Sutherland’s dedication to diversity is more than just words and numbers. It is an initiative that drives change within our firm—active change in our recruiting efforts, work-life policies and professional service. We understand the significant role a diverse community plays in our growth, development and service to clients.
The Sutherland Difference
Sutherland's emphasis on diversity is reflected in numerous ways throughout the firm, such as the manner in which we recruit lawyers and other employees, our work-life policies and our professional service efforts. We have been recognized for our achievements in diversity. More importantly, we understand the significant role a diverse community plays in the firm's growth and development.
Sutherland is committed to promoting diversity within the firm and in the legal profession. We believe that diverse skills, knowledge and viewpoints make us a stronger, more productive law firm. We hire and promote qualified lawyers and other professionals regardless of age, race, color, religion, gender, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, domestic violence victim status, national origin, ancestry, disability, genetic information, military or veteran status, or any other protected factor.
Sutherland’s diversity efforts are led by a 34-member, cross-office Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Our committee has helped coordinate and lead a number of efforts to advance diversity within our firm and the community. Affinity groups at Sutherland serve as support networks for attorneys of color; women lawyers; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender attorneys.
We recruit diverse attorneys by participating in on-campus interviews at schools with significant numbers of students from underrepresented backgrounds and at various job fairs including the Southeastern Minority Job Fair and the Vault MCCA Legal Diversity Career Fair. We also recruit at the National LGBT Bar Association's Lavender Law Conference. We participate in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity 1L Program and various 1L programs sponsored by clients where we take on first-year law students of color as a regular participant in our summer associate program. In addition, our Sutherland Scholars program has afforded us an opportunity to meet students of color heading to law school and to remain in contact with them during their law school careers.
Awards and Recognition
In 2013, Sutherland received a Programming Excellence Award for its innovative diversity programs from The Coca-Cola Company. The firm was also a finalist for Nationwide’s ACP Diversity Award and received recognition from Morgan Stanley for its diversity efforts.
For the sixth consecutive year, Sutherland was named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” by the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Sutherland once again earned a perfect 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. The survey rates businesses on a scale from zero to 100% on their treatment of LGBT employees, consumers and investors.
Sutherland was also ranked a Top 25 Firm for Diversity for Minorities by Vault and MultiCultural Law magazine named us a Top 25 Firm for African Americans, a Top 100 Firm for Women and a Top 100 Firm for Diversity.
For the third year in a row, Sutherland was given the “Gold Standard” recognition by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF). WILEF is the premier forum for women in law firms with more than 200 lawyers practicing in the United States.
Established in 2005, Sutherland Scholars is an intensive, three-week, 40 hour program for rising college seniors and graduates headed to law school. It is designed to introduce students to the rigors of such a course of study, what to expect, how to navigate admission, the first year and getting a job. The program, which is competitive and recruits primarily from historically black colleges, engages a professor to teach a mini-course (with exam) and provides the scholars with a chance to hear from and visit with a variety of judges and lawyers. In anticipation of our tenth anniversary, the program was enhanced in 2013 by the inclusion of a modest stipend upon successful completion of the program, a tightening of the curriculum and an additional writing component. The Sutherland Scholars program is the first program of its kind and has served as a model and inspiration for other programs throughout the country.
Sutherland Junior College (SJC) is a college preparatory program the firm developed in 2006 to mentor students at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington DC. SJC is Sutherland’s way of participating in the DC Schools Partnership initiative of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. With more than 600 students from approximately 30 countries around the world, Bell students face a number of challenges: the vast majority live below the poverty line, most are not native English speakers and many have arrived in the United States within the last few years. Through SJC, Sutherland seeks to help the students apply to and be admitted to four-year colleges or universities.