We’ve been at it for some time. A decade ago we became the first firm to disrupt the traditional associate lockstep model. We’ve also created new professional roles to better support the way work is delivered today. We’ve worked hard to make our team inclusive. And we’ve found ways to partner with our clients and pool our talent. These innovations offer our clients palpable benefits, and they’ve earned us a spot on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Here’s how we’re doing it.
The lockstep advancement model wasn’t serving our lawyers or our clients. So we reinvented it. We have three associate levels – Associate, Managing Associate and Senior Associate. Each has well-defined criteria for advancement. We prepare our associates to excel at each level, providing extensive coaching and feedback. When they reach a promotion point we take them off the field for intensive academies that focus on gaining business acumen and developing project management and teamship skills. Our model gives associates the flexibility to advance at their own pace, and their rates increase only when they’ve gained proven skills.
We’ve also created new roles to help us deliver services more effectively and efficiently. “Career associates” – embedded in 18 of our practice groups – conduct basic research, due diligence and drafting. We also have a pool of dedicated project managers whom we assign to every major litigation and many types of transactions. Many of these team members are based at our Global Operations & Innovation Center in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Women make up 50 percent of law school graduates, but only 21 percent of partners at law firms. And these numbers haven’t changed much in the past decade. This is another area where we’re innovating. We start with a genuine commitment to women’s leadership. One third of our senior leadership and 40 percent of our global business unit leaders are women. We introduced the most generous parental leave program in the profession, combined with alternative work arrangement options. To help women who have left the workforce reintegrate, we participate in OnRamp Fellowships. And we’re collaborating with our clients on innovative solutions through our Women’s Advisory Board. We’re especially proud that more than half of the 19 lawyers we promoted to partner in 2016 are women. To learn more, please visit Women @Orrick.
Our clients believe diversity is a business imperative – and so do we. We work actively to ensure we field diverse teams. We prepare a “balanced scorecard” annually for each of our global business units. This report analyzes performance in the recruitment, retention and promotion of women, minority and LGBT lawyers, as well as client team composition. It is delivered by our senior management along with a set of recommendations for improvement. Through our Rising Leaders Program, each member of our Board and Management Committee sponsors a rising star with a diverse background, to help foster his or her advancement to leadership in our firm. We hold an annual professional development forum for in-house counsel featuring our diverse talent. Each fall we dedicate a day we call Dive/In to dialogue about inclusiveness. Clients often join us for Dive/In through events in our offices worldwide. And to help attract more veterans into private practice, we created our nation’s only Veterans’ Legal Career Fair, an event held annually in Washington, D.C. At the 2016 career fair, more than 30 law firms and dozens of corporate legal departments interviewed more than 150 candidates. To learn more, please visit Diversity & Inclusion @Orrick.