Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto
Recipient of MCCA's
Thomas L. Sager Award
for Commitment to Diversity
Diversity in our workplace has long been important to us at Fitzpatrick and is a particular focus of our firm. We believe that a diverse workplace enhances the quality of the legal services that we provide. At its core, a law firm is composed of its people. We have found that when those people are of diverse backgrounds, different perspectives and experiences are brought together, with the resultant synergy stimulating creativity and innovation. A diverse pool of attorneys also provides us with a platform from which we can continue to attract the best and brightest new candidates to our organization. And having a workplace that mirrors those of our clients allows us to more effectively partner with them. It all just makes good business sense.
First and foremost, our success in recruiting and retaining minority attorneys is an outgrowth of the energy and resources we devote to recruiting and retaining top quality legal talent. Simply put, we have found that if the tasks of legal recruiting and associate development are given the high level of importance that they deserve, then a substantial percentage of minority and women attorneys is a natural result. By focusing foremost on identifying and attracting the best legal talent available, our process involves a highly-qualitative approach to candidate evaluation, and looks well beyond the traditional factors of law school name and class rank. Our ultimate question in deciding on a candidate is whether we think that candidate can succeed, and in answering that question, we believe it is critical to look at traits such as prior personal accomplishments, obstacles overcome, motivation and ability to function as part of a team. This approach results naturally in a diverse class every year.
The success of minority and women attorneys already within our organization is also an important factor in the equation, and gives us an advantage in attracting new minority talent. We are delighted that our minority and women partners, as well as the increasing number of more senior minority and women associates at the firm, have served as role models for their more junior counterparts and aid in their professional growth.
Our Diversity Committee continues to make improvements to achieve an inclusive workplace where each attorney feels that his or her fullest potential can be reached. The committee is made up of associates and partners, including one partner who is also a member of the firm's Management Committee. On an ongoing basis, the Committee assesses the needs and interests of Fitzpatrick's women and minorities and works to address those needs.
As part of our on-going commitment to diversity, we continually seek new mechanisms to expand diversity awareness among our people. This year, for example, we commissioned Stephen Young of the highly-regarded consulting firm Insight Education Systems, to give us in-house seminars on the power and impact of what he calls "Microinequities" in a business organization. These seminars, which our Diversity Committee made mandatory for all attorneys and department heads, discussed common behaviors that have the effect of devaluing, discouraging and impairing performance, and gave guidelines for creating an environment which sparks creativity, leadership and exceptional performance. Mr. Young's seminars were extremely well-received, and have proven a great asset in our continuing efforts to build and sustain a productive, diverse and inclusive workplace.
Historically, our firm has enjoyed a very high retention rate, not only with respect to our minority and women associates, but with our associate corp in general. We credit this success largely to the high emphasis we put on mentoring and professional development. Each associate chooses a partner mentor, who becomes responsible for keeping track of the progress and needs of the mentee's career at the firm. By allowing the associate to select his or her mentor, we strive to ensure that the match will be a successful one, and we optimize the quality of the mentoring that the associate receives.
At a broader level, all partners and senior associates at the firm are encouraged to act as informal mentors to the junior lawyers with whom they work, teaching as they go, and making sure that each young lawyer's experience on a project is a developmental one.
Other aspects of our firm's culture make Fitzpatrick an extremely comfortable place for minorities and women to begin and continue their careers.
- The firm has made donations to the Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Intellectual Property Law School Scholarship, to be awarded to minority students developing a career in intellectual property law.
- We were one of the initial signatories to the "Statement of Goals of New York Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments For Increasing Minority Representation and Retention" sponsored by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
- In 2003, we became involved with the New York County Lawyers' Association's Task Force to Increase Diversity in the Legal Profession, and became a signatory to its Diversity Statement.