Hugh Verrier

Hugh Verrier
Chairman, White & Case LLP

Headquarters: New York City
Primary Business: Law
Revenues: $1.3 billion
Employees: 4,800

Awareness of Diversity and Our Need for It

Diversity has a special meaning in a global law firm.

Our people come from all over the globe, and our strength depends on our ability to draw on their varied experiences and perspectives to serve our clients.

That’s what our clients expect, and that’s why they come to us. They come from all over the world too.

A global law firm like ours, residing as it does at the intersection of our people and clients, reflects many more facets of diversity, including nationality, language and culture. Our notion of diversity, therefore, is complex, and it also changes with the environment—where, for example, a minority in one country may be a majority in another. All this deepens our awareness of diversity and our need for it. Naturally, diversity is one of our core values.

But awareness and need do not alone give us the ability to draw on the diversity we have. That requires a commitment in every market to give everyone the opportunity to build a meaningful and rewarding career. We do this through a wide range of activities, including mentoring programs and affinity groups. By promoting diversity and inclusiveness in our offices around the world, we strengthen our “one-firm” culture.

In the United States, White & Case is now ranked as the second most diverse law firm on the American Lawyer’s 2011 Diversity Scorecard. In the United Kingdom, we are the ninth most diverse law firm according to the 2011 Diversity League Table.

But no national ranking can capture the breadth of global diversity. So our national progress must be supported by global commitments. This year, for example, we established our first global affinity group, for LGBT lawyers. Initiatives like these are driven by our global diversity committee composed of firm leaders representing all regions of the world.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen the power of diversity in action—from clerking for Canada’s first woman Supreme Court Justice, Bertha Wilson, to my experiences working as a lawyer in New York, Indonesia, Turkey and Russia, and in my role as Chairman of White & Case today.

As the chairman of a global law firm, my commitment to diversity is global too.

Education: BA, Université de Montréal, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier; LLM, Harvard Law School; LLB, University of Ottawa
First Job: Student law clerk at Ogilvy Renault in Montreal
What I’m Reading: The Legacy, by David Suzuki
My Philosophy: Give people the tools they need to succeed.
Family: Wife Celia and three children
Interests: Ocean swimming, chess, conservationist Grey Owl
Favorite Charity: Bhutan’s Kidu Foundation