Covington Created a New Position to Focus on Diversity
One of the first priorities for Covington's newly created Chair of Diversity Initiatives position is easing re-entry for women into the workforce. Product liability and mass tort practice co-chair Michael Imbroscio was asked by the management committee to take on the role, and he says the issue is something he thought about often during his 10 years as hiring partner. The new position, which began Jan. 1, was created to give someone a holistic perspective on diversity at the firm, including recruiting, retention, community building, and responding to client demands. A lot of women leave law, and they have an immense potential to contribute to the firm, Michael says; the difficulty is that there's really no established pathway to reentry. He adds: we have to remove any sort of stigma or barrier to re-entry.
The firm is one of 18 to participate in the OnRamp Fellowship—a program that smooths the transition back into the legal profession through one-year paid positions at top firms—but Michael says that's only one part of the firm's focus on retaining women lawyers. Another was the decision made back in 2012 to give people the opportunity to ask to extend the standard eight-year partnership track. Since people take time off or go part-time—women but also men, for a variety of reasons—letting them delay or extend the senior associate consideration process can relieve some of the pressure and keep folks in the system. (This year, four men and four women participated in the extended track program.) Michael says they're also thinking about a different title to give folks who re-enter the law firm after significant time off (so they're not an "associate" when others of their vintage who didn't take time off are all "partner" or "counsel"). For now, he says "for people who are looking for a way back in but don't know who to call, I say: Call me!"