Akin Gump was founded in 1945, after other law firms excluded our founders on the basis of religion. Bob Strauss never forgot how that felt, and he made diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) a bedrock of the new firm. From that day forward, the firm’s commitment has evolved and strengthened. Today, led by Kim Koopersmith, one of the few women to chair a major global law firm, we continue to expand our efforts to provide diverse perspectives for our clients and vibrant career opportunities for all our lawyers and professionals.
Nicholas Pascal, finance counsel at Akin Gump and London DEI Council member and BAME resource group representative
Continuing our founders' tradition, Kim Koopersmith constantly raises the bar within our firm and the legal industry. She and the firm’s Chief DEI Officer, Nimesh Patel, work closely with the firm’s management committee, practice group leaders and office partners-in-charge to ensure that DEI informs our approach to recruiting, retention, professional development, promotion and compensation. Akin Gump strives to ensure that all of our professionals find a supportive and welcoming culture, challenging work, and tangible resources to help them succeed.
We believe that the contributions of lawyers with diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences enhance both the firm’s culture as well as the services we provide to our clients. As such, the retention and promotion of lawyers at Akin Gump is a critical component of our efforts to maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace.
The firm recognises that one of its best tools in this effort is a diverse partnership, which sends an unequivocal signal to associates and counsel that they can advance professionally at Akin Gump. In addition, our comprehensive professional development programmes play a key role in supporting the growth and retention of all of our lawyers by providing mentoring, formal training, maintaining an objective and measurable set of criteria by which associates and counsel are evaluated and encouraging supervising lawyers to provide meaningful feedback. Work assignments are overseen by assignment partners and non-lawyer practice managers; and a thoughtful work assignment process gives associates wide exposure to partners in key client work.
In 2020, the firm restructured its long-standing firmwide DEI council to include some of the most senior partners of the firm, including members of the management committee, practice group leaders, office partners in charge, and leaders of our firmwide resource groups (FRGs) and local DEI councils to drive leadership engagement and accountability.
Our DEI councils at both the office and firmwide levels provide us with the infrastructure to support all firmwide DEI efforts. They give lawyers and personnel the opportunity to proactively ask questions and present concerns and ideas to firm management. Over the past ten years, participants have built a strong sense of community while identifying areas and avenues for improvement.
To ensure the firm’s DEI initiatives continue to thrive and expand, committee members develop and participate in diversity-related outreach to clients, lateral candidates, students and the not-for-profit community. We continue to look for opportunities to strengthen our outreach. Lawyers from the London office currently volunteer as mentors with CityYear, the Social Mobility Foundation and Aspiring Solicitors. Akin Gump is a primary sponsor of the AS Foundation, and our lawyers participate in careers talks with Inspiring the Future.
Akin Gump recruits exceptional and diverse talent at all levels. Our summer and year-round programmes provide law students and aspiring lawyers with immersive work experiences, mentorship and networking to build a foundation for the future. We also engage with law school student affinity groups, participate in diversity career fairs and collaborate with strategic partners externally for lateral opportunities. Supporting pipeline programmes does more than enhance our talent pool—it helps enhance diversity across the legal profession.
The Akin Gump Robert/Strauss DEI Scholarship Program, along with the firmwide resource groups for women, working parents and caregivers, first generation lawyers, veterans, people with disabilities and those who identify as racially/ethnically diverse and/or LGBTQ+, and our community partnerships, all point to the fact that we are consistently working to extend the firm’s message of inclusiveness both internally and externally.
We are proud of the positive results that our efforts have brought to date, and our successes only reinforce our belief that we are on the right track as we continue to build upon this strong foundation.
The awards and accolades that the firm has received are a testament to all that we have accomplished in the area of diversity, equity & inclusion, and, as you will see through the stories in our lawyer profiles, we could not have achieved all that we have without the contributions and talents of our lawyers. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is steadfast.
Awards & Accolades
2021: Working Mother 50 Best Law Firms for Women, which recognises law firms that are most successful in their efforts and results in retaining and promoting women lawyers.
2021: Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF). Law firms are awarded the Gold Standard Certification if they successfully demonstrate that women represent a meaningful percentage of their equity partners, their highest leadership positions, their governance and compensation committees, their most highly compensated partners, and if there is meaningful diversity among their women partners.
2021: Women in Law Empowerment Forum’s Gold Standard Certification (WILEF): awarded to organisations that meet objective criteria concerning the number of women among equity partners, in firm leadership positions and in the ranks of their most highly compensated partners.
2021: Diversity and Flexibility Alliance’s “Tipping the Scales”: recognition for having 50% or more women for 2021’s U.S.-based new partner class.
2021: Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Top Performer Award: recognizes organisations in the top 20 percent for participation in LCLD programmes and activities.
2021: LCLD Compass Award: recognises organisations that fulfill a list of core requirements in a single calendar year, including participating in the LCLD Fellows, Pathfinders and Pipeline programmes.
Fourteen years with a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index benchmark of LGBTQ+ employee policies and practices.
Akin Gump is a five-time recipient of the Thomas L. Sager Award, an annual award from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) which recognised the firm’s “demonstrated sustained commitment to improve the hiring, retention and promotion of minority attorneys.”
Kim Koopersmith received the 2018 Flex Leader Award from the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. The award recognises an executive “who is moving his or her organisation toward a more inclusive workplace through holistic flexibility.” She was also recognised by Law360 as one of America’s Most Innovative Managing Partners for her commitment to diversity.