Commitment to Diversity
Diversity is a cornerstone of our culture at Hodgson Russ. We believe in providing every individual an equal opportunity to succeed based on merit and performance and without regard to race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability. To that end, Hodgson Russ has established and supports initiatives within the communities we serve and internally to promote diversity.
In the Community
Hodgson Russ supports involvement and leadership by our attorneys and staff in a broad range of community and professional organizations that contribute to diversity. Our attorneys and staff currently serve on more than 100 nonprofit boards, many of which serve women and minority interests, such as Buffalo Prep, Buffalo Urban League, Child and Family Services, Friends of Hispanic Arts, Girl Scouts of Western New York, National Conference for Community and Justice, United Way, and YWCA of Western New York.
Hodgson Russ has a significant number of minority partners in leadership positions at the firm and in the community at the local, regional, and national levels. Among other community leadership roles, for example, a Hodgson Russ partner is the immediate past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY), and minority attorneys have held MBAWNY board positions in recent years. Another minority attorney is a commissioner of the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority, chair of the Citizens Planning Council of the City of Buffalo, on the board of the Buffalo Urban League, and a trustee of Erie Community College. A minority woman partner is on the board of the University at Buffalo School of Management.
The National Law Journal recently ranked Hodgson Russ among the top 50 law firms in the United States for prevalence of women partners. Women attorneys are integrally involved with the leadership of Hodgson Russ, holding positions such as current practice area leader and former firm chair. Ours was the first AMLaw 250 firm to be managed by a woman. Women are influential committee members on our firm’s board and committees for strategic planning, finance, attorney compensation, recruiting, and evaluation. In addition, women hold the majority of administrative director and manager positions in the firm.
Some recent initiatives and accomplishments that involve the advancement of women include the following.
- Hodgson Russ sponsors the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) and its annual General Counsel Institute.
- A Buffalo-based partner was named Woman of the Year by Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) and was a featured speaker at a recent OWIT conference.
- A Buffalo-based associate was appointed to Erie County Commission on the Status of Women Advisory Board.
In late 2014, a Buffalo-based partner received the Edwin F. Jaeckle Award from SUNY Buffalo Law School in recognition of her significant contributions to the school and the legal profession. This is the highest honor the school bestows.
Hodgson Russ presented its first Diversity Scholarship in 2012 to a college-bound senior with an interest in the law at Buffalo Prep, an academic enrichment program for minority young adults. We are proud to support the academic success of diverse young adults and to help build the pipeline for future legal talent.
We continue our long-standing relationship with SUNY Buffalo Law School by participating in its Law Scholars Program, which provides a four-week immersive experience for underrepresented minority students or first-generation college students who are interested in pursuing a career in the law. Several of our lawyers served as mentors to the students in the program, and one of our partners coordinated the selection and assignment of mentors. We also host a reception at our Guaranty Building, introducing these students to our attorneys and summer associates—additional mentors and models as they consider a legal education and career.
Hodgson Russ's diversity efforts are championed and administered on a day-to-day basis by our Committee for Attorney Recruitment, Development & Diversity (CARDD). The current chair of CARDD is Jodyann Galvin. Joseph Brown is the firm's diversity partner.
CARDD developed and oversees a comprehensive strategic plan for diversity initiatives. The plan includes the following.
- Recruitment: Hodgson Russ actively works to attract diverse candidates, and to identify and address the specific challenges to recruitment of a diverse workforce.
- Retention: Recognizing that our ability to retain diverse personnel is key to long-term success, we endeavor to identify and develop plans to overcome specific obstacles to retaining a diverse workforce.
- Benefits and policies: CARDD and the Human Resources Department advise the firm’s board of directors on benefit changes that reflect the needs of our diverse population and help to advance our diversity goals.
- Education and recognition: Hodgson Russ expects all attorneys and staff to actively support the firm’s diversity commitment. CARDD and the Human Resources Department evaluate, recommend, and sponsor educational opportunities for attorneys and staff to foster an inclusive culture, and to encourage individual contributions to diversity. Performance reviews include a component that evaluates attorneys’ efforts to create and support a diverse and inclusive environment.