Diversity & Inclusion

At Foley, diversity is both a moral imperative and a competitive advantage. Drawing on diverse perspectives, we can uncover innovative legal solutions for your most challenging business problems.

Foley embraces and strives for diversity not only in terms of our people, but also in the unique ideas and perspectives each person brings to the firm. The strength and success of our law firm requires the inclusion of people with different insights and experiences, which results in more creative and innovative solutions to your legal and business challenges. Even as we do our best to promote diversity of thought at Foley, it all comes together for a single goal: providing you with the highest level of service and innovative legal thinking. 

As such, our diversity initiative is based on a focused and clearly defined mission: 

Foley is dedicated to fostering an environment that embraces differences, promotes equality, and engenders mutual respect, thereby creating a culture of inclusion where everyone has the opportunity to excel. We are committed to recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse attorneys, thereby resulting in a diversity of perspectives that benefits the firm, our clients, and the communities in which we practice.

We are pleased to present the firm’s 2017 Diversity & Inclusion Year in Review. This report chronicles our efforts during the last fiscal year to advance and celebrate a diverse and inclusive workplace, both within the firm and in partnership with our clients. (Please Note: This report only includes information prior to the combination with Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP. We look forward to providing a D&I report on the combined firm next year!)

Click here for the full report.

We support the advancement of our diverse attorneys by maintaining an inclusive environment where all attorneys are fully integrated into all aspects of professional opportunities and development. Initiatives that promote this goal include:

Affinity Groups: We recognize the importance of providing our diverse talent with internal networks and/or communities, which is why we support Affinity Groups for women, African-American, Asian Pacific-American, Hispanic-American, and openly gay and lesbian attorneys (along with their allies), as well as for attorneys working a flexible schedule and working parents. These groups also have been vital in fostering informal mentoring relationships, encouraging participation in recruiting activities, and identifying and coordinating business development opportunities.

Ongoing Skill Development: Our Chief Diversity Partner — along with the other firm leaders — reviews specific information about each individual attorney in an effort to ensure that he or she is receiving the right mix of work assignments that will provide him or her with opportunities for success and advancement.

All of our diversity initiatives are developed and supported by the firm’s diversity leadership:

Chief Diversity Partner: Our firm’s Chief Diversity Partner, Eileen R. Ridley, is the principal driver of our diversity initiatives and works to create an environment where anyone with talent and ambition can succeed.

Diversity & Inclusion Action Council: The firm’s Diversity Council — which comprises individuals from a cross-section of offices and practices, and includes a diverse group of partners, associates, and professional staff — is tasked with the development and strategic direction of our diversity and inclusion programs.

Diversity Department: Our Diversity Department counsels diverse attorneys on business planning and career development, cultivates relationships and strategic alliances with diverse organizations, provides avenues for speaking and writing opportunities to showcase the talents of our diverse attorneys, and develops and maintains communication vehicles.

Foley has established and supports a variety of initiatives that are designed to continue our commitment to the advancement of women in our firm, including:

Women’s Network: The backbone of many of our internal efforts that support our women attorneys, the Women’s Network encourages and supports both national and local efforts. The national network acts as both an incubator and resource for training programs, business development, and networking efforts, as well as other advancement issues of interest to our women attorneys. The local office networks are given autonomy to plan and host meetings on topics of interest to their individual office members.

Women-to-Women Business Development Opportunities: Foley continually promotes and invests in women attorneys’ business development initiatives.

We are a sponsor of the ATHENAPowerLink® mentoring program, which offers women business owners access to a panel of advisors/mentors. Other women organizations with which we are involved include Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and Springboard Enterprises, which are dedicated to supporting women-owned businesses.

We recognize that the satisfaction and success of our attorneys, particularly our working parents, requires the ongoing development of policies, programs, and a culture that supports work/life balance. Examples include:

Flexible Schedule Policy: Our firm’s policy allows attorneys to customize their individual schedule, affording them the opportunity to create a schedule that balances their personal needs with the needs of their individual practice. Attorneys can customize the number of days per week, the number of hours per day, as well as the total hours worked per year that they work. Most important, the use of our flexible schedule policy does not impair an attorney’s career progression.

Working Parent Network: Allows attorneys an opportunity to share their experiences, challenges and successes, and ideas as it relates to their families and their careers. Based on member input, meetings feature both focused discussions by a speaker or a panel, as well as more casual opportunities to meet and network with parents and expecting parents. 

Each office has a designated lead and he/she also serves as a coach to new parents. Attorneys planning for a parental leave are assigned to an attorney coach, who also is a working parent and has recent personal experience managing the leave process. The coaches provide personal support and information about planning for and transitioning back from a parental leave, as well as options associated with flex schedules.

Paid Parental Benefit: In the event of a birth or adoption of a child, and while on an approved leave of absence, 100 percent of base salary can be replaced for up to 10 weeks with our Paid Parental Benefit. Biological mothers are also eligible for short term disability benefits, which provide 100 percent base salary replacement for typically up to eight weeks. These benefits run consecutively.

Back-Up Care Program: This program provides primary caregivers back-up childcare/eldercare services when there is a temporary conflict with their normal childcare/eldercare arrangements. Administered and supported by an outside agency, services are available either in your home or at a qualified childcare facility. The firm subsidizes a majority of the costs, keeping the program very affordable.

One of Foley's active Affinity Groups, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Allies Affinity Group, provides a forum for our attorneys to address issues of equality in the legal profession. This group is open to all attorneys, not only to those who consider themselves members of the LGBTQ community. Together, the LGBTQA Affinity Group works to ensure that diversity efforts also represent the needs and interests of LGBTQ attorneys at Foley and beyond. Our members are actively involved in social justice issues and the ongoing discussion on equal rights for LGBTQ members.

In addition, we partnered with the National LGBT Bar Association to sponsor a Directory of LGBT Law Partners and LGBT-Owned Law Firms, a comprehensive listing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender partners and their law firms in the United States. This first-of-its-kind searchable directory is a valuable resource that simplifies the process of identifying experienced members of the LGBT legal community for the benefit of clients, law students, journalists, and others.

Law School Outreach: We take a proactive approach to recruiting diverse attorneys. We consciously reach out to law student associations at schools across the country to cultivate personal relationships with the diverse law students and to build a pipeline of diverse recruits. Our diversity recruiting efforts include:

  • A Diversity Recruiting Project Team and a professional staff position dedicated to supporting diverse student recruitment efforts.
  • Targeted Outreach Teams comprising Foley alumni who are responsible for developing customized strategies and programs to raise our visibility and strengthen our ties with diverse law students.
  • At various law schools throughout the country, we partner with the minority and women’s student groups to host informative panel programs for their law student members. During these panels, our attorneys discuss topics of interest to law students and share their professional and personal experiences related to diversity and working in a large law firm.
  • An Affinity Group Ambassador Program that is designed to help orient our new diverse attorneys and summer associates to the firm by pairing them with a Foley attorney who acts as an “informal mentor” during their transition into the firm.

Diversity Career Fairs: Foley also is an active supporter of diversity career fairs across the nation. We currently are involved with the following recruitment events:

  • Bay Area Diversity Career Fair
  • Black Law Students Association Regional Job Fairs
  • Boston Lawyers Group Job Fair for Law Students of Color
  • Cook County Bar Association Minority Job Fair
  • Harvard Black Law Students Association 1L and 2L/3L Job Fairs
  • National LGBT Bar Association Lavender Law Career Fair

Supporting a New Generation: We actively participate in a number of pipeline programs that promote careers in the legal profession to diverse students and ensure that our communities retain and improve their diversity, including:

  • Lawyers in the Classroom, a mock trial program for Chicago inner-city elementary students
  • Citizen Schools and Discovering Justice Mock Trial program, a program in which attorneys "coach" local middle school students
  • Institute for Responsible Citizenship, which brings high-achieving African-American male college sophomores and juniors to Washington, D.C. for summer internships, focusing on the legal profession and the logistics of getting into law school
  • Street Law, a nonprofit that teaches high school students in underprivileged communities about law, democracy, and human rights.
  • Mentors to the students at Legal Prep Charter Academy, the only legal-themed high school in Illinois. Their goal is to prepare their students, all of whom are African American or Hispanic American, for a legal career. Our Chicago office is a funding sponsor of the Legal Prep Charter Academy.
  • Supports the Detroit Athletic League, which uses sports to build character in young people.

Diversity Partnerships: Foley supports national and local legal organizations that promote diversity within the legal profession. Our attorneys participate in, and/or the firm financially supports, organizations such as:

  • Black Women’s Lawyers Association
  • California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP)
  • Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC)
  • Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
  • National Bar Association (NBA)
  • National Lesbian and Gay Bar Association (LGBT)
  • South Asian Bar Association (SABA)

Top 100 Law Firm for DiversityOur achievements in the area of diversity have been nationally recognized. Most recently, Foley:

  • Scored 100 percent on Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, a report on LGBT benefits within corporate America (2013 – 2017)
  • Recognized as a “top law firm” for diversity inclusiveness and equality by Equality Illinois, the state's leading LGBT rights organization (2012 – 2016)
  • Recognized for the third consecutive year as a “Best Law Firm for Women” by Working Mother magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers LLC (2013 – 2016)
  • Named Corporate Partner of the Year by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce (2015)
  • Received a Gold Standard Certification for integrating women into the highest levels of firm leadership by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) (2012 – 2013)
  • Was included in MultiCultural Law magazine’s “Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity” (2005, 2007 – 2012)