We are dedicated to attracting, retaining and promoting lawyers and administrative staff from diverse backgrounds. To ensure our continuing focus on this commitment, we have an active Diversity Committee that identifies and addresses diversity-related challenges and initiatives in four general areas: mentoring, work opportunity and environment, education and communication. Debevoise also has a full-time Diversity Manager who coordinates initiatives with the Diversity Committee, the Management Committee and various other constituencies in the firm.
One of the greatest strengths of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is its community. The “Fundamental Values of the Firm” articulate the importance of “cohesiveness and collegiality within the firm, founded in the character of those we select as partners, counsel, associates and staff and in fundamental principles of fairness and cooperation” with “an emphasis on the success of the firm as a whole.”
Debevoise is committed to creating a work environment that values each individual’s contributions to our community. We recognize that we must work together every day to respect the different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences of people at the firm and to support our colleagues so they have the ability to develop to their full potential. These values are the foundation of our firm and strengthen our ability to work together as a team so that we can provide our clients with the best legal services available.
Debevoise is committed to promoting the diversity of our community. This commitment stems naturally from the values that shape our firm. To continue to flourish, our firm strives to recruit and develop the finest talent from all backgrounds and beliefs. Our ability to respond to the needs of our clients, in an increasingly open and global environment, requires that the members of our community have a broad range of skills and experiences. The firm’s commitment to diversity furthers these goals.
The Diversity Committee
The Diversity Committee comprises partners, counsel, associates and administrative professionals, and develops and implements specific programs to further its objectives, which include:
- Improving the experience of all lawyers at the firm.
- Increasing the diversity of our community at all levels, including the partnership.
- Fostering an environment of greater inclusion and better communication that benefits all Debevoise lawyers.
- Working to become not just “one of the best,” but a true leader in law firm diversity.
In furtherance of these objectives, the Diversity Committee promotes awareness, provides education and encourages open and ongoing discussions about diversity issues throughout the firm. Specific initiatives include:
- Empowering formal affinity groups to strengthen the support systems and sense of community among different groups and increase the substantive training opportunities for associates of diverse backgrounds.
- Actively involving affinity groups in the recruiting process, including reaching out to offerees, strengthening relationships with external pipeline programs to increase the pool of diverse candidates, hosting recruiting events for candidates of diverse backgrounds and acting as contacts throughout the recruiting process and as advisors for summer associates of diverse backgrounds.
- Sponsoring diversity-related presentations and professional development programs for all lawyers.
- Organizing diversity and inclusion training by outside diversity consultants for partners, counsel, associates and administrative staff.
- Measuring our efforts on a regular basis through internal analysis and third-party surveys of our lawyer population.
- Reviewing best practices of other law firms as well as corporations with market-leading diversity programs.
- Participating actively in outside organizations that promote diversity.
We strive to create an inclusive environment where every lawyer and administrative staff member has an opportunity to thrive and succeed. Our lawyers from traditionally underrepresented groups have formed interest groups that meet regularly, socialize, host special events and provide networking and mentoring opportunities. These groups include African-American, Asian, Latino/a, LGBT and Jewish Lawyers Affinity Groups, and a Women’s Resource Group.
In the News - Diversity
Mary Beth Hogan, Co-Chair of the Litigation Department, is featured in Profiles in Diversity Journal’s 12th Annual “Women Worth Watching®” issue. The issue honors women leaders and the corporations, organizations and institutions that recognize, employ and promote women in the workforce.
Debevoise is a partnering sponsor of Catalyst’s study “Women of Color in U.S. Law Firms.” Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. Debevoise also has partnered with Catalyst on its recently released global report, “Inclusive Leadership: The View From Six Countries.”
Debevoise partners Mary Beth Hogan and Shannon Rose Selden were featured in a documentary on The New York Times website, “Great Expectations for Female Lawyers.” The piece was a follow-up from a 2001 New York Times Magazine article in which 21 women lawyers at Debevoise were profiled and interviewed about the career prospects for women in law firms. The video provided an update on the five women’s careers and their reflections on ambition, leadership and success.
The Dalston Pop-Up Advice Clinic, which is run through a partnership between Debevoise, BPP Law School, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, and Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC), won the “Best Pro Bono Partnership” accolade at the LawWorks Pro Bono Awards 2013. It was the second award the initiative won following its success as Pro Bono Team of the Year in the Halsbury Legal Awards earlier in the year.
Sanctuary for Families, a New York-based direct service and advocacy organization working with survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking and their children, honored Debevoise with its “Law Firm Leadership Award” for the firm’s pro bono service.
Partner James E. Johnson was named to Black Enterprise’s List of the Nation’s Top Black Lawyers and to Crain’s New York Business’s List of Most Powerful Minorities.
Debevoise Presiding Partner, Michael W. Blair, is a director of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization of chief legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to using all means at their disposal to create a truly diverse legal profession. Former Presiding Partner Rick Evans was among the founding board members of the Council.
Debevoise won two awards at the second annual Americas Women in Business Law Awards, presented by Euromoney Legal Media Group. Debevoise partner Erica Berthou was named “Rising Star: Corporate” and Debevoise was named “Best National Firm for Work-Life Balance.” The awards recognize leading female business practitioners across more than 20 practice areas as well as firms dedicated to the advancement of women in the legal profession.
Former partner Lorna G. Schofield was named to the “50 Most Influential Lawyers in America” list, compiled by The National Law Journal. On August 1, 2009, she became the first Asian-American woman to chair the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation. She became Debevoise’s first woman of color partner in 1991, and was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, becoming the first Filipino-American to serve as a federal judge.
Industry Recognition - Diversity
Debevoise placed No. 1 overall in The American Lawyer’s recently published “10-Year A-List,” a ranking of the law firms who have earned the highest cumulative score on the A-List since its inception in 2003. The annual A-List ranks firms according to their performance in four categories: revenue per lawyer, pro bono service, associate satisfaction and diversity. In addition to the firm’s overall top score, Debevoise also placed first in pro bono, second in associate satisfaction, third in revenue per lawyer and fourth in diversity.
In its most recent survey, Multicultural Law magazine ranked Debevoise eighth nationwide in overall diversity in its annual “Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity” survey.
Vault's 2013 rankings list Debevoise among the top ten firms for diversity among minorities, women and LGBT lawyers.
In 2013, Debevoise was recognized as one of the “50 Best Law Firms for Women” by Working Mother Media and the Flex-Time Lawyers Group. Debevoise is the only New York firm to have made the list every year since its inception.
The Euromoney Legal Media Group named Debevoise the “Best National Firm for Work-Life Balance.”
Download Diversity Brochure
In 2014, Debevoise was once again awarded a perfect score of 100 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) in its annual ranking of LGBT employment policies, designating the firm one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” It was the sixth consecutive year that the firm was recognized.
Leadership - Diversity
Women partners and partner members of minority groups play a critical role in the leadership of the firm, and industry organizations outside of it.
Mary Beth Hogan is co-chair of the firm’s Litigation Department and Peggy Davenport is co-chair of the firm’s Corporate Department. Maeve O’Connor is a member of the firm’s Management Committee. Nicole Levin Mesard is co-chair of the Hiring Committee and the Talent Steering Committee, and Catherine Amirfar is co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee. M. Natasha Labovitz is co-head of the Business Restructuring & Workouts Group and Satish Kini is co-chair of the Banking Group. Becky Silberstein and Joe Hamid are co-chairs of the Associate Liaison Committee, Ben Lim is head of the Hedge Funds and Derivatives & Structured Finance Groups, and Ivan Mattei is co-head of the Project Finance and Infrastructure Group. In addition, Sarah Fitts is co-chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Group.
In leadership of the profession outside the firm, Barbara Paul Robinson was the first woman President of the New York City Bar Association (1994-96). She is currently a member of the DirectWomen Institute, a joint venture of the ABA and Catalyst formed to train women lawyers to become directors of public companies. Mary Beth Hogan is a board member of Catalyst, a research and advisory organization that promotes women’s career advancement and leadership, and is President-elect of the Board of Directors of Nazareth Housing. Sarah Fitts is a vice chair of the Renewable and Demand Energy Resources Committee of the Section on Environment, Energy and Resources of the American Bar Association, a member of the Leadership Council of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and a board member of the Urban Teaching Corps. She also chaired the New York City Bar Association’s Asian Affairs Committee from 2007-2010.
Debevoise is an active participant in the Diversity Committee of the New York City Bar Association and is a signatory of the City Bar’s three diversity statements.