Racial/Ethnic Diversity

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Achieving diversity within our ranks isn't just good business sense — it's a matter of leadership, both in the profession and in our community. At Kirkland, we believe in fostering a culture in which differences are valued and where varying viewpoints are not just heard, they are encouraged. 

To that end, the Racial/Ethnic Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity and Inclusion Committee is focused on office-specific, Firmwide and external programs designed to address the needs and priorities of racial and ethnic minorities at Kirkland, including issues related to recruitment, retention and promotion within the Firm. The Subcommittee is also dedicated to furthering the involvement of racial and ethnic minorities in the legal profession as a whole.  For more information on these initiatives, read about our Diversity Leadership Series

Diversity Leadership Series

Kirkland’s Diversity Leadership Series (DLS) provides formal training, mentoring, and leadership opportunities for diverse attorneys via discussions, informational lunches and training sessions on topics of interest to attorneys at the Firm.

Affinity groups for African-American, Hispanic/Latino(a), LGBT and Asian attorneys also provide a network for our diverse attorneys to exchange ideas and develop relationships within smaller group settings. Such relationships serve to enhance the Kirkland experience and increase the retention of talented diverse attorneys.

Through our DLS, Kirkland recently launched a semi-annual "Path to Success" speaker series, which gives attorneys the opportunity to meet and learn more about senior leaders (both diverse and non-diverse) and their practices. Speakers share stories about their career paths — including the role diversity has played — while advancing the diversity dialogue and fostering new professional connections.

The Firm recently kicked off our Kirkland Connection Series (KCS) which offer informal off-site happy hours during which two to three senior partners meet with a small group of women and diverse attorneys for dinner or drinks and candid conversation. These programs create strong informal networking opportunities and foster relationships between senior leaders and other attorneys at the Firm.

Diversity Fellowship Program

Our commitment to diversity extends beyond policies for existing employees. Kirkland participates in numerous diversity job fairs across the country, as well as pipeline programs designed to foster interest in law careers among minority undergraduates and high school students. We are also proud to sponsor the Kirkland & Ellis LLP Diversity Fellowship Program, which aims to attract more minority students to the Firm and, more broadly, the practice of law. The program is available to second-year students at ABA-accredited law schools around the country. Since 2004, Kirkland has sponsored over 140 fellowship grants totaling more than $2.3 5 million, including fellowships to 10 students in 2015.

The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity

Kirkland was selected as City Lead in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Palo Alto for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) to implement a groundbreaking mentoring program for diverse first year law students from area schools. As City Lead, Kirkland has helped organize and execute the program, which matches first-year law students from participating schools with more than 50 law firm or corporate legal department mentors for individual and group mentoring activities and programs. Kirkland has 39 attorneys registered as active mentors for the 2015–2016 academic year.

Additionally, in the summer of 2015, Kirkland partnered with Verizon Communications Inc. and Accenture to host diverse first-year law students as a summer associates in the Firm's New York office through the LCLD 1L Scholars program. During this 10-week program, 1L Scholars were exposed to a variety of work assignments from different practice areas, including general litigation, commercial contracts and marketing. The 1L Scholars also attended the third annual LCLD 1L Scholars Retreat held in Dallas.

Other Pipeline/Mentoring Programs

In New York, Kirkland is a Partner Firm with the Corporate Law Internship Program of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), one of the first mentoring programs for high school students of color. Currently, SEO provides educational and career development opportunities to high school and college students and young professionals. Kirkland sponsors SEO interns immediately before their first year of law school who are mentored by attorneys at the Firm. Founded in 1963, SEO was one of New York City's first mentoring programs for high school students of color. As part of their support for the organization, Kirkland annually sponsors an SEO intern in our New York office who is treated like a summer associate and mentored by Kirkland attorneys.

We are a national sponsor of the Posse Foundation, an organization that identifies, recruits, and trains student leaders from urban public high schools to form multicultural teams called "posses." These teams participate in an intensive, eight-month pre-collegiate training program to prepare for enrollment at top-tier universities nationwide and to help promote cross-cultural communication on campus. In addition to supporting the Posse internship program, we sponsor a variety of programs through the Posse Foundation including an interview workshop at which our attorneys and staff provide resume feedback and interview coaching for students. In the summer of 2014, Kirkland hosted four Posse interns- one in our Washington, D.C. office and three in our Chicago office.

Since 2008, Kirkland has participated in the NALP/Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline program, which pairs law firms with diverse and disadvantaged high school students to teach them about substantive areas of the law and to encourage them to pursue legal careers. The goals of the program include increasing diverse high school student interest in legal careers, expanding student knowledge about legal careers and pathways to the legal profession, and providing social support and professional role models.

In Chicago, Kirkland is a High-5 Partner providing financial and programming support to Chicago Scholars. The Firm's contribution runs from the students' senior year in high school through their college graduation. Along with "gap" college scholarships, scholars receive substantial programming that includes a year of college preparatory workshops, mentoring, summer internships, and career networking opportunities. Every summer, our Chicago office provides summer internship opportunities for one or two Chicago Scholars.

Kirkland partners with Accenture in the Legal Prep Charter Academies Negotiations Program. Each legal community partner adopted one of Legal Prep’s student advisory groups. During this semester-long, school-wide program, Kirkland and Accenture volunteers mentored Legal Prep students and worked through a series of structured lessons and activities emphasizing critical thinking and analytical reasoning. The program provides students with a basic understanding of legal skills, an opportunity to learn and practice negotiation strategies, and unparalleled exposure to legal professionals. The program culminated in an intra-school competition. Legal Prep is Chicago’s first and only legal-themed charter high school and serves a student population that is more than 95-percent diverse and overwhelmingly low-income.

In Chicago, since the 2004-2005 school year, Kirkland has been an active partner with Cristo Rey and Christ the King in Chicago — college prep high schools that helps low-income students have a better life through job experience and education. Every student is required to participate in the Cristo Rey Work-Study Program (CRWSP), which allows student-employees to earn 70 percent of their tuition at the high school and gain real world job experience. Kirkland now employs twelve student workers each academic year and provides mentoring to students along the way. Since the program’s inception at Kirkland, we have sponsored 129 Cristo Rey positions.

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