"Innovative best practices to assist diverse attorneys in the legal profession."
At Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell, we believe that a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace furthers our mission of delivering world-class litigation and trial services to our clients. Experience has taught us that we provide better service and achieve greater results when our teams reflect the diversity of our clients and the communities we serve.
WTO is committed to increasing diversity in our firm and in the legal industry by facilitating meaningful, equitable opportunities for our lawyers and staff, and by supporting numerous pipeline efforts to encourage diverse students to pursue careers in the law.
As a result of our years-long focus on promotion and advancement, 28% of partners—and WTO only has one partnership tier—and 50% of our management committee are women. This places WTO firmly alongside the top 10% of AmLaw 200 firms in these areas. WTO was also one of the first major firms in the Rocky Mountain region to elect a diverse managing partner, in 2012.
Better Reflecting Our Clients: Recent Recruitment, Retention & Advancement Efforts
- WTO recently updated its associate review process to a behavioral- and evidence-based model to disrupt implicit bias. This builds on a similar shift we made to our interview process, described below.
- A professional development manager monitors opportunities and assignments to help ensure equity and inclusion across associates.
- We also employ a professional writing coach to help all WTO associates develop their legal writing skills to the levels that WTO’s clients and partners expect.
- Several years ago, WTO adopted a behavior-based interview format—in contrast to traditional models focusing solely on "pedigree and fit"— to mitigate implicit bias in the recruiting and hiring process. Since making this change, we have substantially increased our offers of employment to diverse and women attorneys.
- WTO financially supports, and our attorneys volunteer time to, Law School . . . Yes We Can!, an organization dedicated to carving a path to law school for students with modest means, many of whom are first-generation college students.
- WTO is a proud participant in the Lumen Technologies Law Firm Diversity Partnership Program, which promotes diversity among Lumen’s preferred outside counsel and creates advancement opportunities for diverse attorneys. A WTO associate is currently participating in the program.
- WTO participates in the LCLD 1L Scholars Program and the Colorado Pledge to Diversity, hiring rising 1L students as summer clerks. The firm also sponsors a 2L Summer Clerkship Program to recruit and cultivate diverse talent from across the country.
Current Community & Network Development Efforts
- In 2020, WTO co-founded the Denver Law Firm Coalition for Racial Equity along with the five largest Denver-based law firms. Together, Coalition firms are advancing racial equity in Denver’s legal community through knowledge-sharing, joint initiatives, and accountability measures. Coalition firms are working to make Denver an appealing destination for diverse attorneys, for example through the Coalition's Practice Denver initiative, which is building a pipeline to Denver from Chicago-area law schools.
- WTO is an active member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, a national organization that offers sophisticated networking and leadership opportunities to diverse attorneys.
- WTO is a proud member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, an international coalition of leading law firms focused on dismantling barriers to opportunity in communities of color.
- Diverse WTO attorneys regularly participate in the Colorado General Counsel Mentoring Program, building their relationships and networks with influential general counsel.
- WTO hosts a quarterly Diversity Roundtable. Clients from diverse industries, geographies, and roles join a rotating group of WTO lawyers in an intimate (typically eight participants per Roundtable) and candid discussion of what diversity, equity, and inclusion practices are working in the legal profession, where clients and law firms can do more together, and where we need to rethink our approaches. Discussions are not broadcast or recorded, which allows participants to speak freely. A notetaker records comments without attribution, and from these notes WTO captures highlights, trends, and best practices across Roundtables to share back to participants. Panelists receive CLE credit.
- We engage consultants to provide firm-wide trainings on a variety of topics. Recent examples include “The Brain Science of Unconscious Bias” and “Rethinking Diversity: Where Do We Go From Here?” WTO has also launched an annual speaker series on workplace inclusion and paths to leadership for diverse and women attorneys.
- WTO offers seminars, CLEs, and trainings to firm personnel and clients throughout the year on topics around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
For more information about WTO's DEI efforts, please contact our Diversity & Inclusion Chair, Michele Choe.