Robert L. Baechtold
At Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, diversity has always been a core value, but within the last five years, it has received a greater emphasis.
The best evidence of the success of the firm’s efforts is that since 1998, the firm has been able to increase the percentage of minority lawyers in its New York office from 12 percent in 1998, to 23 percent in 2002.
The firm’s results for women lawyers are equally impressive: having achieved steady growth since 1998, women lawyers now make up 27 percent of all lawyers at Fitzpatrick, Cella’s New York office. Women and minority partners are fully engaged in all aspects of firm’s life, and they also take an active role in the management of the firm.
Within the partnership ranks, over the last three years, Fitzpatrick, Cella has named a total of eight new partners. Fifty percent of those partners are women and one is a woman of color. During that same three-year period, 30 percent of all newly hired lawyers have been attorneys of color and more than 35 percent were women.
The firm also understands the need for work/life balance. It has responded positively to requests for more flexible hours and working arrangements. Currently, five percent of their lawyers, including a first-year associate who participated in the firm’s summer program, work part-time, telecommute, or have schedules with some combination of the two.
Fitzpatrick, Cella takes a broad-based approach toward recruiting and looks well beyond the traditional factors of a candidate’s law school name and class rank in assessing a candidate’s potential. While academic accomplishments are a consideration, the firm places great emphasis on other factors, such as motivation and drive, judgment, and the ability to function as part of a team.
The firm recruits at minority job fairs and looks outside the “top 10” schools to other law schools with significant numbers of minority students.
Fitzpatrick, Cella consistently has a presence at bar gatherings such as the “Charting Your Own Course” minority career development conference held annually in the D.C. region.
Fitzpatrick Cella, the first intellectual property firm to win the Sager Award, has found that this multi-faceted approach to diversity to be critical to achieving the impressive results that earned the firm this year’s award in the Northeast region.
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From the December 2002 issue of Diversity & The Bar®