Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

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Internal Diversity Networks:

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Sahar Abas

Sahar Abas

Associate and former Trainee Solicitor
Akin Gump truly recruits on the basis of merit and not gender, race, sexual orientation or ethnicity. As a state-school educated woman from an Afghan background, at no point did I feel out of place or different. On the vacation scheme, I looked around me and saw a range of individuals from a variety of backgrounds: there was no set “Akin Gump type” but rather everyone was unique and shared a similar enthusiasm for their work. The firm’s genuinely inclusive nature is built within the culture, with female partners inspiring those junior to them and leading by example. Akin Gump appreciates that diversity amongst its workforce encourages diversity of thought and this contributes to the success of the firm

Diversity at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld:

Women’s Initiatives

Akin Gump’s women’s professional development initiative has been in existence at the firm for over a decade and is now part of the Women’s Firmwide Resource Group (FRG).  The Women’s Resource Group seeks to maintain a supportive and collaborative environment for the firm’s women lawyers.  The committee ensures London office policies relating to women are supportive and competitive and also actively supports the retention of women lawyers and their promotion to leadership roles.  Some of our recent women’s initiatives include implementing a programme of regular virtual catch-up sessions for female lawyers during the pandemic, business development training tailored to our female counsel and the introduction of a menopause policy for all female staff in the London office.  We are proud that, in the last five years, 75% of London partner promotions have been women and 88% of female London lawyers have returned to work from maternity leave.

The firm also hosts Women’s Leadership Conferences, which bring together female lawyers firmwide, for two days of professional development and networking in Washington, D.C. The conference includes seminars and workshops on a variety of topics, including partnership and promotion, authenticity and presentation skills.

Under the leadership of Kim Koopersmith, who is the first woman at Akin Gump – and one of very few women at a major, global law firm – to hold the position of Chairperson, the firm has placed diversity and inclusion at the forefront. We are incredibly proud that from 2015 to 2021, firmwide, women have represented 40% of our partner promotions.

Social Mobility

We recognise the importance of social mobility in the legal industry and our London Diversity & Inclusion Council representatives work alongside the recruitment team to foster partnerships with external organisations to promote access to law.  We are a primary sponsor of AS Foundation, a charity offering financial relief for students pursuing a career in law, which provides successful applicants with study resources, laptops, textbooks and online research subscriptions and/or scholarships.

We participate in the Social Mobility Foundation Recruitment Success Service mentoring scheme and residential internship programme.  As part of our involvement, we provide students with mentors alongside the opportunity to gain insight into life at a city law firm via our structured internship programme. This programme ran virtually in 2020 and will run again in 2021.  We have also participated in CV/interview skills workshops for sixth-form students and sponsor the SEO City Horizons initiative.

We are long term sponsors of City Year UK, a leading youth service organisation that provides mentors to students in low-income communities.  In 2019, counsel Joe Hewton was honoured with City Year UK’s London Bridge Builder award for his exceptional mentorship.

We are proud to have been ranked 86th in the 2020 Social Mobility Employer Index (our inaugural application) and look forward to participating again in 2021 in order to assess and monitor our progress in this area.

LGBT+

Akin Gump’s support for members of the LGBTQ+ community begins at undergraduate level and extends through internal, firmwide initiatives to ensure equality for all employees.  This year, we are proud to have joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, which works to ensure that all people are accepted, without exception, in the workplace.

LGBTQ+ lawyers at Akin Gump maintain office and firmwide resource groups to encourage discussion to consider legal issues relevant to the LGBTQ+ community and to participate in pro bono matters and recruitment initiatives.  LGBTQ+ partners meet annually at the firm’s partner retreat to discuss mentoring, leadership and networking issues, and in the London office LGBTQ+ lawyers meet on an ad hoc basis to discuss LGBTQ+ initiatives.  The firm hosts a Diverse Lawyers Summit to bring together all lawyers who self-identify as racially/ethnically diverse and/or LGBTQ+.

The London Out and Allied group hosted a virtual pride event in celebration of Pride month and introduced the option for staff to include pronouns in their signature blocks.  In addition, the firm marked Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance that honours the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.  The firm has also recently launched an updated transitioning policy for all our US employees and is in the process of implementing a standalone transitioning policy for our UK-based employees.

Akin Gump sponsors and supports organisations focused on members of the LGBTQ+ community, including, the Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair, Lambda Legal, Out of America, Interlaw, the Law Society’s LGBT+ Lawyers Division and a number of pro bono clients.  We also utilise Proud Employers and Interlaw to post lateral lawyer openings on their job boards.

Nimesh Patel

Nimesh Patel

Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Firm Quote On Diversity:

At Akin Gump, we believe that the various perspectives and experiences of our lawyers and staff help us achieve exceptional results for our clients and bring important insights into all aspects of the firm. Our diversity and inclusion strategy includes the following goal areas: leadership commitment, recruiting and diversity pipeline, professional development and inclusive workplaces, and strategic partnerships.

Our London office is committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment where all members of the Akin Gump community can thrive. We have local chapters of our firmwide resource groups and a London diversity and inclusion council to support culture that sees differences as strength.