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12/27/06

Fenwick dangles diversity carrot before partners


These days, all law firms are being subjected to severe pressures to become more diversity friendly. Law firms run the risk of being sidelined during business for want of adequate diversity in their rosters.

However, technology-focused law firm Fenwick & West LLP shows how individual efforts towards minority issues can bring major returns. Diversity-related criteria are a part of many corporate strategies for calculating partner bonuses at year end. However, Fenwick’s diversity bonus policy ensures that partners totally focus on diversity if they want to be rewarded at year end. By using this innovative approach, partners earn massive packages depending on their active efforts towards supporting diversity at the firm. Fenwick & West created a program of 12 activities designed to support minority recruiting and associate mentorship and each partner in the firm has to participate in at least three of them. The partners get to choose from a range of diversity efforts, including recruitment, mentoring or involving minority colleagues on big cases.

Fenwick’s diversity bonus policy is a voluntary affair. However, nearly all of the firm’s 81 partners are involved in it. The firm would not divulge their success, but lawyers involved in it say that the focus never wavers. Ten percent of partners in the firm and almost one-third of associates belong to an ethnic minority, are homosexual, or have a physical disability, states a report in bizjournals.com.

Summing it up, Gordon Davidson, Fenwick & West Chairman said, “It’s the right thing to do.” Very true, since the Minority Law Journal’s 2005 survey of 240 law firms saw the firm in the sixth place.

Lanier Law Group expands towards East
North Carolina-based Lanier Law Group, a personal injury firm, expanded to three new locations in the east — Wilmington, Greenville and Fayetteville, taking the total to eight locations in the region. The Group is among the largest and fastest-growing North Carolina personal injury law firms, consisting of 45 professionals who specialize in assisting clients with issues such as health insurance problems, property damage, and total loss evaluations. The firm made the move because of their belief that a localized presence will help it to serve the community.

With more than 40 legal heavyweights on board, the firm enjoys a strong reputation for handling personal injury cases, from traffic accidents to medical malpractice, hoping to change the lives of all of its clients. Lanier approaches its clients’ problems in an individualized manner. An attorney, an insurance adjuster, and a paralegal provide a complete personalized service, which is often not found at larger firms. Lisa Lanier, founder, attributes this personal touch to be the stepping stone on which the firm is gaining tremendous foothold among its happy clients.

Fenwick & West LLP.

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