Mission

Schiff Hardin strives to recruit, hire, develop, retain, and promote a diverse professional workforce on the basis of demonstrated merit and performance. We do this by cultivating an inclusive culture that promotes the likelihood of success for all lawyers at the Firm.  

We don’t just print that mission—we live it from the top down.

How? By creating an environment that develops leaders from our diverse teams and by pursuing initiatives to support all diverse lawyers and candidates.

Leadership:  First, the firm’s managing partner, Marci Eisenstein, also serves on our Diversity Committee. Marci is the firm’s first female managing partner and was the founding chair of the Diversity Committee. Her dual roles on the Executive Committee and the Diversity Committee ensure that diversity and inclusion are incorporated into the Firm’s business plan.

Giving Honor Where Honor Is Due:  Schiff Hardin values and rewards individual attorneys’ efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. In 2013 the Diversity Committee created the Firm’s “Catalyst Award,” a prize to call attention to individual attorneys’ diversity efforts and to recognize firm members’ contributions to the Firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Firm leadership presents the Catalyst Award annually to an attorney nominated by our peers, and who has been a catalyst for change in the prior year. Marci Eisenstein, our Managing Partner, received the inaugural award in 2014. Jane Montgomery, an environmental partner who was nominated by an associate whom she has mentored, received the 2015 award. In 2016, the award went to Intellectual Property Group co-leader Imron Aly for his role in promoting diversity in his practice group and encouraging our lawyers to be involved in diverse bar associations. The Firm donates to an organization chosen by the winner. The award is presented at our annual firm meeting. 

Schiff Hardin Diversity Committee:  Schiff Hardin’s Diversity Committee plays a critical role coordinating the Firm’s diversity efforts. The Diversity Committee has a singular and straightforward mission: 

To enhance the Firm’s ability to recruit, hire, develop, retain and promote a diverse professional workforce on the basis of demonstrated merit and performance by continuing the development of an inclusive culture that promotes the likelihood of success for all lawyers at the Firm.  

The Diversity Committee is a strategic, policy, and programmatic body that provides recommendations to firm leadership as to ways to foster and enhance the Firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The Diversity Committee has five subcommittees, each led by respected firm leaders.

Gender Diversity Subcommittee  

This subcommittee is one of several firm groups that focuses on gender issues. It works closely with our Parenting Group and Women’s Networking Group to provide educational and networking opportunities for women lawyers. The subcommittee sponsors events, including a participatory workshop on leadership presented by Second City’s professional development trainers. 

Race/Ethnicity/National Origin Diversity Subcommittee  

The subcommittee actively supports our lawyers’ participation in minority bar associations and other diversity-related projects and organizations. Recently one of our lawyers was featured in Law360 Minority Powerbroker Series discussing the barriers minorities face in the legal profession. Click here to read an interview with Sal Patel, the co- leader of our Intellectual Property Group.   

LGBT Subcommittee  

Our subcommittee chair actively recruits and mentors LGBT students and chaired Schiff Hardin’s firm-wide summer program for the third time in 2016. 

Veterans Subcommittee  

This subcommittee sponsors programs and creates policies that help the firm recruit and retain veterans.

Attorneys with Disabilities Subcommittee  

A primary goal of this subcommittee is to go beyond ADA compliance and create a workplace – both culturally and physically – where attorneys with disabilities flourish.

In June 2016, the subcommittees launched Inclusion Networks, our name for affinity groups. Our Inclusion Networks will create and implement programs to advance the subcommittee’s mission. All firm attorneys who are interested in a specific Inclusion Network are encouraged to join and help plan and participate in any programs.

  • Race, Ethnicity and National Origin

    Schiff Hardin has a proud and long tradition of supporting attorneys of diverse races, ethnicities, and national origins. Lawyers of color head up practice groups, manage offices, and serve on the firm’s governing committees. Twenty-five percent of the firm’s associates are diverse.

    We also work hard to make our profession more diverse. In 1999, the firm created a permanent endowment at Loyola University Law School for annual scholarships that are awarded to top-performing diverse first-year law students. We also underwrite an annual fellowship for Hispanic law students through the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois. Our writing coach held a workshop for 1L women lawyers of color through the Diverse Attorneys Pipeline Project. And we house the Just the Beginning Foundation in our Chicago office and support it in other ways as well. JTBF runs educational programs designed to encourage diverse young adults to pursue legal careers. 

    We also host events and our lawyers volunteer with Posse, a highly respected college admission and persistence organization that provides millions of dollars in scholarships and support to diverse high school students. Networking opportunities inside and outside the firm are numerous. Schiff Hardin lawyers actively participate in organizations that connect the firm and diverse lawyers and law students. For example, we support the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. (“BWLA”). The Firm has supported various BWLA events the past several years, including spring fundraiser luncheons, national summits, and roundtable discussions.

    Our attorneys also play prominent roles in bar associations, and our firm sponsors numerous events. We support bar organizations in every city where we maintain an office, including the following:

    Black Women Lawyers' Association

    Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms

    Cook County Bar Association

    Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC)

    Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago

    Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys

    Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois

    Hispanic National Bar Association

    South Asian Bar Association

    Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession

    Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)

    National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)

    National Bar Association

    National Employment Law Council

    National Immigration Justice Center (NIJC)

    North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA)

    San Francisco Bar Association, Justice & Diversity Center

  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender

    We have a national reputation as a leading law firm for LGBT workplace equality. Two recent awards stand out. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Corporate Equality Index gave us a perfect score and highest ranking based on our policies and benefits for LGBT employees for the sixth straight year. And we were ranked by Equality Illinois as a leading law firm for LGBT lawyers in Illinois. 

    Our LGBT lawyers are active on LGBT matters both inside and outside the firm. The chair of our LGBT Diversity Subcommittee, Clay A. Tillack, was elected to the board of directors of Equality Illinois in 2014. Clay ran our firmwide summer associate program for the third year in a row in 2016.

    We also perform significant work or offer meaningful support to the ACLU of Illinois; AIDS Legal Council of Chicago; Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund; Equality Illinois; and Human Rights Campaign, among others. Finally, Schiff Hardin reaches out to and supports LGBT law students. For example, Schiff Hardin sponsors Northwestern University’s OUTLaw organization and our lawyers serve as mentors for law students from several law schools. 

  • Women

    Founded in 1998, the Women’s Networking Group (WNG) creates opportunities for women lawyers at the firm. The group hosts career advancement and mentoring programs, internal and external networking events, and a wide range of business development initiatives.

    We create women rainmakers here. WNG recognizes that business development is critical to lawyers’ success and that women may develop business differently from men. Our events therefore cater to women’s networking styles.

    Our informal mentoring experiences are numerous. One of the most popular ones is a Women’s Networking Group program called “Stories and Lessons Learned” and created by women associates. Each year WNG hosts a luncheon featuring a panel of senior women partners selected by the associates. A senior associate moderates, and the women partners speak openly and honestly about their personal successes and “aha moments,” as well as their individual choices and pathways to success at the firm. Nearly all our women lawyers attend. These sessions have a proven record of enhancing associate/partner relationships and helping diverse young lawyers see different pathways to success here.

    Leadership Academy for Women

    Launched in 2014, our Leadership Academy for Women (LAW) does just that:  teach women lawyers here the leadership skills they need to advance. LAW presents interactive courses by experienced speakers. Participants walk away with exposure to a wide spectrum of tools and ideas to enhance their leadership and client service skills.

    The first year’s programs made a big splash. Summer associates, associates, and partners joined in a Second City workshop focusing on establishing “authority presence.” Women lawyers from all practice areas attended sessions titled “Ask for It: How to Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What You Really Want” and “Simple and Practical Tools to ID/Define Top-Priority Referral Sources and Potential Clients.”

    In 2015 we started to invite men to our programming, realizing that their attendance will help advance equality at the firm. We’ve since covered generational differences, providing and receiving feedback, and differences in communication styles. 

    Networking Events

    WNG programs include a broad range of networking and business growth events. They include the following:

    • US Open Tennis Tournament
    • Women Everywhere Agency Day
    • May Soiree Reception and Art Exhibit
    • One of a Kind Show: Networking Reception and Shopping Experience 
  • Family

    We know that many of our lawyers and staff balance demands outside the workplace with their work. For this reason, we offer flexible, part-time arrangements to lawyers, along with generous maternity, adoption, and parental leave programs. The firm’s Professional Development Partner, works closely with associates on staffing and workload issues, including reduced hour arrangements, leaves of absence, and flexible work schedules.

    We also have several groups dedicated to helping our attorneys and their families. The Schiff Hardin Parenting Group sponsors educational programs – it’s brought in a parenting coach to talk about communicating with children and a college counselor to discuss the admissions process. It also provides a forum for the firm’s working parents to network with one another, share referrals, and talk informally about parenting.

    And in 2014 some new moms created a spin-off group.  The New Moms Group organically grew out of an informal conversation at a networking event among a handful of women and turned into a firm-sponsored inclusion network of associates and partners that meets regularly to address topics relevant to parenting young children.  The New Moms Group checks in with women who are transitioning in and out of maternity leave and discusses topics including advancement during this phase of life, nanny pay and taxes, flex time/part time schedules, business development opportunities for the New Moms Group, and pumping in the office (e.g., ensuring all attorneys have locks on their office doors).  The New Moms Group also maintains FAQs for Schiff’s new moms (or aspiring new moms!) to highlight firm resources , explains HR logistics for maternity leave, and addresses common issues and concerns for new moms. 

  • Veterans

    We created a Veterans Subcommittee for two principal reasons. First, we want to pay particular attention to veterans in hiring. Veterans’ unique experiences enrich our firm and bring value. To that end, we hosted a recruiting reception for law students from Midwestern law schools who are veterans or veterans’ spouses, and we sponsor Northwestern Law School’s Veterans Law Association. Second, we want to retain the veterans we hire. We know that active duty veterans and reservists may require specific accommodations to help fulfill their military commitments, including flex-time arrangements and hour reductions. We accommodate those commitments and consider veterans’ needs when we make decisions that could affect them.

  • Attorneys with Disabilities

    We are strongly committed to ensuring that our lawyers with mental, physical, and sensory disabilities have every opportunity to have full and rich legal careers – and that they feel comfortable discussing their disability if they so choose. This subcommittee has overseen several projects designed to improve physical accessibility in our Chicago office, above and beyond what the law requires. Specifically, we have built accessible bathrooms for physically disabled visitors and staff and created a guide for people with disabilities to navigate the Willis Tower. We are working hard to identify additional improvements in our offices nationwide to enhance accessibility for all our employees and guests, including using technology to accommodate people with hearing impairments.

    We also cosponsored a benefit for DARE2TRI, the country’s first paratriathlon club. We seek out additional opportunities to support people with disabilities in all of our offices.

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IN OUR WORDS

Malerie Ma Roddy

Associate
Schiff Hardin has been committed to diversity for a long time. I recently attended a firm program featuring Professor David B. Wilkins of Harvard Law School. Professor Wilkins inspired me when he spoke about Schiff’s first African American partner, Wayne McCoy, and his legacy of helping and promoting diverse attorneys at the firm.
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IN OUR WORDS

Andrew N. Sawula

Partner
In my diversity committee work, I have met outstanding lawyers and law students who are veterans. Veterans bring a unique skillset to our firm. They have learned to communicate clearly and precisely, make quick decisions, and approach problems with a calm demeanor. These skills are essential for great lawyers.
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IN OUR WORDS

Gabriel M. Rodriguez

Partner
The firm has worked exceptionally hard over the past decade to improve diversity throughout the organization. We’re now seeing the benefits of that effort, as we learn to harness the power and leverage the talents of a highly diverse workplace for the benefit of our clients.
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IN OUR WORDS

Melody R. Cross

Associate
Trying to close a multi-million dollar financing while your young child has a fever and your spouse is away on business is never an easy task, but the team of people I work with (from the partners on down) has supported me through each rough patch, helping me be the parent I want to be while developing my skills as a lawyer.