Raft of Chicago IP firms add DEI efforts to billable hours

Quintet made up of Leydig Voit & Mayer, Loeb & Loeb, Marshall Gerstein & Borun, McAndrews Held & Malloy and McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff


Five leading intellectual property law firms in Chicago will begin allowing attorneys and other legal professionals to count their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts toward their billable hours. 

Leydig Voit & Mayer, Loeb & Loeb, Marshall Gerstein & Borun, McAndrews Held & Malloy and McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff will begin implementing a policy that includes crediting the efforts of their lawyers, patent agents, technical specialists and other IP professionals on DEI programmes towards at least 25 billable hours per year, the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) announced on Friday. 

The new policy, which will cover varying DEI activities depending on the firm, mostly includes organising DEI events within the firm or external legal organisations, recruitment activities, mentoring or sponsoring underrepresented professionals, preparing and participating in client-related DEI activities and any other DEI activity that can be approved on a case-by-case basis. 

IPLAC said it believes implementation of the policy will result in an increase in DEI activities within the Chicago IP community, adding that it encourages other Chicago area law firms to adopt the policy. 

‘Supporting our attorneys who foster DEI efforts helps build social coherence and well-being across the Chicago IP community,’ it said in a statement. 

Lynn Janulis, partner and chair of Marshall Gerstein’s diversity committee, said the firm is “proud to join IPLAC in this effort because there is still so much work to be done in the legal industry” related to DEI. 

"This new policy enables us to recognise those who work hard to advance our DEI efforts while further promoting our desire to have our people help advance change in our professional practice,” she added. 

A number of other US firms have ramped up their DEI strategies lately by introducing the idea of billable hour policies for diversity work, including Reed Smith, WilmerHale, Hogan Lovells, Cooley and K&L Gates. 

In other US DEI news, Chicago-based Sidley Austin was included in the first group of big law firms and corporates to sign up to Diversity Lab’s new OnRamp fellowship programme, which aims to help bring 200 women lawyers back into the legal profession by 2025 in a bid to reverse the number of women who have left the workforce in the last few years. 

And in September, Latham & Watkins, McDermott Will & Emery, Baker McKenzie, DLA Piper, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom were among the 118 firms to complete Diversity Lab's Mansfield certification, a programme designed to grow the racial and ethnic diversity of their management committees so that at least 30% of candidates are from underrepresented groups.


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