By William J. Snipes, Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
THE COMMITMENT OF our clients to principles of diversity and inclusion has been instrumental in helping to change the status quo. For more than a decade, there has been a growing trend in the number of clients proactively seeking to ensure that a diverse mix of lawyers are assigned to their matters, including, for example, requiring law firms to periodically report detailed information about their efforts to recruit, retain, and advance women and diverse lawyers.
In more recent years, our clients have started rewarding external lawyers for achieving diversity milestones by instituting varying levels of “preferred provider” status and publicly honoring law firms at annual diversity events. We have also been a leader in collaborating with clients on diversity initiatives, including programming, panel discussions, and networking and awareness receptions.
We have been proactive in demonstrating our commitment to diversity and providing opportunities for our lawyers and clients to participate in advancing our diversity objectives. In the past year, our Diversity Committee has hosted and cohosted numerous diversity events with clients. For example, we hosted a screening of Trevor, a seventeen-minute, Academy Award-winning short film that inspired its creators to establish The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, which many of our largest clients attended. We also hosted a presentation created by a client called The Good Black, which was attended by members of our Network of Black & Latino Lawyers. The firm’s Women’s Initiative Committee annually cohosts with a client a reception launching a week-long clothing drive to benefit Dress for Success. This collaboration is key to making real progress on having a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.