Seattle – Recognizing diversity and inclusion as both critically important core values and a strategic priority for the firm as well as vital areas to clients and the firm’s larger communities, K&L Gates LLP has adopted a policy that allows lawyers across its global platform to count up to 50 hours dedicated to qualifying internal and external diversity and inclusion activities towards the lawyer’s annual threshold for participation in the annual bonus program.
“As a global law firm, K&L Gates believes that having a diverse and inclusive organization is a critical component to the success of our firm as well as our lawyers,” stated K&L Gates Global Managing Partner Jim Segerdahl. “Investing time in activities that further promote diversity and inclusion at our firm and within its surrounding communities is an integral part of sustaining these important core values of the firm and helping to make us a stronger organization. So it only makes sense that we allow lawyers engaging in these activities across the globe to be credited for some of their hours in this arena, recognizing their efforts and importance of this work.”
The policy on the recognition of diversity hours was drafted by and through close collaboration between members of K&L Gates’ firmwide Diversity, Women in Profession (WIP), and Management committees, along with many partners, associates, and allied professionals devoted to the promotion of diversity and inclusion worldwide. Any lawyer, regardless of their background, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation, in any of the firm’s offices can earn diversity hours under the new policy.
Lawyers can receive credit for their participation in a broad range of diversity and inclusion activities, including, among others, assistance with recruiting diverse or women candidates; involvement in mentoring/pipeline activities for diverse or women law students; engagement in external programs specifically aimed at the mentoring, training, or recruitment of diverse or women law students; presenting at internal diversity and inclusion professional development activities; participating on firm diversity or WIP committees; presenting or participating in external diversity or WIP-focused seminars, conferences, or publications; leadership or other substantive work in diversity or WIP programs; and involvement in activities aimed at connecting with diverse client contacts.
Pallavi Mehta Wahi, K&L Gates’ co-managing partner, United States, and chair of the firm’s global Diversity Committee, said: “Many K&L Gates lawyers already devote considerable time, effort, and energy to promoting diversity and inclusion within our firm and communities, and we are greatly appreciative of the work our lawyers undertake to further these important values. Through our new global diversity hours policy, the firm hopes to further encourage and incentivize such contributions and continue to broaden the scope of participation in these vital endeavors.”
The recognition of diversity hours for lawyers is the latest in a series of initiatives K&L Gates has introduced during the past year as part of its long-standing and increasing commitment to diversity and inclusion, including in such areas as education and discussion, pro bono assistance, recruitment, and training, among others. A few examples include:
- the launch of a Conversation About Race speaker series focusing on the effects of systemic racism in our society and featuring such guests as civil rights pioneer and recent NAACP Chairman’s Award recipient Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr.; NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Derrick Johnson; Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi; Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Harry Williams, and North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, among others;
- the establishment of an equal justice pro bono effort to provide pro bono assistance in areas of particular need, such as voting rights, criminal justice reform, and the rights of indigenous peoples, and in which hundreds of firm lawyers have participated;
- the launch of the K&L Gates Pathway to Success business training program with Ms. JD to aid the firm’s women associates in building their careers; and
- the expansion of the K&L Gates: The Power of Partnership program with clients, offering first-year law school students the unique opportunity to experience legal work in both firm and in-house client settings.
K&L Gates also continues to serve as a sponsor or participant in numerous diversity-related programs, including Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), Diversity Council Australia, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), the National Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar Association, among others.