Minneapolis (5-25-06): -- The Diversity Committee of the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) has recognized the law firm of Faegre & Benson LLP with its 2006 Diversity Award. The Diversity Award is given annually to a legal employer who displays an outstanding commitment to diversity in the legal profession. In addition, a Special & Continuing Achievement Award has been awarded to Halleland, Lewis, Nilan & Johnson PA for the firm’s ongoing dedication to diversity.
Faegre & Benson aims to be a market leader in the representation of women and minority partners and associates. To ensure strong and consistent leadership from the highest level, the firm has designated one of its managing partners as its “Diversity Partner.” The Diversity Partner and two Diversity Coordinators ensure follow through and support for the numerous ongoing initiatives that the fifteen-member Diversity Committee establishes. Their aggressive focus on hiring and diversity initiatives has lead to a steady increase of women and minorities over the past five years.
Faegre & Benson has had a formal diversity plan in place since early 2004. The plan, which is published on the firm’s Web site, includes specific diversity goals, identifies committees and personnel principally responsible for achieving those goals, and serves as a resource for anyone in the firm who has a diversity question or concern. More recently, Faegre & Benson has retained an outside diversity consultant who is conducting a firm-wide assessment. The firm will refine and revise its diversity plan with this consultant’s help.
In addition to formal diversity training for all U.S. personnel, the firm regularly hosts internal diversity-focused events, often featuring leaders from among their own clients and minority communities. Faegre & Benson also often sponsors minority bar events such as the Minnesota Black Women Lawyers’ annual Lena O. Smith Luncheon, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Associate Annual Fundraiser, and the Human Rights Campaign Annual Dinner.
Faegre & Benson also regularly sponsors and participates in minority job fairs across the country, student outreach, and on-campus meetings with minority groups at law schools in Minnesota, Colorado, and Iowa. Later this year the firm plans to announce a diversity scholarship initiative.
In both 2004 and 2005 Faegre & Benson was among a small number of employers nationwide to receive a 100% ranking from the Human Rights Campaign, recognizing them as an employer of choice for GLBT lawyers and staff.
Because the HCBA Diversity Committee was so impressed with the nomination for the law firm of Halleland, Lewis, Nilan & Johnson PA, they have conferred a Special & Continuing Achievement Award to recognize the firm’s notable dedication to diversity. In 2005 their Board of Directors appointed a Diversity Committee and adopted a Statement of Policy on Diversity.
Diversity is one of Halleland’s six core values, which are the fundamental shared motivations of the firm. The core values are outlined as “key objectives” in their strategic plan to help them realize their future vision and are guideposts for the firm’s long-term development. The firm received the HCBA’s 2004 Diversity Award for their commitment to building a tolerant and diverse workplace.
In addition to many internal events, including a monthly speaker program and an annual Diversity Day, Halleland also supports many minority organizations through direct involvement and/or pro bono work. The majority of attorneys at Halleland Lewis are now women (51%).
Recognizing that their clients value diversity too, the firm makes every effort to field talented, diverse legal teams to help their clients meet their diversity and legal objectives.
The mission of the HCBA is to “serve the needs of its membership by advancing professionalism, ethical conduct, diversity, competence, practice development, and collegiality in the legal profession. The association shall strive to ensure the fairness and accessibility of the legal system, promote public understanding and confidence in our system of justice, work with the courts to improve the administration of justice. The largest of Minnesota's 21 county bar associations, the HCBA serves a membership of 8,000 legal professionals.