By Andrea Greene and Laura Evans
Irell & Manella LLP

In times of economic distress it is essential for law firms to give attorneys with diverse backgrounds opportunities to thrive. Diversity allows us to be representative of our clients and community, which is essential for many clients. Diversity also brings a variety of perspectives to the workplace and promotes the creativity and exceptional problem solving for which our firm is known. Rather than view diversity as a luxury, we’ve chosen to view it as a core tenet in our firm’s business strategy. Despite the economic downturn, our firm is still competing for the best and brightest attorneys; our focus on diversity helps us to recruit and retain talented attorneys.

While many firms have cut diversity programs recently, we have strengthened our commitment to diversity. Take, for example, gender diversity. Here, our efforts have included joining Catalyst, a leading nonprofit working globally with businesses to build inclusive workplaces. Irell has also joined a Los Angeles coalition collaborating to advance and retain women lawyers.

Internally, our Women’s and Hiring Committees are leading focused efforts to recruit and advance women attorneys at Irell. This past year, these committees collaborated to recruit an increased number of women, with great success. The 2012 women summer associates class will be the largest Irell has ever had, with 18 women out of 34 summer associates. Because most of our permanent hiring results from these summer associates, coordinating recruiting efforts are an essential first step. Ultimately, we maintain our firm’s commitment to diversity through the dedication of individual attorneys who care about the success of the firm.

Irell & Manella LLP is a premiere AM LAW 200 firm. Andra Greene is the managing partner of Irell’s Newport Beach, California office and a member of the firm’s executive committee. Laura Evans chairs Irell’s Associate Committee and is an active member of its Women’s Committee.