Law firms thrive or fail based on the quality of their work. At Schiff Hardin we know that diverse teams think deeper thoughts, generate more creative ideas, and provide broader perspectives. Why? Because teams of lawyers with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives don’t just repeat each other. They challenge and question each other. It is this process that produces great results. 

We know how to create great teams. That process starts with our commitment to recruit, retain, and advance talented people of diverse backgrounds. It continues with our commitment to make the firm an inclusive environment, one that supports communities, groups, individuals, and initiatives that encourage people of diverse backgrounds to enter the legal profession, to be successful in their careers at Schiff Hardin, and to help future generations of talented, diverse people do exactly the same.

Our efforts have been rewarded. We’re grateful for that recognition but still hard at work to improve more. 

  • Recognition

    Leading publications and national rankings organizations applaud our diversity efforts. We are especially proud of the following recent awards: 

    • Human Rights Campaign. For the seventh year running, we received a 100 percent score on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index, as determined by our LGBT workplace policies and benefits.
    • Working Mother Magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers. Schiff Hardin has been named one of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women nationwide every year since 2012.
    • Equality Illinois. For the past six years, we have been honored as a leading law firm for LGBT workplace inclusion and equality.
    • Law360. Schiff Hardin was named a Top 50 Law Firm for Minority Equity Partners in 2016.
  • Recruiting and Professional Development

    Our recruiting and retention practices help us hire and retain a diverse group of lawyers. To us, law student recruits are a lot more than their resumes.

    Several years ago, we added two new parts to our interview process. The first is an interview with a diverse panel of Schiff Hardin lawyers. Schiff Hardin lawyers ask structured, pre-planned behavioral questions to gather extensive information about students’ professional, academic, extracurricular, and other individual life experiences. The format is designed to eliminate bias, and panel members have been professionally trained to interview effectively. The atmosphere is welcoming and lets students highlight their individual backgrounds, experiences, and talents.

    The second new part is a short writing exercise. We hand candidates a case and ask them to answer a question posed by someone who is affected by it. This part of our interview helps us see who is ready and eager to interact with real clients early in their career. We seek organized thoughts, clear writing, and an appropriate tone. We review the writing exercises without knowing any information about the candidate, which guarantees that our process is gender- and diversity-neutral.

    We are finding many diverse law students who are excited about the Firm – and we are actively recruiting them.

    Over the past few years, we have redoubled our efforts to increase the pool of diverse candidates that we interview. We interview at the Cook County Minority Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, Bay Area Diversity Job Fair, Lavender Law, and on campus at law schools nationwide, including Howard University School of Law, a historically black law school in Washington, D.C.

    We also recently took on another project with Howard University School of Law. In the fall of 2016, Schiff’s legal writing coach, Julie Schrager, began offering writing workshops to Howard law students. She hosted her second workshop in February 2017. We view these workshops as a valuable investment to ensure that talented, diverse future lawyers are fully equipped to enter the profession. 

    Several of our lawyers also participate in formal and informal mentoring programs, including the University of Chicago’s Women’s Mentoring Program, Northwestern University’s OUTlaw organization, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, and the LINK Unlimited Scholars program. 

    Our recent recruiting results bear out our efforts. Our 2016 summer program was 60% women and 20% diverse.  And the 2015 summer associate class had the highest percentage of women summer associates in firm history – 75%. 

    Further, our inclusive and supportive environment helps us retain talent. Nearly ten years ago, Schiff Hardin appointed its first Professional Development Partner, Lisa Brown, to work with all of our associates to ensure that they receive the professional opportunities and training they need to navigate the law firm environment and manage their work. The Firm also hired a legal writing coach, Julie Schrager, to work closely with our summer associates and associates to improve their writing skills. Julie conducts small- and large-group workshops and works one-on-one with individual lawyers. Through Julie’s work, we provide every lawyer the opportunity to improve in this critically important area.

    We plan on the success of every associate and lateral we hire. But at the same time we know that attorneys have different needs and goals at different stages of their careers and that no two career paths are the same. For these reasons, we mentor all attorneys and monitor our progress toward creating long, successful, and rewarding careers for each of them.  

    We also have a compensation and advancement structure that is adapted to associates’ individual needs. There are three tiers of associates. Each practice group has specifically identified and communicated the competencies that are required for advancement. And to further ensure that our associates gain the experiences and skills they need to advance, we hold annual “practice mastery” conferences for each firm associate.

    Our hiring approach has one additional unique feature:  we allow new associates to spend up to a year working in their choice of practice areas before selecting a primary area. Further, once an associate has chosen a primary practice area, he or she may still work in others. These policies help us recruit, retain, and advance minority and women attorneys.

image description
IN OUR WORDS

Clay A. Tillack

Partner
Schiff Hardin’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is exemplified by the photograph on my desk. It’s of my husband and me taken on the day we celebrated our marriage. Many of my colleagues joined us at the event. Even more have wished us well. The firm’s support for LGBT equality is personal for me.
image description
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.
image description
IN OUR WORDS

Joanne B. Faycurry

Partner
I left my prior law firm of nearly 24 years and joined Schiff Hardin in part because of the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Now I see that commitment firsthand. The firm devotes substantial resources to attracting, developing, and promoting its women attorneys.
image description

Schiff Hardin Secures LGBT Victory for Civil Unions in Illinois

The ruling represents an important victory for LGBT rights in Illinois, especially in cases involving religious freedom as a justification for discrimination. MORE