At SRZ, we are committed to promoting equal opportunity for all and to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. By recognizing and celebrating our individuality and diverse backgrounds, we are able to foster a supportive and collaborative environment for all employees and raise awareness within our firm of important diversity issues.
The firm has taken on a number of initiatives to support its commitment to diversity:
Recruiting a broad range of candidates is key to our diversity initiatives. Each year, we visit a variety of law schools in order to meet a diverse group of law students.
Our summer program includes social events that recognize the diversity of the lawyers at the firm. The Diversity Committee co-sponsors the annual summer cooking class event at the Institute of Culinary Education, and the women summer associates have a dedicated dinner with women partners where they discuss their work experiences in an intimate environment.
Summer associates are also encouraged to attend summer events throughout the city held by diversity-related organizations such as Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (PALS), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project. The firm sponsors several of these receptions.
SRZ’s Diversity Committee drives the firm’s diversity initiatives relating to the recruitment, retention, promotion and general career development of our attorneys. The Committee draws on attorneys from throughout the firm and at all levels of seniority, as well as members of our Recruiting and Professional Development Departments. The Committee meets monthly to ensure that the firm’s diversity initiatives continue to be successful through community building, education and outreach.
Local Community Outreach - Service and Sponsorship
SRZ is committed to diversity initiatives not only within our firm, but also within our local community. We regularly partner with a variety of organizations that support our diversity goals.
St. Jean Baptiste High School in Manhattan
The Diversity Committee recently partnered with New York Cares and the Legal and Compliance Division of a global financial institution to conduct a college readiness workshop at St. Jean Baptiste High School in Manhattan. Volunteers from both organizations met with students at the all-girls high school, many of whom were from less privileged families and attend the school on scholarship. The evening included one-on-one mock interviews, panel discussions on strategies and opportunities for obtaining financial aid, and small group sessions focused on college application essays.
Legal Outreach Program
Last summer, our summer associates and members of the Diversity Committee hosted a college readiness workshop for high school students from the Legal Outreach Program. Legal Outreach is a non-profit organization that partners with SRZ annually to offer intensive legal and education programs designed to prepare urban youth from underserved New York City communities to compete at the highest academic level. The students spend one week of the program at SRZ gaining exposure to various practice areas and attending various workshops organized by SRZ attorneys.
We have a long history as a leader in pro bono initiatives and have worked with a number of diverse organizations, including the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families, the Columbia University Sexuality & Gender Project, the Harlem Success Academy, the Harlem School for the Arts, the HIV Law Project, Immigration Equality Inc., the Lambda Legal Defense Fund., the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Opportunity Agenda and the Tanenbaum Center on Inter-Religious Tolerance.
SRZ is a signatory to the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Statement of Goals for Increasing Minority Representation and Retention. As part of that commitment, we have increased our efforts to hire minority lawyers by interviewing at a broader range of law schools and diversity job fairs.
In addition, we actively participate in several diversity-focused job fairs each year, including the Lavender Law Career Fair held during the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association’s Annual Conference, the Northeast Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Job Fair and the LeGaL Career Fair.
Affinity groups for African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and women meet on a regular basis and provide members a forum to gather socially, network, mentor and discuss diversity-related work experiences.
Women’s Affinity Group
Our Women’s Affinity Group is directed by a steering committee, which includes women partners, special counsels and associates of various levels of seniority from different practice groups. The Affinity Group actively works to plan events for SRZ’s women attorneys. The group recently sponsored two women to attend the 2012 Women in Law Leadership Academy.
The Diversity Committee is committed to educating all members of the firm by continuing the awareness of and conversation around important diversity issues. In the fall of 2012, the Diversity Committee spearheaded a lively and timely discussion on bullying and the law. We were fortunate to have Professors Suzanne B. Goldberg, of Columbia Law School, and Marc R. Poirier, of Seton Hall Law, in the office to debate the novel legal issues raised by the recent case involving gay college student Tyler Clementi, the criminal prosecution of his roommate Dharun Ravi, and the place of cyberbullying in the law. Click here to view a copy of the event invitation.