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    February 6, 2008  

Outstanding Achievement
in Diversity Goes To . . .

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It's awards season in Hollywood, but right here in D.C. one firm is racking up diversity honors like Juno. (That's a recent movie if our attempt to sound hip sailed over your head.)


Kendal Tyre (left) co-chairs Nixon Peabody's Diversity Action Committee, while Harry Kelly heads up the D.C. office's law school recruiting efforts. Firm-wide, Nixon Peabody had 43 fall starters—40% are women, and more than a quarter are ethnic minorities. 


Just last week Nixon Peabody was one of five law firms named to Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For," ranked #66, with the magazine hailing GLBT-friendly policies that earned the firm a recent 100% approval rating from the Human Rights Campaign.  (Other law firms named were Arnold & Porter, Alston & Bird, Bingham McCutchen, and Perkins Coie.) Those honors go in the trophy case next to the firm's recent Thomas L. Sager Award from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Nixon Peabody's D.C. office also stood out in a diversity analysis done by 500 law students at top schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Yale, collectively known as "Building a Better Legal Profession."  (The group generated "Diversity Report Cards" for firms in the top six markets and based grades on the percentage of minority attorneys in each office's self-reported NALP statistics.  With a B+, Nixon Peabody had D.C.'s top mark.  Details on the BBLP methodology here.)



Kendal and Harry say they aren't surprised by the recognition.  In the fall of 2004, Chairman Harry Trueheart convened a "Diversity Summit" to organize what was then a patchwork of initiatives at the firm. A Diversity Action Committee was set up, consisting of eight partners and co-headed by Kendal in D.C. and Elizabeth Moore in New York. It has also formed African-American, Hispanic, Asian, women, and GLBT "affinity groups" among lawyers at the firm. The attorneys of color and GLBT attorneys hold regular conferences in Tarrytown, New York, aimed at recruiting minority attorneys and capitalizing on their diversity for business development.


Kendal specializes in franchising law. One of his clients, LuLuLemon, offers high-end yoga gear at stores in Tysons and on P Street. He notes that a diverse staff is a business advantage—Nixon Peabody responds to about 10 RFPs a month in which prospects ask about diversity.


Kendal says that when working the recruiting trail, it's nice to have recognition from independent sources to "cut through the fog" of claims about diversity. On the day the BBLP grades came out, Nixon Peabody was hosting a reception for 25 law students with summer job offers.  The firm took advantage of the timing and quickly created a display to show off their top ranking.

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