Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. managing partner Jeff Cody said that having four women on the management committee helps in recruiting new talent and obtaining new business.
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Norton norton rose fulbright articles 2022 Rose Fulbright finds sponsorship key in diversifying ranks
Four of the nine members of Norton Rose Fulbright’s management committee are women – one is Black, one is Asian American and one is Hispanic.
Clark said that it is important to know the difference between mentoring someone and sponsoring them.
Sixteen women partners sit in significant leadership positions, ranging from practice group leaders and hiring partnership committee members to heads of the firm’s offices across the country.
“It is my impression that Norton Rose Fulbright has had greater success in both recruiting and retaining diverse talent than many other law firms,” said Phillips 66 General Counsel Paula Johnson. “I’m a firm believer that success breeds success. There is no greater tool in recruiting diverse talent than having diverse recruiting teams.”
Clark, who took over as chair of the global law firm Friday and became the highest ranking African American woman to lead a top 50 international corporate law firm, said that her success as a lawyer is the direct result of sponsorship at Norton Rose Fulbright.
The leader said his schedule was tight and he didn’t have the time. Clark pushed back, refusing to take “no” as the answer.
But leaders at Norton Rose Fulbright, which has its second- and third-largest U.S. offices in Houston and Dallas, respectively, said their older, more experienced partners’ professional sponsorship of younger women attorneys and lawyers of color is already witnessing significant successes.
“Diverse teams create superior results, and there is no substitute for the differences in perspective that diverse teams bring to a problem,” she said .
Despite the progress, the Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers readily admit there remains much need for improvement.
Nineteen of the 27 lawyers who joined Norton Rose Fulbright in Texas straight out of law school in 2020 were women or lawyers of color.
“It is so much easier to help people who are like you,” she said. “A mentor is there to coach you in life decisions. It is a comfort relationship. A sponsor is totally different. You may have nothing in common with your sponsor. A sponsor goes out of the way to help you. A sponsor, instead of taking credit for business, gives the credit to you.”
“A lot of the ceilings have been broken. Yet there is still not parity,” Shishima said. “To be clear, we still don’t have enough women partners. The goal is parity, and we – the firm and the profession – are not there yet.”
Norton Rose Fulbright intellectual property law partner Gina Shishima, who sits on the firm’s management committee with Clark, calls sponsorship “the game changer” for addressing diversity.
Most large commercial law firms average between 25 percent and 40 percent of their lawyers being women and between 10 percent and 20 percent being lawyers of color, according to the American Bar Association.
A few days later, the managing partner and Travis Torrence, a fourth-year associate at the time, met for breakfast.
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“Diversity matters to law students,” he said. “It matters to clients and it matters to us.”
“My first year, I suffered from isolation from being the only one,” she said. “I thought I needed a mentor who looked like me – a Black woman. I was wrong.”
Corporate law firms across Texas have struggled for decades to increase the glaringly low number of women and ethnic minorities in their ranks. Most law firms, including Norton Rose Fulbright, readily admit that their prior efforts achieved minimal success.
Martinez said that having four women on the management committee “paints a hopeful picture for women and ethnic minorities” about their potential future as lawyers and leaders.
“It says we are moving in the right direction,” she said. “Others can look at the women on the management committee and see that being a woman and a minority doesn’t prevent you from leadership.”
More than half of the summer associates at the law firm in 2020 were women or ethnic minorities.
“He made me go to black-tie events where I was the only black woman there and the youngest person there by 40 years,” Clark said. “He saw something in me. When I disappointed him, he let me know. I did not realize he was sponsoring me at the time, but now I know that I had the best sponsor. He was my secret sauce.”
On : Norton Rose makes historic choice to lead supervisory committee
Shishima, whose parents were born in a Japanese internment camp in California, was the first woman to join Norton’s Rose Fulbright’s IP practice in Austin. She has a Ph.D. in molecular biology. Her sponsor was Austin partner David Parker, also a white male.
“Women and minorities sometimes have the burden of their gender and race on our shoulders,” said Norton Rose Fulbright litigation partner Stacey Martinez, who serves on the firm’s management committee and is also its chief operating officer.
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In fact, no international corporate law firm has achieved as much diversity in its leadership ranks as Norton Rose Fulbright.
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Norton Rose Fulbright, which has more than 3,200 lawyers in 52 offices worldwide, reports that 33 percent of its 212 Houston lawyers are women and about 15 percent are ethnic minorities.
“That was a critical point in my career, and Shauna arranging that meeting was sponsorship in action,” said Torrence, what disease does gypsy rose have