A July 23 Law360 article highlighted Ropes & Gray as one of four law firms that stand out in the area of gender diversity. The article appeared as part of the publication’s 2017 Glass Ceiling Report, which also ranked Ropes & Gray number five on its “Ceiling Smashers” list of large law firms with the highest percentage of female equity partners.
At a time when many law firms struggle with gender diversity, Ropes & Gray has distinguished itself for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The firm was ranked number one for overall diversity in the 2018 Vault guide, and it achieved its highest ranking ever—number two—on The American Lawyer’s elite “A-List” of the top 20 U.S. law firms, in part because the publication included gender diversity among its criteria for the first time this year.
The Law360 article showcased several of Ropes & Gray’s diversity and inclusion programs that are designed to recruit, retain and develop women attorneys. These programs include flexible work arrangements (Flex), mentorship programs for women, leadership training initiatives, a “Re-ttorney” program to welcome back lawyers who have left the firm, and a career-attorney program for lawyers who choose a non-partnership track (but who may later switch back to a partnership track).
“This used to be an up or out profession,” said Laura Hoey, a government enforcement partner in the Chicago office who serves as co-chair of the Ropes & Gray Women’s Forum, “and law firms are realizing that that's not sustainable.”
The article profiles private investment funds partner Deb Lussier (Boston), who participated in the Flex program for nine years during a time in her career when she needed to scale back her hours to accommodate her family life. She later changed her practice area and became a partner. “I hope that my story and my experience can offer support for other women attorneys who are thinking about how to balance their careers with other aspects of their lives,” she said.
In addition to its diversity and inclusion programs, Hoey noted Ropes & Gray’s one-tier equity partnership structure that allows for more gender equity in leadership ranks. Twenty-five percent of partners at Ropes & Gray are women, which is above industry average, making the firm a leader in advancing equality at the top.
The article notes that Ropes & Gray was as an early adopter of diversity and inclusion efforts that are now common to many of the firm’s peers, and it emphasized the way in which Ropes & Gray has woven these initiatives into its culture.
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