Teresa Lavoie, PhD
Principal and EMPOWER Chair
Fish & Richardson
Business: Legal Services
Fish & Richardson recognizes that people are one of the firm’s most valuable assets. Diverse backgrounds provide unique perspectives that result in new and better solutions, and having a diverse team that reflects the diversity of the public arena enhances the quality of legal services the firm can provide to clients and sustains its standing as a premier intellectual property law firm. Fish also recognizes the importance of fostering a work environment that values the diversity of experiences, perspectives, capabilities, and talents of each member of the firm, and contributes to a firm fabric and culture of intentional inclusion.
Fish has made a long-term commitment to building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. The firm has had a formal diversity initiative in place for more than 10 years. The initiative links together a variety of programs that support recruitment, retention, professional development, and outreach, and is designed to help the firm attract, retain, and advance a diverse legal staff.
In 2017, Fish became one of the first 30 U.S. law firms to adopt the Mansfield Rule, which requires that 30 percent of candidates for any leadership role must be women and attorneys of color. This practice not only builds a leadership pipeline, it is good for diversity and helpful for succession planning.
“From the beginning of my career, I was determined not to build my practice by ‘pulling the ladder up behind me,’” says Teresa Lavoie, a partner who advocates for women and diverse attorneys as a member of Fish’s Compensation Committee and chair of the firm’s EMPOWER initiative. EMPOWER addresses issues unique to women in the legal profession, increases networking and mentoring opportunities, and provides tools and resources that position women for success.
As a key driver of Fish’s work to reduce bias in the promotion process, Lavoie works closely with the firm’s diversity chair to participate in the promotion committee process, reviewing materials and participating in committee discussions to ensure candidates are considered on the merits. In 2018, women represented 50 percent of the attorneys promoted to equity principal and 45 percent of the attorneys promoted to non-equity principal.
Lavoie also helped to spearhead changes to Fish’s parental leave policy. The firm added many improvements, including extending paid leave time and adding a phased hours program that gives employees who are primary caregivers significantly more flexibility before and after their parental leave.