

Shook works with clients to make significant progress in the recruitment and advancement of attorneys from diverse backgrounds. The firm is actively involved with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and is a supporter of “A Call to Action: Diversity in the Legal Profession." Shook is also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, national organizations dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion in the legal arena.

Among many other accolades, Shook has earned a 100-percent rating on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the past 10 years and the Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) for the seventh consecutive year. Vault has also consistently ranked Shook among the top 25 law firms across the nation for diversity and inclusion.

Law School Workshops

Shook partners with student organizations such as the National Black Law Students Association on programs that offer practical advice on improving resumes and interviewing skills.

Minority Job Fair Recruiting

Shook recruits at such events across the nation, including the Heartland Diversity Job Fair, DuPont Minority Job Fair, Lavender Law Job Fair, Cook County Minority Job Fair, and Southeastern Minority Job Fair.

Women's Management Council

This proactive group of Shook women partners serves as a catalyst for programs targeting the unique challenges facing women practitioners.

Educational Programming

Shook's Diversity and Inclusion Committee spearheads diversity-themed presentations throughout the year for attorneys and staff. Recent programs have included those focusing on increasing awareness of micro-inequities and luncheons featuring Shook alumnae in the judiciary, LGBT issues, Native American/Tribal law issues, and parenting diversity-sensitive children.

Shook Champions

Shook matches firm leaders and influencers with minority senior associates to promote the sharing of critical information about paths to success and remove the hidden barriers to achievement in the workplace.

SOUL Program

A reverse-mentoring program, “Strengthening Opportunities for Unity and Learning,” pairs senior firm leaders with minority attorneys to engage in discussion and experiences focused on racial and ethnic diversity.

Implicit Bias/Cultural Competency Training

As we assess how implicit bias and cultural competencies affect our client service, decision-making and professional advancement, we provide in-depth training to everyone in our firm. Training is followed with action items as well as individual and organizational strategies.

Q&A with Madeleine McDonough, Chair


Madeleine McDonough, Chair
Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

What is the ethos behind the firm’s approach to diversity?

Shook is committed to building an inclusive environment where all individuals are able to find success by being their authentic selves. Our clients and communities are themselves diverse; and as attorneys we are often asked to collaborate across borders and practices to solve complex problems. To connect the dots for our clients, Shook seeks to foster cultural competency, while interrupting both explicit and implicit bias in meaningful and measurable ways. The firm places a high value on transparency and flexibility, parental leave policies and culture, mentoring and sponsorship programs, courageous conversations, and diverse leadership.

What has a more diverse and inclusive workplace brought to your firm, and also to your clients?

Shook understands that a diverse workplace and inclusive leadership is a critical component of providing successful and fulfilling career paths for our employees. At the same time, we put ourselves in our clients’ shoes: Who will be the best fit for their immediate needs as well as their long-term business goals? What talents do we have to build the best team for the best results? As complex problems increasingly require collaboration across practices, borders and even other law firms — and as our client organizations become more inclusive and diverse — we are seeing that these experiences help build meaningful client relationships that thrive, not in spite of these challenges, but often because of them.

How do you encourage a more diverse and inclusive workplace?

Law firms sometimes struggle to reinvent their compensation, evaluation and development systems to interrupt implicit bias and create cultural competency in meaningful — and measurable — ways. Firms often rely on informal networks to keep business flowing across a chain of people with much in common, often to the detriment of women and minorities. At Shook, we have revamped our succession planning and compensation systems to try to resolve these inequities. We train our leaders and relationship partners not only to be cognizant of these blind spots within the organization and the legal profession, but to proactively address them by partnering with clients to get a 360-degree view of our own performance. We also use an open partner compensation system to ensure dialogue and transparency.

What are your policies for recruitment, and what are the major challenges?

Shook works to attract diverse candidates on multiple fronts. The firm posts job openings with various diversity organizations and bar associations; holds resume and interview workshops at law schools with diversity organizations; and solicits referrals from our own network of attorneys and alumni. All attorneys who interview potential candidates on Shook’s behalf are trained on what the firm does to support diversity and inclusion.

In an effort broaden our pool of diverse candidates beyond our local market, we are currently developing a new, practical skills program for diverse students from law schools across the country. Shook has also participated in the 1L LCLD Scholars Program since its inception in 2011. And for more than two decades, the firm been active with several minority and veteran legal career fairs, including the Cook County Minority Job Fair and Southeastern Minority Job Fair since 1998 and the Lavender Law Job Fair since 2003, among others. In recent years, we have expanded these efforts to other parts of the country through the Northwest Minority Job Fair and Southwest Region of the National Black Law Students Association Job Fairs.

Retention of diverse staff is a critical issue – what are the programmes your firm has in place that you feel will help retain your staff?

Shook’s diversity and inclusion initiatives extend well beyond the recruiting phase to focus, not just on their retention of diverse attorneys and staff, but their engagement, advancement and success. Among our many diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives, we offer a robust professional development program that tackles all aspects of the technical skills lawyers need to be successful—from brief writing workshops, basic and advanced trial practice, deposition skills, and more. Shook has also developed formal sponsorship programs at every career stage that are designed to help diverse attorneys break the cycle of being over-mentored and under-sponsored to become business developers and client relationship attorneys. As part of the firm’s courageous conversations initiative, the firm pairs minority attorneys and senior majority leaders and empowers them to have discussions and mentor one another.

In addition to the Women’s Management Council, which Shook’s women partners started more than a decade ago to support successive generations of women leaders at the firm, Shook holds leadership academies targeted at diverse groups such as women (through a partnership with the University of California, Hastings) and women of color (through the Leadership Institute of Women of Color Attorneys).

As a result of these long-standing efforts, Shook continues to attract and support top legal talent. In 2017, the firm for the 10th consecutive year earned a 100-percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and is one of only two firms to receive the WILEF Gold Standard for the last seven years by exceeding all criteria every year. Shook’s clients have also recognized the firm’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion. The Coca-Cola Company has awarded Shook the company’s “Living the Values Award” three times for demonstrating a commitment to diversity through innovative solutions that advance diversity in the legal profession, and, in 2017, Shook was named the first recipient of The Coca-Cola Company’s General Counsel Diversity Advancement Award.

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