Staying the Course: Nixon Peabody LLP is Building a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Workplace

Thanks to decades of work from grassroots advocacy groups and professional service allies - including Nixon Peabody - most of us now agree that building diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces is a corporate imperative, with substantial social and economic benefits.

Staying the Course: Nixon Peabody LLP is Building a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Workplace

Nixon Peabody LLP leaders discuss how they have gone beyond mission statements to become DEI action-oriented.

Many of us agree that creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces is a corporate imperative. This is due to decades of advocacy work by grassroots groups and professional service partners - Nixon Peabody included.

Although we should not take this new consensus as a given, it is something that many businesses, customers, and employees can feel confident about. We now have a common goal, but we need to examine our current practices and ask the crucial question: Does our actual-world action reflect our DEI principles? What strategies and tactics are really moving the needle? How can we communicate with Big Law and other skeptics who see tension between the dual goals of representation, and results?

Nixon Peabody's Los Angeles branch, which is home to 114 professionals that reflect Southern California's vibrant cultural diversity, provides clear answers to all these questions. Our L.A. office opened in 2005, a significant West Coast expansion for a firm founded in Rochester, New York, more than 100 years before. We have focused our efforts to attract, develop and retain top talent with a special focus on attorneys from underrepresented backgrounds in our industry.

More than 80% of Nixon Peabody L.A. employees identify as people of color, women, LGBTQ+, or members of an underrepresented group. Over 75% of all NP L.A. lawyers, including 60% of the partners, are members of underrepresented communities. Our long-standing commitment to diversifying the firm and L.A. continues to pay off in today's highly competitive employment market. In 2022, seven partners and nine associates were added to the L.A. team. This brings us to 63% of our diverse workforce. It is hard to find a better example of how Nixon Peabody's diversity commitments are received by talented lawyers and the entire industry. We have ambitious goals for diversifying our equity partnership, the ranks of attorneys who are part of our business, by 2025.

Nixon Peabody L.A. is proud to be one of the largest and most inclusive Big Law Offices in the country. Because we understand that even the best intentions can be shattered if they are not accompanied by concrete actions and validated with rigorous, quantifiable standards, we have invested the time, attention, and resources to make it happen.

How did we do it? It takes thoughtful strategies to recruit and hire the right people to build a company that is representative of our clients, colleagues, and community.

The Mansfield Rule requirements, which requires that 30% of candidates for leadership positions in significant organizations must be women, LGBTQ+, or attorneys of color, are followed by our firm. Our commitment to representation extends to all levels of staffing, from the C-suite to summer associates. A minimum of half of second- and third year law students who are interviewed for coveted internships and 20% for open lateral associate positions must be from underrepresented backgrounds. We are able to consider a wide range of candidates that reflect the diversity of our clients and communities. We incorporate our DEI goals into every stage of the talent development and hiring process. This ensures that we build a firm that mirrors the communities we serve.

We understand that diversity is just one step in an ongoing, thoughtful effort to build an inclusive and equitable organization. Our team is built through new hires as well as extensive support for those already in place. We ensure that all team members have the opportunity to voice their opinions on issues that affect their performance, career advancement, and citizenship.

Since long before the formation of the current consensus, Nixon Peabody was a strong advocate of DEI principles in Big Law. We have been criticized by those who claim that DEI is just an exercise in optics, as we are all organizations with a long-standing commitment to this work.

It is impossible to be more wrong. Research shows that diverse teams can come up with better solutions for clients. The end result will be more creative, innovative, and effective when a team draws from the diverse experiences and knowledge of all members. We have known for a long time that diversity is a good thing. However, we also know that it is smart. Our firm has proven that representation and results do not have to be in conflict.

Our clients also prioritize their DEI principles, and are taking steps to live their values. We are proud to be a part of these efforts. We introduced our industry-leading DEI Strategic Services group this year. This team is designed to help clients position themselves for long-term success. It helps them create inclusive cultures that foster business success, raise their brands, and respond to their people.

It is obvious that companies who focus on DEI are more successful. Organizational success cannot be measured by making promises, but rather by implementing disciplined practices that make an impact. Nixon Peabody is proud of leading the way in a more inclusive profession. We are excited to work with our clients, our employees, and our communities to make lasting changes.