Participation in firm life is highly valued and encouraged. Our associates and counsel serve on their local office hiring committees and inclusion councils. They serve as mentors to first year and summer associates, and they participate in and serve as faculty for in-house training programs. Our associates and counsel are very active in pro bono matters and in community organizations.
Associates and counsel are also involved in firm governance. More than a decade ago, the firm’s then-chairman created a committee composed of associates and counsel from each office in the firm to meet with the chairman, and now chairperson, several times a year to discuss firm matters. The committee also hears from the chairperson regarding topics of firmwide importance, including topics related to diversity, wellbeing and agile work. In the past, the committee has taken on important initiatives for the firm, including enhancement of the firm’s diversity recruiting efforts for both entry-level and lateral attorneys and the development of the firm’s core competency program.
The firm’s goal is to develop well-trained, successful lawyers who have a high degree of career satisfaction and add value to the firm. We use a competency-based approach to professional development which provides our associates and counsel with clear expectations, the opportunity to develop their skills and the benefit of receiving the most meaningful evaluation of their progress. Our professional development program is anchored by four core competencies – ownership, professional excellence, service and teamwork and client focus. Our framework includes practice-specific benchmarks to guide our lawyers’ professional development, a fair and effective assignment process, hands-on opportunities and experiences, skills based training programs, and practice-specific training. These elements combine to provide associates and counsel with the tools they need to become outstanding practitioners.
The firm supports a culture of mentoring our associates and we recognize the importance of providing performance feedback and guidance on both an informal and formal basis. Our attorneys receive the benefit of our partners' and senior attorneys' experience through formal training programs, participation in firm committees and through formal and informal mentoring.
Summer associates are provided with partner and associate /counsel mentors and have regular meetings throughout the summer with their mentors, and with the advisors and attorneys with whom they have worked for the purpose of receiving feedback on their work. During the summer program, assigning partners or work coordinators oversee the work assignment process.
Each first year associate at Akin Gump is assigned a Peer Advisor and Partner Advisor to assist with the transition into firm life. Several of the firm’s offices have also established formal mentoring programs for all associates and counsel who wish to participate. Additionally, the firm has established an annual Partner Recognition Award to recognize a partner in each office who excels at mentoring and professional development of associates and counsel.
Akin Gump’s Commitment to Diversity
Akin Gump has maintained a long standing commitment to diversity at all levels. We believe that a broad range of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives enables us to develop more innovative solutions for our clients. Collegiality is also one of our core values and underscores our commitment to an inclusive workplace and professional development. We use all of these methods and continually work to assure the recruitment, retention and promotion of women and minorities by embracing a culture of inclusiveness and equal opportunity. Our diversity and inclusion efforts remain true to our core value of excellence, particularly when it comes to the talented individuals who make Akin Gump such an exciting and inclusive place to practice law.
The firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is implemented through active participation by our minority and female partners in the firm’s leadership. Kim Koopersmith, a litigation partner in the firm’s New York office, became the firm's chairperson in 2013. Upon assuming the role, she became the first woman at Akin Gump—and one of very few women at a major, global law firm—to hold the position of chairperson. Ms. Koopersmith has been a major proponent of the firm’s diversity efforts, overseeing the creation of the firm’s Women’s Professional Development Initiative and of the firm’s Reduced Workload Policy. Her personal commitment has been a guiding force for Akin Gump’s diversity and inclusion efforts throughout her leadership at the firm.
Akin Gump maintains a two-tiered diversity and inclusion council system, with both a firmwide diversity and inclusion council and diversity and inclusion councils in each office. The firmwide council is chaired by Akin Gump’s Chairperson, Kim Koopersmith. Akin Gump’s diversity and inclusion councils at the office and firmwide levels offer the opportunity for lawyers and business services staff to proactively communicate questions, concerns and ideas to firm management and to recommend additional means by which the firm can enhance diversity and inclusion. The inclusion councils in the U.S. offices are responsible for the development and implementation of diversity-related initiatives for their location or region.
The firm also has firmwide resource groups (FRGs) which provide a supportive community in addition to programming for women, working parents and caregivers, people with disabilities, and those who identify as Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, and/or LGBT, and their allies. The FRGs are intended to compliment the firm’s efforts related to recruiting, professional development and fostering inclusive workplaces. Some of the FRGs have created their own formal mentoring programs and hosted programs for professional development. In addition, the FRGs provide members with informal mentoring opportunities, as we made a conscious decision to have members of our Management Committee, our highest governing body, serve as the Executive Sponsor of each FRG to foster a connection between firm leaders and FRG members.
Recruiting talented lawyers from diverse backgrounds is a primary focus in achieving the firm’s vision of becoming a diverse and inclusive organization. The firm sponsors and participates in events led by law student affinity groups, and also participates in networking programs, recruiting events, and other forums with a focus on diverse lawyers and law students.
In 2013, Akin Gump established the Akin Gump/Robert Strauss Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship for second year law students. The program provides a $25,000 scholarship to outstanding rising 2L law students to offset expenses for law school. The program spans two summers, with the Strauss Diversity & Inclusion Scholars working both at the firm and at a firm client during the first summer (as rising 2Ls). The next summer, the Strauss Diversity & Inclusion Scholars join the firm as participants in the firm’s general summer associate program in the Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. offices.
Akin Gump is an active participant in the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (“SEO”) Program which recruits diverse college students and recent graduates from across the country who will attend law school in the fall and places them in summer internships/programs in law firms and financial institutions. The firm hosts SEO interns in our Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington offices.
The firm also sponsors and participates in the PracticePro Diversity Scholar Program, which provides training and coaching to diverse law students. The goal of the program is to provide students the skills necessary to be successful in the legal profession as they enter practice. The firm has sponsored a diversity scholar through this program since 2015.
To learn more about diversity and inclusion at Akin Gump, visit our website.
Family Friendly Policies
The firm has created a culture where attorneys are supported and able to balance work and family responsibilities. The firm’s Reduced Workload Policy allows attorneys to work reduced schedules and reflects the firm’s commitment to providing a workplace that enables attorneys to fulfill parenting and family care responsibilities or to pursue activities designed to enhance professional development or stature in the legal community, while continuing to work as a productive and valued Akin Gump attorney. Further, the policy specifically provides that attorneys working a reduced workload remain eligible for partnership and counsel promotion. Akin Gump's provides lawyers with up to 10 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. New parents may take up to ten weeks paid parental leave. In addition, birth mothers and adoptive parents providing primary care to an infant are provided eight weeks of paid medical/adoption leave. The firm also offers an adoption reimbursement program. The program provides a reimbursement for qualifying adoption expenses to employees who have been employed by the firm for more than one year. Akin Gump’s Washington office has an on-site back-up child-care center that provides child care during business hours to children of employees. The firm also offers an emergency back-up child care and elder care benefit, which is available to all offices. Under this program, Akin Gump employees are eligible for up to 100 hours of emergency dependent care services annually. This vital resource provides flexibility and options for attorneys whose regular child-care is temporarily unavailable, or who have responsibilities caring for aging or ill parents.
In 2017, the firm launched an Agile Work Policy for lawyers. Agile work arrangements allow lawyers to work remotely on a regular basis either on a set schedule or based on a set amount of days per week. The firm provides technology and select home office equipment that enables associates and counsel to have very similar home office and work office set ups.
Akin Gump’s Commitment to Pro Bono
Akin Gump is highly committed to pro bono practice and it is an important part of our firm’s culture. The firm’s pro bono practice is led by partner Steven Schulman. Over 90% of the firm’s associates participate in pro bono practice. Pro bono hours are counted equally to any other client hours, with no cap on credit. All levels of firm management champion the firm's policy of strongly encouraging lawyers to participate in our pro bono practice as part of their ongoing caseloads.
The firm has extended this commitment to pro bono through our summer associate program as well as through our Pro Bono Scholars program. The firm's summer associates have been an integral part of a firmwide project to help battered immigrant women obtain permanent U.S. residency under the Violence Against Women Act. Since 2007, our summer associates firmwide have worked on VAWA and related U Visa applications, assisting more than 200 women through this project.
The Pro Bono Scholars program is a two-summer program for top law students who show a strong interest in making pro bono an integral part of their Akin Gump careers. The Pro Bono Scholars are rising second-year law students who work both at the firm and at a public interest organization during the summer. The next (rising third year) summer, the Pro Bono Scholars are members of the firm’s regular summer associate program.
Innovative Initiatives at Akin Gump
The firm’s holistic Be Well program launched in 2016 in support of a long-term commitment to each employee’s individual physical, emotional and financial well-being. It provides tools, resources and activities to support a healthy, productive and balanced life, and is designed to help each individual achieve their own goals.
The Akin JUMP! initiative launched in early 2019 and grew from an idea at a midlevel associate hackathon. The program allows associates and counsel, at the third-year of practice and above, to visit another office for short stays for the purpose of practice development, networking and internal business development.
In 2019, the firm created industry-first virtual reality tours of its Dallas and New York offices. In these tours, the firm provides candidates with realistic, firsthand insight into who we are as a firm. Each tour highlights various aspects of the firm as a whole and features lawyers describing some of the firm's programs and initiatives. To get started, please visit: https://www.youvisit.com/tour/akingump/