Diversity and Inclusion

Willkie believes that everyone benefits from a diverse and inclusive workplace. To that end, we strive to hire lawyers with different backgrounds in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and culture.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee is central to these efforts and summer law clerks learn about the Committee immediately upon arrival. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is involved in summer law clerk orientation, takes an active role in mentoring, hosts at least one summer law clerk event, and seeks to involve summer law clerks in our broader diversity and inclusiveness program.

Our Women’s Professional Development Committee (WPDC) also participates actively in the summer program. The WPDC typically hosts a networking event for summer law clerks, participates in mentoring, and includes summer law clerks in ongoing programming.

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We reinforce all of this effort through partnerships with law-school affinity groups including APALSA, BLSA, LALSA, LAMBDA/OUTLAWS, SALSA, and Women’s Law Associations, sponsoring receptions, career nights, mock interview programs, moot court competitions, and seminars with these groups.

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Our Approach

Most of Willkie’s efforts in the area of diversity and inclusion are coordinated through our Diversity Committee, which has been in place for more than two decades and meets regularly to address matters related to the recruitment, retention, promotion and career development of our diverse attorneys. The Committee – made up of associates, counsel and partners and firm management – is headed by the firm’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, Kim A. Walker, who is also Special Counsel in the Intellectual Property Department.

Our diversity and inclusion efforts have included engaging a diversity consultant to foster diversity awareness and improve the partner-mentor program and assigning system. The consultant conducts periodic diversity training for all attorneys and staff managers in our New York and Washington offices. We also sponsor luncheons, summer law clerk gatherings and other events that celebrate the firm’s diversity and foster relationships among our attorneys.

Other recent initiatives include:

  • Hosting a Build-A-Bike event to benefit the Legal Aid Society. A diverse team of associates was paired with partners to participate in team-building exercises, resulting in the assembly of 12 bicycles.  We then gave the new bikes to 12 boys and girls who needed them.
  • Initiating a cross-office mentoring program through which associates in our DC office are paired with diverse partners in our NY office, resulting in a successful career development program.
  • Members of the Executive Committee take diverse associates on one-on-one lunches, fostering  interaction between the associates and firm leadership and leading to strong work relationships.
  • A mentoring program with Eagle Academy for Young Men, assisting them in preparing for state mock trial and moot court competitions. We prepared several college letters of recommendation for the participants and present one or two scholarships at the graduation ceremony.

In addition, Willkie has established a Women’s Professional Development Committee to offer professional development programs and guidance to women attorneys as they navigate their way in the firm and the legal profession. 

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Willkie includes diversity and inclusiveness efforts in our summer law clerks program and reaches out to law school organizations that focus on the interests of students of diverse backgrounds. For example, we invite members of these organizations to our offices in New York and Washington to discuss ways we can work in tandem with students to build upon our diversity and inclusion initiative. We have co-sponsored events, including interview and resume-writing workshops, with several of these organizations. We also conduct on-campus interviews at schools with diverse student populations, and participate in various diversity job fairs, including the Northeast BLSA Job Fair. For lateral hires, we engage recruiting firms that share our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

For more information on recruiting, see our Careers Page.

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Support of Organizations

Willkie’s efforts have included participation in various diversity conferences, including:

  • American Bar Association National Conference for the Minority Lawyer
  • Minority Corporate Counsel Association Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference
  • The New York City Bar Associate Roundtable Discussion Series
  • DC Women’s Bar Association Conference on Best Practices for Women Lawyers and Their Firms
  • The New York City Bar Annual Diversity Conference

We also lend our support to numerous organizations that serve a diverse population, including:

  • National Lesbian and Gay Law Foundation
  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP Greater DC Community Foundation
  • LGBT Bar Association of New York 
  • Hispanic Lawyers Society of New York 
  • Empire State Pride Agenda
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • American Civil Liberties Union 
  • Women Empowered Against Violence
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

In addition, we have signed and are committed to the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Statement of Diversity Principles.

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Diversity in the Community

Willkie attorneys reinforce the firm’s diversity and inclusion commitment in their legal work, representing victims of civil rights violations and domestic violence, and assisting clients seeking asylum. We serve as general counsel to Women in Need, and work with Her Justice (formerly inMotion) and The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Please see our Pro Bono section for additional information regarding our involvement in the community.

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