Covington is committed to further quickening the pace of progress, and in December 2019 we adopted our first written Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategic action plan. The action plan has three primary goals: to (1) incorporate D&I into firm leadership and practice group priorities; (2) strengthen and expand client relationships through D&I initiatives; and (3) develop, promote, and retain diverse attorneys at all levels.
Our D&I affinity groups (such as women’s, LGBTQ+, ethnic minority and veteran-focused groups) reflect and support the diverse population of our lawyers and professional staff. Our affinity group programming includes speaker series, focus groups and one-on-one conversations which create safe spaces to address difficult topics and promote our inclusive culture.
Within our London office we have recently established four diversity strands to focus, develop and promote diversity within specific fields. We asked members from across the Covington diversity strands about their journey to law and what it means to work somewhere that values and celebrates diversity.
Antonio Michaelides – Associate - Social Mobility Strand
I never really planned to practice law, or go to university for that matter. Before university, I played tennis professionally and, when I stopped playing aged 20 (largely due to injury, but for financial reasons too), I had to pivot. Having grown up in inner city London and having had a lot of friends from certain cultures in particular, it became clear that the "you either need to be a doctor, engineer or lawyer" mantra had rubbed off on me too. It was too late for the first two, given the subjects I had selected to do as A-Levels alongside competing in tennis tours, so I decided to pursue a career in law.
I was fortunate to secure a number of vacation schemes, and then training contract offers, during my degree and ultimately decided to accept an offer from a Magic Circle firm. It wasn’t until I was over two years’ qualified, and once I had been at two firms, that I found my "home" at Covington. Now, I really couldn’t imagine practicing anywhere else.
Working in a diverse workplace means everything to me. We still have a long way to go, but the developments over the last two years have been notable and I am pleased to be a part of it via my participation with the social mobility strand.
Roderick Dirkzwager – Associate - LGBTQ+ Strand
As an LGBT+ individual, knowing that Covington values and celebrates diversity is extremely important to me. "Downplaying" aspects of your personal life can be exhausting and it takes its toll on your mental health and motivation over time. My husband and I had our civil partnership ceremony earlier this year, and it was great to share the good news with all my colleagues without hesitation!
Eddy Eccles – Associate - Disability and Mental Health Strand
I decided to become a lawyer while still at university. The first decision I had to make was whether to pursue a career as a barrister or a solicitor. I'm deaf in one ear and require the use of a hearing aid in my other ear, so I had concerns about trying to become a barrister, because that career involves a lot of listening in old court rooms, which have terrible acoustics (though in retrospect, I now realise that I was far more worried than I needed to be). I originally trained as a solicitor in another firm in the City, and then worked in the Government for a while, before joining Covington about three years ago. The main reason I joined Covington is because I knew the litigation team from one of my previous jobs. I knew they would be great to work with - plus the quality of work Covington offers is amazing!
The value that Covington places on diversity means a huge amount to me, and completely alters the way I view my job. Covington wants its staff to be at the forefront of making those changes happen, so if you have a good idea, or just want to get involved in existing initiatives, it's really easy to do so. It is so empowering to know that I work at a place where the whole community is committed to challenging itself every day to find new ways to make everyone feel welcome.
Chris Bracebridge - Partner and London Diversity and Inclusion lead
I tried my hand at being a rock star for a few years after university. When worldwide fame didn't beckon, law came calling… I trained and worked at a Magic Circle firm for quite a few years and then moved into the US law firm sector as a mid-level associate. I came to Covington as part of a team move to help build an international employment law practice - which we've done successfully, with lots of help from many colleagues.
Diversity and inclusion is one of the most important aspects of work for me. Covington is based on values - collegiality, high standards of lawyering, respect for others, dedication to public service, and a commitment to fostering diversity. Being able to work in the diversity and inclusion space within the firm is tremendously fulfilling and validating; it's fantastic to see the firm becoming ever more diverse each year.
Azumah Cofie - Trainee Solicitor - Multicultural Network
My journey to law is a little unconventional. I obtained an Economics degree in the United States, and initially planned to pursue a career in the financial services sector. However, the summer following graduation, I opened up to my mother about my long-standing interest in law and insecurities I had from having a stammer. With her encouragement, I decided to overcome my fears and pursue the two-year Senior Status law programme at Queen Mary University of London. I then attended the 2018 Law Fair where I spoke to the Covington representatives and was immediately attracted to the firm. After that encounter, I applied for the firm’s 2019 Summer Vacation Scheme, and thankfully got a training contract offer, after an enjoyable two weeks at the firm.
A diverse workplace means a lot to me. From my experiences on the vacation scheme until now, I have been fortunate to work in an environment where I can always present my authentic self - as a black male with a stammer who prefers to go by his unique, African middle name as opposed to his English first name. With the firm’s accommodating culture, I am confident enough to portray this identity without fear or inferiority complex.
For more information on D&I at Covington, please go here.
Interested in starting a legal career with Covington? Find out more.