One of the core values of Phillips Lytle is our commitment to foster an inclusive environment where all individuals succeed professionally and contribute to our communities. We believe that what we offer our clients is enhanced by contributions from diverse sources. The extent of our commitment to this core value is reflected in numerous ongoing activities that take place across the firm.
Phillips Lytle has had an active Diversity Committee for many years. As currently constituted, the firm’s Diversity Committee includes the Managing Partner and partners from various Practice Groups and Teams, associate liaisons and the firm’s Director of Human Resources and Professional Development who is a member of the firm’s Executive Team. In fact, the work of the Diversity Committee has become so extensive and interest in it has become so strong, we have recently constituted a sub-committee of associates to provide additional support and resources for its work.
We engage in a wide array of activities, both internally and externally, to support a diverse workplace. In 1991, the firm established a diversity scholarship program for students at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School. The recipients of Phillips Lytle’s scholarships are those who are traditionally under-represented in the Western New York legal community, and demonstrate the intent to practice law in Western New York. Phillips Lytle was the first law firm to start such a fund at the school and is proud to have awarded scholarships to numerous recipients for more than two decades, and to continue this process each year.
Phillips Lytle seeks to attract diverse talent by engaging in active recruiting throughout the year. We have long participated in the DuPont Legal Minority Job Fair, and have continued to expand the number of minority job fairs in which we participate. We also engage in mentoring initiatives in local communities and are active in numerous other recruiting activities founded upon the recognition of the value of a diverse workplace. Numerous forums exist for the exchange of ideas among our associates, all of which enjoy management support. The firm’s policies are regularly assessed to ensure that they are progressive and fully support an inclusive culture.
We also recognize that retaining talent is a fundamental aspect of supporting a diverse workplace. The best way to retain talented lawyers is to give them the tools and opportunities they need to grow professionally and to manage competing demands. We have steadily increased our training programs for associates, providing greater opportunities to learn from our highly skilled attorneys and from within our clients’ in-house legal departments. The firm’s training program is led by its Director of Human Resources and Professional Development, a seasoned attorney, who has the insight and experience to know what training is necessary to build a successful career. We are proud of the fact that Phillips Lytle is fully accredited by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board as a provider of continuing legal education to attorneys. What’s more, Phillips Lytle sponsors attendance at numerous conferences each year where the agenda includes best practices in the workplace and the importance of diversity in business and civic life.
Other keys to retention are recognition, feedback and maintaining a culture of dedication and commitment. We recognize and support mentoring as an integral part of training and building relationships. Attorneys at all levels, including our summer associates, participate in the mentoring process. Phillips Lytle continues to develop training opportunities, retreats and other educational and social events.
Phillips Lytle has always been dedicated to being a leader in the legal business community, as well as to the communities we serve. Our attorneys take leadership, sponsorship, committee and other roles in professional and civic organizations which promote the advancement of diversity in the business community.
These organizations are broad reaching and include:
- The Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys
- The International Institute of Buffalo
- The Minority Bar Association of Western New York
- The Minority Corporate Counsel Association
- The DuPont Legal Minority Counsel Network
- The National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
- The Pro Bono Institute
- The Rochester Black Bar Association
- The Western New York Women’s Fund
- The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York
- The Capital District Women’s Bar Association
- The DuPont Women Lawyers’ Network (DWLN)
- The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)
- The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
- The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY)
- The Northeast Black Law Students Association (NEBLSA)
- The LeGal Foundation
- The Harvard Black Law Students Association
- The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession
- The Akilah Institute for Women
- Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALANY)
- National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA)
Phillips Lytle’s pro bono program is an important component of our commitment to diverse communities. Such services benefit organizations that assist the indigent and institutions that contribute to the quality of life in our communities. Over the last three years, Phillips Lytle has provided more than $3.1 million in legal services to low income and disadvantaged individuals and families, and not-for-profit groups.
Phillips Lytle’s civic participation is significant. We sponsor hundreds of charitable and educational events annually. We have always encouraged attorneys to be active members of their communities and to serve on boards or institutions of the attorney’s choice. We are proud of the fact that our attorneys have participated in hundreds of civic, charitable and not-for-profit boards for decades.
We continue to build on our commitment to bettering our communities through corporate volunteerism efforts. Phillips Lytle’s “Volunteer Crew” was established in 1994 and is managed by a committee of Phillips Lytle employees. The core team of volunteers recruits and coordinates the activities of more than 100 full-time employees and attorneys of the firm and their family members. Thousands of hours are spent working on initiatives such as delivering meals, partnering with clients in school mentoring programs, staffing community events, cleaning, painting and providing free legal services. This corporate volunteerism is a natural extension of our tradition of philanthropy, and is a key part of our corporate citizenship program.
Our attorneys have long participated in Leadership Buffalo. The mission of this program is to unite and develop existing and emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives in order to increase their knowledge of community issues, broaden their vision, and enhance their individual and collective ability to lead.
All of these efforts to support missions and entities that promote diversity are essential to our culture and our identity.
The Phillips Lytle Women’s Affinity Group seeks to develop and promote women lawyers and maximize their opportunities for business development and leadership. The group promotes networking and training of women attorneys and provides support for women lawyers in the firm. Innovative programs and ongoing dialogue are at the core of this initiative.
Phillips Lytle participates in a number of pipeline programs aimed at having a positive impact on the pipeline of entrants into the legal profession.
Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program
This program places New York inner-city high school students with legal employers for the summer. In the summer of 2013, Phillips Lytle hired two individuals to work at the firm and observe lawyers in our New York City office. Students who have participated in this program had positive and varied experiences including shadowing the firm’s litigators, real estate and banking attorneys. The firm’s participation in this program was once again a resounding success, and the firm intends to hire students from this program in 2014.
Moot Court Coaching
Phillips Lytle attorneys coach mock trial teams of high school students participating in state-sponsored competitions. In addition, in 2013 and 2014, the firm participated in the judging of the Northeast Region of the National Black Law Students Association Frederick Douglass Moot Court competition.
One of our most exciting achievements has been the development of Phillips Lytle’s own innovative “Peace Out!” pipeline program. As part of this exciting program, teams of attorneys work with middle school students in underserved communities to introduce them to the practice of law. The Peace Out! program engages students in role playing, as they explore problem solving and dispute resolution in a scripted legal controversy led by our practitioners. We have developed a variety of classroom exercises where students organize legal positions and ultimately make and judge a courtroom argument, engage in negotiations on behalf of the client’s interest, or participate in an arbitration. In addition to the recognition that Peace Out! is garnering in our local communities, the program has also become a part of firm life. Partners, associates and the firm’s summer associates participate in this innovative program by leading sessions, designing exercises and establishing an ongoing connection with the program’s participants. To date, more than 1,076 middle school students and over 73 Phillips Lytle attorneys have participated in this program in Buffalo, Rochester and New York City.
To stay connected with students who participate in Peace Out!, we have developed a website for students that features educational content, practical tips to prepare for a career in law, biographies of trailblazers, and other useful information. We are also developing more advanced programs to maintain our connection with the students and our potential impact on the pipeline, and expect to conduct future programs on résumé drafting, interviewing and pre-law curriculums.
The Diversity Committee is honored and proud to have received the following awards and recognition on behalf of Phillips Lytle LLP:
- IILP Review 2012: The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession
- 2012 International INNOVATION in Diversity Award
- 2012 AT&T Legal Diversity and Inclusion Award
- New York State Bar Association's 2011 President's Pro Bono Service Award for Mid-Size Law Firms
- New York State Bar Association's 2012 President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Eighth Judicial District
- National Federation for Just Communities 2012 Community Leader Award
Phillips Lytle is an equal opportunity employer and, in accordance with applicable laws, prohibits discrimination against applicants or employees based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital status, citizenship status, domestic violence victim status, military status, predisposing genetic characteristics or genetic information, or any other category protected by law.
This policy extends to all personnel actions, including recruiting, hiring, transfers, promotions, demotions, compensation and benefits administration, participation in firm-sponsored training, education and social programs, layoffs, recalls and terminations.