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Lawyer Profile: LaShel Shaw

By News

submitted by Isa Buoscio, UCLI Intern

LaShel Shaw is the Secretary for the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion. Besides working in the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office as a civil litigator, LaShel belongs to multiple legal groups supporting diversity and inclusion within the state of Utah. To LaShel, diversity and law should go hand in hand.

Being in the 23% of women lawyers in the state of Utah is no small feat, yet it is one that LaShel may have been preparing for all her life. LaShel grew up in a working-class family. Her mom worked while putting herself through nursing school and raising kids. LaShel learned the importance of education from her mother, who taught her to read at three years old. Being homeschooled by her mom and working at her own pace led to LaShel graduating high school when she was 12 years old. Most colleges don’t have workable programs for 12-year-old first-years, so LaShel attended Eastern Oregon University online, completing an undergraduate program at age 16.

After her undergraduate degree, LaShel didn’t know she wanted to be a lawyer. “I didn’t know any lawyers growing up, I just liked to read and write; I wanted to read and write for my career,” she reflected. After receiving a master’s degree in history from Utah State University, LaShel applied to and attended Notre Dame Law School.

Deciding to practice law in Utah as a woman was an intimidating experience for LaShel. When initially researching if she wanted to work in Utah, the Women Lawyers of Utah’s report of the wage gap concerned her. According to the 2020 Civil Rights and the Gender Wage Gap Report from the Utah Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Utah has one of the country’s worst gender pay gaps at 70 cents per dollar.

To LaShel, the community of attorneys and judges in Utah is what makes practicing here worthwhile. When obstacles arise, LaShel feels she has a fantastic support network of people who understand, people who know what it’s like to experience professional challenges. “My female attorney friends get me through it,” she said. Between women lawyers in Utah, there’s a large sense of comradery. LaShel knows her coworkers are people she can lean on, turn to for advice, or reach out to for solidarity.

“For anyone feeling anxious about pursuing law, having a community is the most important thing,” she advised. LaShel believes anyone can succeed as long as they like the work and care about the profession. “No one is born knowing how to go to law school,” LaShel stated. “Law can be a great career; don’t let people scare you off.” LaShel recommends that any student thinking of pursuing law should take advantage of opportunities to get to know practicing attorneys and justices. She also mentioned that UCLI is a fantastic tool to help pair students with mentors who can support them.

“With the challenges I’ve faced as a white, cisgender woman, I can’t imagine what other groups experience. There is a genuine need for diversity in Utah, and I welcome anyone considering a career in law.”

Thank you, LaShel, for the work you do for UCLI and for Utah’s underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized communities. Your contributions to the aims of diversity, equity, and inclusion are sincerely appreciated.

Pictured: LaShel Shaw, Deputy District Attorney, Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office

UCLI Rolls Out New LSAT Diversity & Inclusion Scholarships

By News

by Ling Ritter, UCLI Associate Director

This year marked the launch of UCLI’s first-ever LSAT Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship, made possible by the generous support of the Utah Bar Foundation.

The scholarship is aimed at expanding opportunity for aspiring attorneys committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The grant provides financial assistance for costs associated with the LSAT exam. Accordingly, scholarship recipients must demonstrate financial need as well as a strong history of serving Utah’s underrepresented communities and a passion for bringing about an equitable and inclusive future for Utah’s legal profession and institutions.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Amanda Moody and Shayma Salih.

Amanda Moody is a senior at the University of Utah double majoring in Political Science and International Studies with an emphasis in Human Rights. She became interested in pursuing an education in law due to her passion for civic engagement, social justice, and interest in the U.S. legal structure. Through her coursework at the U, law-related internships, and personal experiences, Amanda’s passion for diversity and equity in the justice system has grown. She believes in an equal voice for all, particularly for those with diverse views and backgrounds and she plans to play an active role in increasing this representation. Amanda noted that UCLI’s scholarship will enable her to make her educational and career aspirations a reality.

“This scholarship represents the important work that organizations such as UCLI are doing to increase diversity and inclusivity in Utah’s legal profession. This scholarship provides me with the tools to be a part of this valuable work.” — Amanda Moody

Shayma Salih recently graduated from the University of Utah, with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate, she served as Director of Diversity in student government, Director of Service with the Asian American Student Association and Vice President of the Women of Tomorrow. She also interned at the Utah Attorney General’s Office as a Victim Services Advocate, where she supported and assisted minority women, refugees and other victims of crimes. She currently works with a non-profit, the Utah Muslim Civic League, as the Civic Engagement Director, where she works to engage, empower and serve her community.

We congratulate these amazing recipients and wish them all the best in their pursuit of legal education!

Pictured: UCLI LSAT Scholarship winners Amanda Moody (left), University of Utah Senior; and Shayma Salih (right), Civic Engagement Fellow at the Utah Muslim Civic League.

For more information about UCLI scholarships and financial support resources, visit utahcli.org/ucli-education-program.

Talk of the Town

By News

2019 DEI in Utah Law:

  • Elizabeth Kronk Warner became the first female and first Native American Dean of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney Law School.
  • BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School welcomed its first Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Barbara Melendez.
  • Dorsey & Whitney increased its paid parental leave to 15 weeks (with additional time permitted for lawyers who give birth).
  • Utah’s Federal Court welcomed new Magistrate Judge Cecilia Romero, formerly a partner at Holland & Hart.
  • This fall, UCLI’s Executive Director provided training on D&I issues to the Utah State Court judges, the Utah Attorney General’s Office, and a department within Salt Lake County.
  • Eli McCann became the first open LGBTQIA+ shareholder at Kirton McConkie.
  • Tiffany Shimada, an IP lawyer, became the first African-American female income partner in a national or international firm in Utah.
  • Dorsey & Whitney’s new Diversity Hours Policy allows 50 hours annually of diversity-related work, activities, and training to count toward billable hours requirements.
  • This fall, Stoel Rives, one of the 5 national investors in the Move The Needle (MTN) Fund, kicked off the MTN “On Track” program to promote more diverse attorneys into the equity partnership tier.
  • Diverse captains of the UCLI-supported state championship West High Mock Trial Team, Tejitha Agarwal and Gideon Gomm, were admitted to Yale University & the Parsons School of Design, respectively.
  • Parr Brown and the Utah Attorney General’s Office became the first firm & organization, respectively, to become UCLI Certified.
  • This summer, UCLI hired its first permanent Executive Director, Aida Neimarlija, Esq., an Assistant Director, Ling Ritter, and four interns, Jon Olsen, Joseph Rivera, Liliane Kwizera, & Paola Robles.

Attorney Profile: Kim Cordova

By News

submitted by Marshall Thompson, UCLI Communications Director

Kim Cordova, the Executive Director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ), is responsible for coordinating and implementing criminal justice policy in Utah—a monumental task that requires her to work with all three branches of the government, shape legislation, and craft innovative policy initiatives. She draws on her unique life experiences as well as her expertise in criminal law to make Utah a safer and more equitable place to live and work.

But, Cordova almost didn’t become a criminal lawyer. When she was younger, she did not know any lawyers or professionals. As a result, she didn’t initially consider a career in the legal field.

“My mom is an immigrant and all of her family is still in Korea,” Cordova said. “And on my Dad’s side, there were unhealthy, dysfunctional family patterns . . . I knew that was not what I wanted.”

Even early on in elementary school, Cordova recognized that education would be the key to achieving what she wanted. Her mother left for work every morning at 4:30 a.m. after making meals for the children. Cordova was responsible for getting herself up, getting ready for the day, doing her homework, and walking to and from school. Her precocious independence and hard work was not lost on her teachers.

“My elementary school teachers took an interest in me, and I did well in school,” she said. “I can name them all— that’s how important and influential they were. They reinforced that I could do anything.”

After graduating from high school, Cordova was one of the few in her graduating class who went on to college. She attended Westminster College with an eye toward medical school, but her true love was the humanities. She found a middle ground in psychology.

Pictured: Kim Cordova, Executive Director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ)

“My elementary school teachers took an interest in me, and I did well in school,” she said. “I can name them all —that’s how important and influential they were. They reinforced that I could do anything.” — Kim Cordova

After graduating, Cordova worked as a counselor in youth corrections and then transferred to youth probation. Her plan was to get experience in counseling and then pursue a graduate degree in psychology. In youth probation, she worked closely with Judge Andrew Valdez, a juvenile court judge. Judge Valdez had been a criminal defense attorney and was one of the first Latinx persons appointed to the Utah bench.

“He called me into his chambers one day and said, ‘What are you doing?’” Cordova remembers. He told her that she needed to take the LSAT and go to law school. “He told me I could be a great lawyer,” she said.

“He [Judge Andrew Valdez] told me I could be a great lawyer.” — Kim Cordova

That slight nudge was all that Cordova needed, and she was soon enrolled in the University of Utah law school. During law school, she found that she was drawn toward the subjects that most affected vulnerable people in tough situations.

“Contracts, property, torts. None of that stuff remotely interested me,” Cordova said. “Parental rights, death penalty, fifth amendment, Miranda, constitutional law— that was interesting. She also made friends for life.

“I think there were approximately 120 in my class. There were only about six of us that were students of color. Somehow, we all found each other that first week. I still know how they all are . . . They were really my source of support the first year. We did everything together.”

After graduating, Cordova built on the friendships she made in law school to form a strong, professional support group.

“Those relationships that began in law school, we continued to be connected and support each other over the past two decades,” Cordova said. “Whenever we’ve met any other women and women of color who we could connect with professionally, we have taken them in and brought them along with us. So our support group consistently grows.”

Cordova went on to intern at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and to clerk for Judge Judith Atherton, who is currently the chair of CCJJ. After clerking, Cordova went to work as a prosecutor in Salt Lake County. In 2009, Cordova had been with Salt Lake County for almost 10 years, she was looking for new growth and new experiences.

She knew Ed Brass, an experienced defense attorney, from her work as a prosecutor. Brass asked her if she wanted to work with him.

“Again, there was another person, another mentor, who saw something special about me who influenced another career path,” Cordova said. “I learned a ton. I was able to practice across the state in justice, district, and federal court.”

Walking into courts where she was unknown in different parts of Utah was an eye opening experience, Cordova said. “I was consistently referred to as the interpreter. For everyone who didn’t know me, the first question was, ‘Are you the interpreter?’”

“I was consistently referred to as the interpreter. For everyone who didn’t know me, the first question was, ‘Are you the interpreter?’” — Kim Cordova

Once court personnel and other lawyers got to know Cordova, however, things were different. “After we were able to show our level of ability and professionalism, I was greeted much better.”

Brass said that working with Cordova improved his practice of the law. “Through the force of her personality, she compelled me to be the best lawyer I could be every day,” he said. “Her commitment to people who would otherwise be forgotten or neglected burns in her.”

“[Cordova] compelled me to be the best lawyer I could be every day. Her commitment to people who would otherwise be forgotten or neglected burns in her.” — Ed Brass, Criminal Defense Attorney

After practicing with Brass for many years, another mentor, Ron Gordon, general counsel to Governor Herbert, nudged Cordova to a different path. After getting to know Cordova during her service on the Third District Judicial Nominating Commission, which Gordon staffed for the Governor, he tapped her to take his recently vacated position as Executive Director of CCJJ.

“She took her statutory charge to nominate the five most qualified candidates seriously and approached that charge with an incredible perspective that included both the importance of the Judiciary as a whole and the importance of justice in individual cases.” Gordon said.

He continued, “I always appreciated listening to her talk about the candidates because of her ability to analyze the big picture without ever losing sight of the work that goes on in individual courtrooms every day and the impact that has on the people appearing in those courtrooms. She brings that same perspective to everything she does which makes her an excellent leader and an incredible asset to the State.”

“[Cordova is] an excellent leader and an incredible asset to the State.” — Ron Gordon, General Counsel to Governor Herbert

Brass is equally pleased to see how well Cordova is now serving the State of Utah in her new position. “She now raises the level of the system as a whole the way she once raised our law practice,” he said.

Cordova believes that you have to pay attention to mentors who offer timely opportunities and build on connections to help improve diversity and inclusion in Utah’s legal profession.

“We have to have connections,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that as you move ahead as a person of color, as a woman, you have to open doors and bring people with you.”

“I’m a firm believer that as you move ahead as a person of color, as a woman, you have to open doors and bring people with you.” — Kim Cordova

Even though many challenges lie ahead, Cordova is optimistic about the future of diversity and inclusion in Utah. “When we’re talking about diversity on the bench, the way that women lawyers are organizing and supporting women, I think it’s had a tremendous effect” she said. “I also think the Governor has put people in positions who understand and appreciate the value of diversity.”

The important thing to Cordova is that groups like UCLI and others continue to drive the conversation forward about diversity and inclusion.

“These are things about ourselves and our society that we constantly have to be aware of, that we constantly have to keep talking about, and that we constantly have to keep moving forward on,” she said. “It is exciting, and hopefully we are just at the beginning.”

Community Outreach Committee Harnesses the Power in Proximity

By News

submitted by Kate Conyers, UCLI Proximity Task Force Chair, Development Committee Co-Chair, and Women Lawyers of Utah Representative

Earlier this year, on October 31, 2019, three members of UCLI’s “Get Proximate” Task Force met up at the new Volunteers of America Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center, just off of 700 South and State Street. As part of this service project, volunteer attorneys helped prepare sides for the lunchtime meal, served lunch to approximately 200 shelter residents, and cleaned up the kitchen and washed dishes.

Pictured: Kristen Olsen, UCLI Co-President and Proximity Taskforce Volunteer

One volunteer, Kristen Olsen from Dorsey, stated the following about the experience:

“It was very rewarding to volunteer at the women’s shelter on an otherwise hectic day at work. I loved connecting with the residents and seeing first-hand how the shelter operates. I learned a lot about the needs and circumstances of the residents, the shelter, and the homeless community at large.”

“I learned a lot about the needs and circumstances of the residents, the shelter, and the homeless community at large.” — Kristen Olsen, UCLI Co-President and Proximity Task Force Volunteer

The residents were very thankful for the volunteers’ time; many personally thanked each of the volunteers for their efforts. It was a great team building activity!

Pictured: Kate Conyers and Rohit Raghavan, UCLI Proximity Task Force Volunteers

The “Get Proximate” Taskforce has several initiatives whereby attorneys are offered valuable opportunities to serve and interact with homeless and other underserved and marginalized populations in Salt Lake County. The Taskforce has served meals at the Women’s Resource Center and the Homeless Youth Resource Center and will offer other opportunities in the future. The idea underlying the spirit of the Proximity Task Force is best summarized by the civil rights advocate, Bryan Stevenson:

To make a difference in creating a healthier community, a healthier society, and healthier nation and thus a healthier economy, we’ve got to find ways to get proximate to the poor and the vulnerable. I absolutely believe that when we isolate ourselves, when we allow ourselves to be shielded and disconnected from those who are vulnerable and disfavored we sustain and contribute to these problems. I am persuaded that in proximity there is something we can learn about how we change the world, how we change the environment, how we create healthier communities. I’m actually persuaded that there’s power in proximity. . . . I’m persuaded that we’ve got to find ways to get closer to the disfavored, the marginalized, the excluded, the poor, the disabled. Even if we don’t have any answers about what we’re going to do when we get there. The power is in proximity.” — Brian Stevenson, Civil Rights Advocate

For additional information about Stevenson’s views on proximity, see here.

UCLI Continuing Legal Education Seminar and Leaders’ Reception

By News

On October 4, 2019, UCLI held its big CLE kickoff event at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse. Over 200 leaders from the Utah legal community, including over 30 state and federal court judges, the Utah Bar President, and the Utah Attorney General, attended a fascinating three-hour Continuing Legal Education (CLE) presentation by nationally-recognized judicial trainer, Kimberly Papillon, on the topic of Neuroscience of DecisionMaking in Leadership: Meaningful Updates and Concrete Solutions. Ms. Papillon’s presentation addressed how and why our brains develop cognitive biases and how such biases can affect moral intuitions and ethical decisions with respect to our treatment of employees, colleagues, clients, defendants, witnesses, and others we encounter in the legal profession. Ms. Papillon also provided the attendees with strategies for combatting biases, becoming more inclusive, and ensuring that ethical approaches are applied in the workplace and other environments.

Read more about this event in UCLI’s newsletter, Mosaic.

UCLI Kicks Off its CLE Series and the 2020 Certification Program at the Federal Courthouse

By News

submitted by Jonathan Hafen, UCLI CLE Chair

On October 4, 2019, UCLI held its big CLE kickoff event and unveiled the UCLI Certification Program at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse. Over 200 leaders from the Utah legal community, including over 30 state and federal court judges, the Utah Bar President, and the Utah Attorney General, attended a fascinating three hour Continuing Legal Education (CLE) presentation by a nationally-recognized judicial trainer, Kimberly Papillon, on the topic of Neuroscience of Decision Making in Leadership: Meaningful Updates and Concrete Solutions.

Ms. Papillon’s presentation addressed how and why our brains develop cognitive biases and how such biases can affect moral intuitions and ethical decisions with respect to our treatment of employees, colleagues, clients, defendants, witnesses, and others we encounter in the legal profession. Ms. Papillon also provided the attendees with strategies for combatting biases, becoming more inclusive, and ensuring that ethical approaches are applied in the workplace and other environments.

Utah Rules of Professional Conduct recognize that elimination and interruption of bias in the legal profession is central to our ability to ethically apply the law and serve our community. Rule 8.4 specifically prohibits attorneys from engaging in “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” The comment to Rule 8.4 further explains that this includes attorneys who “knowingly manifest[] by words or conduct bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status….when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice.” See cmt. to Utah R. Prof. Conduct, Rule 8.4 (Dec. 19, 2018) (emphasis added).

Rule 2.3 of Canon 2 of the Utah Code of Judicial Conduct similarly provides that “[a] judge shall perform the duties of judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice…. [and that a] judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.” (emphasis added).

Ms. Papillon also focused on retention and advancement challenges that legal employers encounter with respect to women and diverse attorneys, and she discussed creative solutions to tackling the challenges and effecting change from the top down in our legal institutions. Judge Robert J. Shelby of the United States District Court for the District of Utah then addressed the attendees and spoke of the importance of engaging our diverse populations in the legal profession and eliminating bias in our administration of justice.

Following the presentation, the guests attended UCLI’s Leadership Reception where the Utah Supreme Court Justice Paige Petersen and Utah Bar President Herm Olsen gave remarks about UCLI’s mission and programs. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that his office would be the first to enroll in the UCLI 2020 Certification Program and expressed the commitment of the AG’s Office to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

UCLI thanks Anne Morgan, Judge Shelby, Judge Nuffer and the federal court staff for hosting this important event. UCLI also thanks our co-hosts the Federal Bar Association and the Women Lawyers of Utah, and our generous sponsors for making this event possible.

 

UCLI Executive Director’s Annual Message

By News

submitted by Aida Neimarlija, Esq. 

UCLI Executive Director

It is truly a privilege and honor to lead and support the mission of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) as its executive director. Thanks to the great passion and commitment of many amazing leaders from law firms, courts, law schools, governmental legal organizations, and the business community, Utah finally has a comprehensive, state-wide body that is dedicated to engaging our underrepresented populations in the legal profession.

As it stands, Utah’s legal community is quite homogeneous despite the relatively diverse Utah demographics. For example, the latest data from 2011 and 2016 show that, women constitute only 24% of the Utah bar. Also, while 22.8% of Utahns identified as ethnically and/or racially diverse, only 7% of Utah legal practitioners were minorities. The presence of other diverse demographics, especially in positions of leadership, is similarly scarce.

In my experience as a lawyer in this community, I know that our community wants to do better. Our colleagues across the ideological spectrum came together to form UCLI because they recognized that, not only does homogeneity diminish the public’s trust in the legal system, but our profession also suffers as we miss out on incredible talent, opportunities for a better work product, and the ability to fully respond to the needs of our community, employees and clients.

To effect change, we must be intentional and take action. UCLI is doing that, among other things, by:

(1) promoting legal education and providing mentoring and financial support to diverse groups across Utah, with the goal that, some day, many of them will join us as colleagues and as leaders in their own communities;

(2) working with legal employers as a resource to enhance their efforts to increase workplace diversity and inclusion and welcome and advance the diverse talent; and

(3) enhancing the administration of and access to justice for Utah’s underrepresented, underserved, and marginalized populations.

Our aspiration is that, together, we can build a beautiful mosaic wherein members of Utah’s diverse and underrepresented communities can be seen, heard, and valued in Utah’s legal system and institutions. I invite you to be intentional about creating and seizing opportunities where you can step up as a mentor, sponsor, and perhaps even be a champion for a diverse student or attorney. UCLI has many wonderful projects that allow each of us to make a difference.

On behalf of UCLI, thank you for your generosity of time, passion, and funding to help develop our programs and build the infrastructure necessary to bring about a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Utah. I am a strong believer that, as with many other important efforts, Utah can be a trailblazer in effectively engaging diverse voices in our legal profession, thanks to you.

Sincerely,

Aida Neimarlija, Esq.

UCLI Executive Director

UCLI Co-Sponsors the Hispanic National Bar Association Reception

By News

by Jon Olson and Joseph Rivera, UCLI’s Hinckley Institute Interns

On August 21, 2019, Holland & Hart hosted a UCLI cosponsored Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) reception. The reception was attended by prominent role models such as Ross Romero, the first Utah lawyer to ever serve as HNBA’s President; Elizabeth Kronk Warner, the new Dean of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney Law School; and retired Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham, whose remarks were passionate and inspirational.

HNBA’s mission is to advocate for Hispanic individuals who work within in the legal profession and to focus on issues related to the Hispanic community. From a numbers perspective, the Hispanic community is the most underrepresented racial minority in legal work. To address this reality, the programs of the HNBA provide professional, business, and leadership development to guide others to success. The HNBA also awards scholarships and financial support to Hispanic students to support them in pursuing an education in law.

HNBA has made such a difference in diversifying the legal profession, and UCLI is honored to have been a part of this important celebration!

Pictured (left to right): Ross Romero, Justice Christine Durham (Ret.), Magistrate Judge Cecilia Romero, Raj Dhaliwal, and Bryan Benard

Enjoy more photos from the HNBA/UCLI event on page 21 of our newsletter.

Legal Employer Spotlight: Dorsey & Whitney

By News

submitted by Aida Neimarlija, UCLI Executive Director

Diversity and inclusion are buzzwords in the legal industry as firms across the country work to enhance their ability to attract and retain diverse legal teams. While the conversation around these topics has increased, some firms continue to find it difficult to implement strategies to improve firm diversity. Some, however, are already ahead in their effort to move the needle and, as such, deserve a recognition.

We take this opportunity to highlight Dorsey & Whitney, one of the firms in our community that has taken specific actions in support of its commitment to being an inclusive organization that values diverse backgrounds, perspectives and contributions.

This summer, the firm announced a new Diversity Hours Policy for attorneys. Under the new policy, Dorsey will allow 50 hours each year of diversity-related work, activities and training to count toward billable hours requirements. Qualifying activities include attending internal and external diversity educational sessions, presenting on diversity and inclusion topics, serving on diversity and inclusion committees, and other diversityrelated activities.

“Dorsey is committed to creating an enduring, more united and more profitable firm by investing and maintaining a culture in which all individuals can thrive and realize their full potential,” said Bill Stoeri, Dorsey’s Managing Partner. “We are proud to demonstrate this commitment with separate diversity hours to help us achieve this goal.”

“Dorsey is committed to creating an enduring, more united and more profitable firm by investing and maintaining a culture in which all individuals can thrive and realize their full potential.” — Bill Stoeri, Managing Partner at Dorsey and Whitney

After rolling out its Diversity Hours Policy, the firm also undertook firm-wide implicit bias training this fall. The training aimed to help all Dorsey attorneys and staff understand what implicit bias is, how it affects people, and how it is identified. It also challenged attendees to question their initial assumptions about others and be aware how commonplace words and actions could be interpreted by others.

Recently, Dorsey also implemented a new, more generous Paid Parental Leave for lawyers. The leave is now 15 weeks (with additional time permitted for lawyers who give birth). Lawyers who take at least 12 continuous weeks of Paid Parental Leave will have their billable hours expectation reduced by 50% during the four weeks before and after that period of leave.

As a result of its efforts, Dorsey has received multiple recognitions for being an employer that is supportive of diversity and inclusion. Some of those recognitions include being named a Best Law Firm for Women by Working Mother magazine, a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality, and receiving Mansfield Rule Certification Plus and the Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum.

The firm says its efforts stem from its belief that an inclusive and diverse work environment makes Dorsey a better place to work, and that its clients benefits from increased efficiency, improved teamwork, and higher morale of the firm’s diverse client teams.

In addition to firm-wide internal efforts, Dorsey has been a supporter of local diversity efforts, including the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) since its founding. Several Dorsey attorneys have served on UCLI board and committees, and Dorsey has hosted numerous UCLI events. The firm is also active in supporting UCLI’s affinity groups, including the Women Lawyers of Utah, LGBT & Allied Lawyers of Utah, and the Utah Minority Bar Association, as well as other diversity groups outside of the legal industry such as the Women Tech Council and the Women’s Energy Network.

It’s important to me to work at a firm that aligns with my personal beliefs that everyone should be given an opportunity to succeed and to contribute to the legal profession,” said Kristen Olsen, an associate in Dorsey’s Salt Lake City office. “I’m pleased that Dorsey has supported my efforts to promote equity and inclusion initiatives, such as UCLI, in the broader legal profession.”

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