Company: Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP
Diversity Team Name: Kasowitz Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Women’s Initiatives Committee
Diversity Team Leader(s): Cochairs Hector Torres & Cindy Caranella Kelly (Kasowitz Diversity & Inclusion Committee)
What Makes this Diversity Team Stand Out
Kasowitz has long been a leader in promoting diverse attorneys to partnership and leadership positions. From 2020 to 2021, 44.4 percent of partner promotions were minorities and 33.3 percent were women.
Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee Co-chaired by cofounding partner Hector Torres and partner Cindy Caranella Kelly, our Diversity & Inclusion Committee has been instrumental in cultivating an environment in which diverse attorneys are supported in their pursuit of their professional goals; in establishing mentorship and pipeline programs; and in increasing the recruitment of diverse attorneys.
- Professional Development Our D&I Committee hosts a Diversity Speaker Series that brings distinguished speakers to provide guidance to our diverse attorneys. The Committee hosted Jean Lee, CEO of MCCA, to discuss diversity in the law and initiatives to create an inclusive environment. The Committee also hosted an powerful discussion on Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, engaging all firm employees in meaningful discussions about race and allyship.
- Mentorship/Pipeline Initiatives One of our most impactful pipeline initiatives is participating in the LCLD 1L Scholars Program, which strengthens the legal pipeline by expanding the opportunities for diverse first-year law students. Kasowitz hired a diverse 1L as a summer associate for 2020-2021. Through our pro bono work, partnering with the Justice Resource Center’s MENTOR program, we work with and coach students from John Dewey High School (one of the 100 most diverse schools in NYS) in moot court and mock trial competitions, and expose them to legal careers. We accompany students on court visits and bring them to the firm to hear from our founding partner, Hector Torres, about how he excelled and became one of the country’s top Hispanic litigators. We also partnered with La Unidad Latina Foundation and its “Y Tu También” College Readiness program, and held a college application workshop to prepare minority high school students for college.
- Recruiting Led by the D&I Committee, Kasowitz has significantly increased its financial commitment to and attendance at law school events hosted by the Black Law Students Association. The firm has also been expanding its relationship with Howard University School of Law and hired a Howard law student as a 2019 summer associate.
- Women’s Initiatives Committee Kasowitz’s Women’s Initiatives Committee focuses on efforts to assist the firm’s women lawyers with career building, business development, and mentoring. The committee hosts roundtables for women attorneys to provide insight on how women attorneys can achieve success. Recent roundtables discussed legal careers beyond law firms, excelling in leadership roles, and business development during the pandemic. The committee also hosted an inspiring discussion on Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers: Lives in the Law by Jill Norgren.
- Ranked by The American Lawyer as a top 20 diverse law firm in the U.S.
- Ranked fifth place on The American Lawyer’s list of firms with highest percentage of African-American lawyers
- Shortlisted for Chambers USA Diversity and Inclusion Award: Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year
- California Minority Counsel Program’s Drucilla Stender Ramey Majority-Owned Law Firm Award
- Ranked 11th in Law360’s Best Law Firms for Minority Attorneys at midsized firms