Company: Stoel Rives LLP
Innovation Title: Move the Needle Fund
Company Website: www.stoel.com
Year Introduced: 2020
What Makes this Initiative Unique
Stoel Rives is a founding firm of Move The Needle Fund, the first collaborative effort designed to test innovative initiatives—or, “bias interrupters”—that result in a more diverse and inclusive legal profession. Working in partnership with Diversity Lab, other MTN Fund founding firms, and more than 25 founding General Counsel members, Stoel Rives is implementing trailblazing bias interrupters over the course of five years.
Purpose and Goal
Working to address racism and institutional bias in the legal system and across the country, as well as increase diversity, equity, and inclusion at our firm and in our industry, Stoel Rives has set ambitious, measurable, and public goals relating to the firm’s retention of historically underrepresented lawyers. Specifically, the firm will improve the retention rate of its diverse attorneys to be at least equal to the retention rate of its non-diverse attorneys by 2025, with the ultimate goal of increasing diversity among the firm’s partnership.
Benefits and Positive Changes
The firm is implementing research-based bias interrupters to create a more inclusive work culture, including Engagement Interviews to boost retention and work satisfaction, Inclusive Job Postings to draw more diverse candidates to open roles, OnTrack Sponsorships to support advancement of historically underrepresented lawyers, “Focused Five” business development opportunities for diverse partners to foster connections with in-house counsel, and a DEI “AV Club” to encourage communication and knowledge sharing around DEI topics. Stoel Rives will share outcomes of bias interrupters tested to accelerate adoption of successful DEI initiatives within the larger legal community.
The firm has conducted baseline personnel data (quantitative) analyses, based on current data and historical trends, as well as firmwide Belonging & Inclusion Assessments (qualitative), to establish starting points against which the effectiveness of the bias interrupters is measured. These analyses will be conducted periodically over the MTN Fund’s five years to assess the impact of the initiatives. On an ongoing basis, the firm is gathering contemporary feedback on the bias interrupters to iterate the initiatives for optimal effectiveness.
How this Initiative Is Driving Growth
Stoel Rives is testing bold new approaches in DEI programs and practices to model transformative growth and cultural change in the legal profession and beyond. As a MTN founding firm, Stoel Rives is developing best practices for other firms to emulate and adopt to make the legal profession more inclusive overall.
The bias interrupters Stoel Rives is piloting are designed to boost recruitment, retention, development, and advancement of women lawyers, lawyers from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic populations, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities. The firm is also focused on boosting and retaining diverse talent in its leadership pipelines, such as lawyers approaching, or at, the partnership level. The DEI initiatives Stoel is testing through MTN will ultimately have a broad and significant impact on the legal industry, increasing diverse representation and systematically dismantling historical biases that have been obstacles to inclusion within the profession.