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At K&L Gates, one of our core values is to create and sustain a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture that encourages satisfaction and productivity for all of our attorneys and professional staff.

Diversity is a key component of our Global Managing Partner’s strategic plan and a standing agenda item at all Management Committee meetings. Additionally, our firmwide Diversity and Women in the Profession Committees are led by two women equity partners (including one Management Committee member) and a former practicing lawyer who works full-time as the firm’s diversity director. These global committees oversee robust budgets and our employee resource groups (ERGs), which include groups for women lawyers; LGBT employees and allies; lawyers of color; working parents; veterans; and lawyers with disabilities. These groups spearhead programs ranging from women’s business mentorship training in Portland and promoting mental health awareness in London and Melbourne, to assisting transgender individuals with name changes in Melbourne, Pittsburgh and Sydney.

Increasing diversity in legal talent pipeline is critical, and we are engaged in several programs focused on recruiting. We currently offer two K&L Gates Diversity Fellowships in Seattle and Pittsburgh. Our Pittsburgh-based Fellowship, offered in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Pitt Law), grants a full-tuition scholarship to an entering student at Pitt Law for all three years of law school, as well as a paid summer associate position in K&L Gates’ Pittsburgh office in the student’s first and second summers of law school. Our Seattle-based Diversity Fellowship offers one diverse first-year law student from any U.S. law school a paid summer associate position in our Seattle office and a $10,000 scholarship. We also participate in the Seattle-based Gregoire Fellows program at the University of Washington. This program connects law students with leading Puget Sound area businesses and law firms and supports students throughout their education. Students receive paid summer internships with participating law firms and corporate legal departments after the first year of study, and financial assistance for bar exam preparation at the end of their studies. The fellows also have opportunities to participate in a mentorship program with former Governor Christine Gregoire.

We also participate in the Charlotte Legal Diversity Clerkship (“CLDC”) Program, initiated by the Mecklenburg County Bar and Inclusion Committee. We have participated in the CLDC Program every year since it began in 2006, which works to increase the numbers of diverse bar members. Each selected first-year law student receives a 12-week summer internship that is split between six weeks at a participating law firm and six weeks at a participating corporate legal department.

Additionally, we recruit diverse first-year law students to be Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Scholars. LCLD is an organization of leaders in the law who are dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession, and participants in the LCLD Scholars program receive targeted mentoring, career development opportunities and a summer team-building retreat.

Lastly, we run the K&L Gates Kickstarter Program in several U.S. offices. Kickstarter is a multi-seminar, multi-office program designed to assist U.S. first-year law students who self-identify as diverse in navigating the transition from law school to law firm. Since 2013, over 200 students have participated, with some joining the firm as summer and first-year associates thereafter.

K&L Gates proudly sponsors and/or participates in a number of diversity-related events and organizations including the ABA’s Minority Counsel Program and Commission on Disability Rights, Diversity Council Australia, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), LCLD, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), the National Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, Stonewall UK, and the Women in Law Empowerment Forum. Some of our lawyers serve as leaders within these organizations: partner Sang-yul Lee is a former President of the NAPABA Law Foundation, partner Bill Simonitsch is a former President of NAPABA, and partner Diane Ambler serves on the NAWL Board.

Although we recognize that we have more work to do, we are proud of the strides we have made. This year, the Women in Law Empowerment Forum awarded us Gold Certification for an eighth time, recognizing our work ensuring significant representation of women at all levels of firm leadership. In 2015, Chambers USA recognized us as the “Outstanding Firm for Furthering Women’s Advancement” (Recruitment, Retention and Promotion). In 2016, Yale Law Women named us a “Top Ten Family Friendly Firm,” with specific honors in the Gender Equity category, and the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency has named us an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality several years in a row. We have received the Two Ticks Disability Symbol in Great Britain multiple times for prioritizing the employment, retention, training and career development of employees with disabilities, and we recently were ranked among the top 100 LGBT-inclusive employers in the U.K. by the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. We also have been rated a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” in the U.S. by the Human Rights Campaign for eight consecutive years by earning a 100 score on their Corporate Equality Index survey. 

Clients also have recognized us for our diversity and inclusion initiatives. In 2018, client Chevron recognized K&L Gates for the firm’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. K&L Gates has been honored as a top achiever in advancing diversity within the legal profession by Microsoft’s Law Firm Diversity Program. We also were recognized by Lockheed Martin Corporation for our firm’s commitment to inclusion and diversity on our client team.

We are committed to collaborating with our clients and communities in furtherance of our goals and we strive to maintain an inclusive culture that enriches the experience of our lawyers and staff, enabling them to better serve our clients. We encourage cooperation and teamwork and provide fair and ethical treatment of all employees regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.

Diversity Contacts
Pallavi Mehta Wahi, Seattle Office Managing Partner and Chair, Diversity Committee
Cindy Ohlenforst, Partner and Chair, Women in the Profession Committee