Sheppard Mullin Encourages Diversity and Leadership
The 2015 National Association of Women Lawyers survey report states that the typical law firm has two women and eight men or 22% women on their highest U.S.-based governance committee. At Sheppard Mullin, women partners fill 50% of elected positions on each of its top governing committees which include Executive and Compensation.
That didn’t happen by chance. Firm Chair Guy Halgren encouraged women to run for the seats, but as he has said, it was their own qualifications that got them elected. While Sheppard Mullin’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important to its workplace and clients, another critical focus is to retain and advance diverse attorneys – including women. Said Halgren, “At Sheppard Mullin, we work hard to ensure that all the pieces are in place to achieve lasting diversity and inclusion – whether it’s the pipeline to law school and the profession or retention, advancement and leadership.”
A successful and visible partner in the firm, Pamela Westhoff, a NAIOP SoCal board member for more than 10 years, is an important role model and mentor for female associates. She has been recognized many times over for her expertise, and currently serves on Sheppard Mullin’s Compensation Committee, one of the Firm’s two top governing committees. She is a former co-leader of the Los Angeles office Women Lawyers Group, has been part of its Women Attorneys Leadership Council, and has participated in external women attorney initiatives with the L.A. County Bar and the Los Angeles Association of Women Lawyers. Pam often mentors junior attorneys and staff, especially those interested in real estate. Through her project assistant training program, Pam has encouraged over a dozen men and women to attend law school and/or business school, all of whom have moved on to successful legal and business careers.
Pam’s example is only one aspect of Sheppard Mullin’s multifaceted diversity and inclusion efforts, which include recruiting, retention, and advancement of attorneys from diverse backgrounds. Diverse perspectives are supported through a broad range of special interest groups, including groups for women attorneys, attorneys of color, LGBTQ attorneys and attorneys who are balancing the practice of law with parenting. All of these groups provide a community of support for their members, offer opportunities for professional and business development, and serve as a voice to firm leadership. As importantly, they have contributed to significant changes in firm policies, such as flexible work arrangements, expanded maternity leave, and new child birth paid leave for male and female attorneys (including adoptive parents).
Sheppard Mullin also reaches beyond its walls to impact diversity in the profession. They provide financial sponsorships and scholarships for diversity programs and initiatives on local, state and national levels, and their attorneys serve in top leadership roles in diversity bar associations and other diversity-related organizations around the country.
At Sheppard Mullin, senior leadership is committed to making important and consistent progress in the area of diversity and inclusion each year, and their clients and the profession have recognized them for doing so. Although 2016 was a banner year for such recognition, including being named a top law firm for diversity by prominent clients, and the only law firm to receive the California State Bar Diversity Award, Sheppard Mullin is already planning for and looking forward to more such achievements in the coming year.