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Diversity: Foley & Lardner LLP


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Diversity at Foley & Lardner LLP

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Diversity At Our Core

At Foley & Lardner LLP, we believe the diversity of our people – whose experiences and perspectives are many and varied – is the foundation of who we are as an organization. We have worked extremely hard over the years in order to create and sustain an environment for our attorneys and employees that embraces and promotes inclusiveness and mutual respect, and we continue to improve and expand our diversity initiatives.

Solid Infrastructure

Recognizing that successful diversity efforts must have visible champions and leadership support at the highest levels, our CEO has mandated that diversity be included as a critical strategic objective of the firm. To spearhead this effort our Chief Diversity Partner, Maureen McGinnity, spends an average of 1400 hours per year as the principal driver of this program. She also chairs the firm’s Diversity Committee – a committee comprised of individuals who represent a cross-section of offices and practices and includes a diverse group of partners, associates, and professional staff. This committee meets regularly and assists with the development and strategic direction of our diversity initiatives.

The firm’s unique Diversity Business Department – headed by the Director of Diversity – has a dedicated and professional staff, a sizeable budget, and the resources necessary to implement our diversity initiatives. The department’s responsibilities include counseling diverse attorneys on business planning and career development, cultivating relationships and strategic alliances with diverse organizations, providing avenues for speaking and writing opportunities to showcase the talents of our diverse attorneys, as well as developing and maintaining communication vehicles.

Foley supports seven dedicated and active affinity groups for our women, African-American, Asian-Pacific American, Hispanic, openly gay and lesbian attorneys, attorneys who work a flexible schedule, as well as a pilot group in San Francisco for working parents. These groups offer an open forum for idea exchange and a platform for peer support, and members are increasingly utilizing these networks to advance their own professional and personal growth. These groups are also vital in fostering informal mentoring relationships, encouraging participation in recruiting activities, and identifying and coordinating business development opportunities.


Our recruiting philosophy reflects the firm’s strong commitment to diversity. We consciously reach out to diverse law student associations at schools across the country to ultimately identify candidates and build a pipeline of diverse law school recruits – while also raising awareness about our firm and providing a vehicle to cultivate personal relationships with the students. Our National Recruiting Committee is enriched through the inclusion of women and ethnically diverse attorneys, and diverse attorneys throughout all of our offices are actively involved in on-campus and office interviews.

We have also accelerated the growth in the overall diversity of our firm through strategic diverse lateral hiring. In the past year, the firm appointed a National Lateral Hiring Partner and National Lateral Hiring Manager to centralize and manage the process of identifying and recruiting non-partner lateral candidates, including proactive and aggressive recruitment of diverse attorneys. By creating professional positions to focus on this objective, we have built better relationships with diverse headhunting agencies, refined our job fair activities, and refocused our internal referral programs.

We are also committed to diversifying the legal profession as a whole. Concerned that too many ethnically diverse law students were opting out of large firm environments, we created our Minority Scholarship Program in 1998, believed to be the first of its kind. Through this program, we award $5,000 scholarships to ethnically diverse students at a number of law schools across the country. To date, we have awarded nearly $400,000 in scholarships. We are also proud to underwrite the Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Intellectual Property Law Scholarships, created to increase the diversity of intellectual property law practitioners.


Creating an environment where all of our attorneys receive the support they need to thrive and succeed professionally and personally is paramount to our overall success. As a firm, we encourage career development opportunities for all of our attorneys and have well-established mentoring and professional development programs. Affinity group members play an active role in mentoring and providing career development coaching to our diverse attorneys, and reach out to the firm’s diverse associates/summer associates to facilitate their transition to the firm. These groups also play a valuable role in connecting our diverse attorneys across the country, providing informal mentoring relationships and opportunities to work collectively projects, as well as reaching out to the firm’s new diverse associates/summer associates to facilitate their transition to the firm.

We also recognize the need to accommodate our talent by providing progressive, family-friendly policies. Our Flexible Schedule policy makes part-time and other alternative work schedule arrangements readily available to attorneys for the purpose of meeting their needs for child or elder care. Flex schedule attorneys remain eligible for partnership, and a number of flex schedule attorneys have been promoted to partner. We also offer paid parental leave to both men and women (including for adoption), as well as emergency child and elder care services.


We continually encourage a healthy mix of ideas and perspectives by ensuring that diverse attorneys are included at all levels of management. For example:

  • Two women partners, including an African American woman, serve on the Management Committee, the most powerful and influential committee within the firm
  • One of our four department chairs is an African American woman
  • Five of our offices are managed by women, one of whom is a lesbian and one of whom is African American
  • Over 30% of our practice groups and industry teams are chaired by ethnically diverse, women, and gay and lesbian attorneys
  • Over 30% of our firm committee members are diverse
  • In the past several years, we doubled the percentage of women attorneys responsible for managing relationships with the firm’s top clients, and tripled the percentage of ethnically diverse relationship partners

External Diversity Efforts

Foley is also fully committed to sponsoring and supporting national and local legal organizations that promote diversity within the legal profession. Our attorneys participate in, and the firm financially supports, diverse legal organizations such as the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), the California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP), the National Bar Association (NBA), the National Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

Other non-legal community organizations with which we are involved include – but are not limited to – Women President’s Organization (WPO), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Boardroom Bound®, Human Rights Campaign, Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and it’s Make Mine a $Million Program, and Springboard Enterprise.

We have developed a unique initiative designed to support women-owned businesses while at the same time fostering professional development opportunities for our women attorneys. One of our strategic alliances formed is with the ATHENAPowerLink mentoring program, which offers women business owners access to a panel of advisors/mentors. As a founding sponsor of this program, Foley provides financial support, has a number of attorneys participating as advisors/mentors to women business owners, and was instrumental in launching the program in Chicago, Orlando, Jacksonville and Detroit – and is a founding sponsor for the San Francisco program to be launched in 2007.

Foley recently partnered with Springboard Enterprise to launch a Web Conference series entitled “Legal:GPS – Growth and Protection Strategies to Help Navigate Your Business Success.” This series was designed specifically for women business-owners to provide them with guidance when growing a business and features case studies from actual women business owners and is supplemented by insightful commentary and feedback from Foley women attorneys who specialize in those specific areas. Our first program on “CEO Employment Contracts: What to Know and What to Avoid” occurred on May 3, 2007 and was very well received by the attendees.

In conjunction with Springboard Enterprise, Foley has also created a Women’s Business Owners’ Resource Center Web site at www.womenlegalresource.com. This site provides key information and resources to women business-owners on various legal topics which are helpful when starting and growing a business. Such topics include Private Equity & Venture Capital, Distribution & Franchise, Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment, and more.

Recognition Garnered

We continue to take concrete actions to increase diversity within the firm, as well as in our profession and communities – and we continue to make positive strides and view each accomplishment as one of many steps forward to achieving a more diverse and enriching legal environment. Foley’s dedication to increasing diversity has garnered recent prestigious awards and recognitions:

  • Awarded the California Minority Counsel Program’s (CMCP) 2006 Drucilla Stender Ramey Award in recognition of our strong and ongoing commitment to diversity
  • Scored 95 percent on Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2006 Corporate Equality Index, a report on LGBT benefits within corporate America
  • Named among the top three law firms for women in Chicago in 2006, Presumed Equal: What America’s Top Women Lawyers Really Think About Their Firms
  • Awarded the 2006 Entrepreneurial Star Award from Business Women’s Network and Diversity Best Practices
  • Recognized in 2006 as a “Top 25 Law Firm for Disabled Attorneys and Gay/Lesbian Attorneys” by MultiCultural Law magazine
  • Included in the “Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity” in 2007 and 2005 by MultiCultural Law magazine
  • Named among the Bay Area firms and legal departments having the most women in management and women partners in 2005 by the Bar Association of the San Francisco’s No Glass Ceiling Initiative

For more information about Foley & Lardner’s commitment to diversity, please contact our Chief Diversity Partner – Maureen McGinnity – at mmginnity@foley.com, and/or our Director of Diversity – Michelle Michaels – at mmichaels@foley.com.