Winston & Strawn is committed to excellence in serving the public interest. We were one of the first large law firms in the country to adopt a written pro bono policy in 1991, to become a signatory to the Pro Bono Institute Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, to establish a well-funded charitable foundation, and to hire a full-time Director of Public Interest Law.
When the firm celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2003, we asked every lawyer and paralegal in the firm to sign a Pro Bono Pledge to devote at least 35 hours to pro bono work during the year. More than 70 percent of Winston's attorneys signed the pledge. As a result, the firm has increased its pro bono hours billed by at least 15 percent every year since 2002.
The firm's Pro Bono Policy, which was revised in 2004 to incorporate this pledge, includes an improved hour-credit provision and provides a detailed description of pro bono work. We have provided representation in matters involving community economic development, criminal defense, First Amendment/free speech, contested guardianship, landlord/tenant, not-for-profit corporate organization, political asylum, post-conviction relief in death penalty cases, and public assistance.
Two decades ago, we created a foundation in order to provide financial support to civic and charitable organizations. The Winston & Strawn Foundation supports qualified contributions amounting to more than $1 million annually in cash donations to civic and charitable organizations involved in health and social welfare, community, arts and culture, education, and legal advocacy activities.
Through the Winston & Strawn Foundation, the firm has also developed lasting relationships with many civic and nonprofit organizations in the communities where we have offices.
Since 2003 we have supported the Dodge Renaissance Academy, a Chicago public school. We support in-school and extracurricular activities and maintain an award-winning tutoring/mentoring program. The Washington, D.C. office sponsors the nonprofit organization Gifts for the Homeless on a variety of efforts, including a winter clothing drive and a summer "Battle of the Law Firm Bands" fundraising concert.
In San Francisco, we have volunteered with Peninsula Habitat for Humanity to help build homes in the community. The office also has been an event sponsor for the San Francisco AIDS Walk.
Every year in New York, the entire office participates in a holiday toy drive for the Salvation Army. During the holiday season, our Los Angeles office partners with Concept 7, a nonprofit foster care agency, by sponsoring more than 60 children. In addition, the Los Angeles office sponsors the Verbum Dei Corporate Work Study Program, which is part of the Cristo Rey Network, an organization that provides secondary education to youths.
Philanthropy is an important value to the firm. It puts us in touch with our community, clients, and co-workers, and we all benefit when we join together to do good work.
Diversity & Inclusion
Winston & Strawn is consistently regarded as one of the most diverse large law firms in the country. Our diversity efforts have won awards from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the New York Urban League, the Hispanic Bar Association of Washington, D.C., and our client Morgan Stanley. In its most recently published survey on diversity (July 2008), Chicago Lawyerreported that Winston & Strawn has the second-highest number of minority partners. MCCA'sDiversity & the Bar (January 2006) magazine reported that our Chicago office displays "extraordinary progress in women in legal leadership" and that the firm overall boasts a higher percentage of women attorneys than the National Association for Law Placement national average. The Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms has given the firm high diversity rankings. In 2008, the Burton Foundation, a legal writing organization, chose Diversity@Winston & Strawn as "Best Law Firm Newsletter." The firm also earned a 100 percent rating in the Human Rights Campaign's 2010 Corporate Equality Index survey, which rates Fortune 500 and other major firms for its treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered employees and people with whom they do business.
These successes are the result of extensive efforts by the firm. Winston & Strawn's diversity values are articulated in a Diversity Charter that outlines the firm's commitment to and responsibility for achieving greater diversity. The Charter, which was adopted by the firm's Executive Committee, drives our ongoing efforts in several key areas: hiring, recruitment, and retention; promoting diversity on the basis of merit and performance; professional development; and maintaining a leadership position in our diversity endeavors.
Our diversity efforts are led by a formal, firmwide Diversity Committee, chaired by partner Amanda Groves, which includes representatives of top management and major practice areas and departments. The Diversity Committee's formal, multi-year strategic plan for diversity involved research, focus groups, extensive interviews, and analysis. The plan focused on several key areas: mentoring; work/life balance; recruitment; business and professional development; communications; retention, assignments, and inclusion; and associate evaluations. Several firm initiatives were established as a result of this effort, including an enhanced maternity leave policy, a formal mentoring program, new business development training, and the launch of several affinity groups. The Committee monitors the plan on an ongoing basis to calibrate activities and enhance the firm's diversity-related efforts.
Our recruitment and retention efforts involve ongoing and active participation in law school and minority association job fairs, including efforts with Howard University, the Cook County (IL) Bar Association minority job fair, Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Western Region Black Law Student Association Job Fair, Northeastern Black Law Student Association Job Fair, Mid-Atlantic Black Law Student Association Job Fair, Lavender Law, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, and the Hispanic National Bar Association Job Fair. The firm believes in taking an active role in diversifying the law school pipeline and, since 2001, has offered scholarships to diverse law school students. In selecting the scholarship recipients, we consider the students' academic achievements and extra-curricular activities, demonstrated leadership skills, and interpersonal skills. Award recipients become part of our summer associate program, and we encourage them to consider positions with us upon graduation.
Our formal mentoring program, rolled out in 2007, is designed to encourage retention among our attorneys. At a national level, the program is co-chaired by a minority female attorney. The Chicago office mentoring program is coordinated by two minority females, and the New York and San Francisco office efforts also are led by women. The program is designed to provide support for the career and professional development of associates, including opportunities for greater attorney interaction across levels, discussion about firm culture, processes, expectations, and values, and more rapid assumption of leadership roles.
We also support women attorneys through our Women's Steering Committee (WSC), which includes women partners from the firm's offices who meet quarterly to discuss new initiatives and ongoing efforts aimed at retaining, developing, and promoting women attorneys to partnership and leadership positions. Through the Women to Women initiative (W2W), the firm hosts formal and informal programs so female associates have a chance to develop stronger relationships with female partners. The formal programs have included discussions on business development and leadership, along with profiles of new female lateral partners. Informal mentoring lunches provide opportunities for female associates to meet with female partners to discuss work-related issues. To encourage information sharing, the firm has held three firmwide women's conferences for all female partners and associates that have included panel discussions, outside speakers, and networking opportunities.
The firm's LGBT affinity group, a Diversity Committee effort, provides networking opportunities and provides guidance on sponsorships, outreach, and leadership opportunities. The group, which is open to attorneys and staff, meets regularly to discuss initiatives that support professional development, recruitment and retention matters aimed at LGBT attorneys. The firm also was a recent participant at an all-day forum focused on creating diversity initiatives that promote the advancement and retention of LGBT lawyers.
Members of Winston's LGBT affinity group also have provided pro bono legal services through the firm's public service program. For example, in recent months an associate represented the Servicemembers' Legal Defense Network, a resource and advocacy organization supporting gay and lesbian service members in the armed forces, as amicus curiae in the case of United States v. Harvey. Our client was convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for engaging in private, consensual homosexual conduct that is considered protected, private activity under Lawrence v. Texas and United States v. Marcum. A general court-martial convicted our client and dishonorably discharged him from the Air Force. The case, which is in the military justice system, is being appealed to the military's highest court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). We submitted a brief asking the CAAF to grant review of the case and the petition is currently pending before the Court.
The firm rolled out a Parent2Parent intranet site in 2008 that includes information, tips, and contacts so attorneys can more easily manage their legal careers and home life. The core set of pages include information about adoption and pregnancy, childcare resources, elder care, school options, books, DVDs, and links to many web sites. The site is interactive so attorneys can share tips, news, and suggestions with other attorneys about parenting and family issues.
In April 2008, firm managing partner Thomas Fitzgerald attended the two-day "Call to Action" summit that took take place in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Call to Action summit brought together a cross-section of general counsel, many from Fortune 500 corporations, as well as managing partners of the nation's largest law firms. The summit served as an opportunity to discuss diversity issues and identify next steps to improve diversity in the legal profession. Call to Action seeks to further the goals of the original 1999 Diversity in the Workplace statement, and since its creation in 2005, the list of participating firms and companies continues to grow daily.
For more information about Diversity initiative, please click here.
Winston & Strawn is among the most technologically advanced law firms in the world. We are committed to using state-of-the-art hardware and software in innovative ways to improve the efficiency and quality of our legal services on a continuous basis. Our dedication in this area has earned us a technology ranking of No. 21 overall among 170 firms in AmLaw Tech's 2006 "Tech Scorecard." Our firm has a large team of professionals dedicated to servicing the technology needs of both our attorneys and clients. This team is responsible for building and delivering the most advanced technology systems and for providing the necessary technical training for all levels — from the newest associate to the most senior partner.