ILNews

Scholarships aim to boost diversity in law firms and other fields

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In 2008, Haroon Anwar and Abhishek Dubé became the first two recipients of $10,000 diversity scholarships from Baker & Daniels. Recipients also receive summer associate positions with the firm – which Anwar a­nd Dubé said was of even greater value than the financial award.

The firm offered Anwar and Dubé full-time jobs at the end of their summer employment in 2009.

diversity Evelyn Gentry, Saolo Delgado, Haroon Anwar and Abhishek Dubé (left to right), say that Baker & Daniels diversity scholarships helped them launch their careers. Delgado, a 3L student, plans to the join the firm next year. The other three are associates with the firm. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“If you look at big law firms, there just aren’t that many minorities in law firms and so to have a law firm go out on a limb and do something like this shows that we are serious about diversity,” Anwar said. “A lot of places say they’re committed to diversity, but it’s different to actually take action to back up what you’re saying. So I think that’s really important in terms of what the scholarship does.”

Embracing diversity

Baker & Daniels has offered the diversity scholarship each year since 2008. And the firm has a diversity committee and a Diversity and Pro Bono Manager, Brita Horvath.

In October, Baker & Daniels confirmed that it will merge with Minneapolis-based Faegre Benson, becoming Faegre Baker Daniels in 2012. Faegre Benson offers two $12,000 diversity scholarships each year, and Horvath said that was one of the many reasons the two firms felt they would make good partners.

“Diversity was an aspect of the due diligence for understanding the firm’s values, culture and interests,” she said. “It’s a source of pride and identity for all of our offices.”

Saulo Delgado, a 3L student at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, was a 2011 diversity scholarship recipient. He plans to join the firm after graduation, Horvath said.

“Diversity is more than just picking candidates, it’s more of a process,” Delgado said. “And I think that Baker & Daniels understands that it’s a process … it’s a commitment of 10 to 20 years, until you can grow your base.”

Other initiatives

In 2009, Ice Miller established a $25,000 scholarship fund at Butler. The annual award amount is based on variable market factors and will be $1,200 for the 2012 school year. Each year, the award is presented to a student who will contribute to the diversity of the student body, by way of gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, age or disability.

Michael Blickman, a partner at Ice Miller, explained one of the reasons why the firm established the scholarship.

“It is definitely part of our culture, and when selecting a law firm, clients want to understand what a firm is committed to. We find that almost universally, clients are interested in knowing our diversity efforts,” he said.

One trend Ice Miller has noticed, Blickman observed, is the lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematic – known as STEM – careers.

“To me, there is a national crisis in that they are underrepresented in STEM degrees, and women are underrepresented in all levels. Diversity is an issue that should be important to all Americans, and all lawyers,” he said.

In 2009, Krieg DeVault partnered with Rolls-Royce to award a $5,000 general legal diversity scholarship to a law student. The firm also partnered with Cummins to award a $5,000 intellectual property diversity scholarship to a law student with interest in pursuing IP law. Linda Cooley, Krieg DeVault Diversity Committee chair, said that the firm tries to promote diversity, not just in the field of law, but in the community. The lawyers recognize that their clients are interested in working with a firm that supports diversity.

“We had a major build-out here … and in doing so, one of the things we asked our building committee to do was to try to increase the number of minority- and women-owned businesses to do some of that work,” she said.

blockman Blickman

In January 2012, Krieg DeVault will host a statewide meet-and-greet for Black Law Student associations. Mauri Miller, president of the BLSA at Notre Dame Law School, planned and organized the event. Miller is one of the 2012 recipients of the Baker & Daniels diversity scholarship.

The benefit for firms

Both Delgado and Evelyn Gentry – a 2010 Baker & Daniels diversity scholarship recipient – had intended to join a small firm until they learned about the Baker & Daniels opportunity.

“During law school, I was convinced that a small firm was going to be the best fit for me,” Gentry said. But after interviewing with Baker & Daniels and learning about the scholarship, she began to rethink her career goals.

“I thought, maybe a mid- to large-size firm would be a good fit possibly, and that was something I hadn’t considered before,” she said. “I had a choice for summer in 2010 between Baker & Daniels and a smaller firm, and I just remember making my decision based on (thinking) – these people are really serious about diversity, they’re putting their money where their mouth is and I felt they were committed to it.”

Gentry is an associate in the firm’s labor and employment group.

Delgado also thought that his calling was at a small firm.

“The reason I came to law school is because I wanted to help the Hispanic community and I thought that the best way to do that was to go to a small firm where I could have an impact,” he said. “But in learning about the services that Baker & Daniels and a large firm can have, you can help the Hispanic communities or minorities on a larger scale. If you’re smaller, you can help one person do an immigration case here or there, but if you work for a bigger firm you have more services, more people that can help you.”

Delgado said he hopes other companies follow the kind of model Baker & Daniels has created.

“I guess I just hope that other firms and other corporations – not just law firms – seek their own initiatives, their own process, so that one day we can reflect what our nation looks like,” he said.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. No second amendment, pro life, pro traditional marriage, reagan or trump tshirts will be sold either. And you cannot draw Mohammed even in your own notebook. And you must wear a helmet at all times while at the fair. And no lawyer jokes can be told except in the designated protest area. And next year no crucifixes, since they are uber offensive to all but Catholics. Have a nice bland day here in the Lego movie. Remember ... Everything is awesome comrades.

  2. Thank you for this post . I just bought a LG External DVD It came with Cyber pwr 2 go . It would not play on Lenovo Idea pad w/8.1 . Your recommended free VLC worked great .

  3. All these sites putting up all the crap they do making Brent Look like A Monster like he's not a good person . First off th fight actually started not because of Brent but because of one of his friends then when the fight popped off his friend ran like a coward which left Brent to fend for himself .It IS NOT a crime to defend yourself 3 of them and 1 of him . just so happened he was a better fighter. I'm Brent s wife so I know him personally and up close . He's a very caring kind loving man . He's not abusive in any way . He is a loving father and really shouldn't be where he is not for self defense . Now because of one of his stupid friends trying to show off and turning out to be nothing but a coward and leaving Brent to be jumped by 3 men not only is Brent suffering but Me his wife , his kids abd step kidshis mom and brother his family is left to live without him abd suffering in more ways then one . that man was and still is my smile ....he's the one real thing I've ever had in my life .....f@#@ You Lafayette court system . Learn to do your jobs right he maybe should have gotten that year for misdemeanor battery but that s it . not one person can stand to me and tell me if u we're in a fight facing 3 men and u just by yourself u wouldn't fight back that you wouldn't do everything u could to walk away to ur family ur kids That's what Brent is guilty of trying to defend himself against 3 men he wanted to go home tohisfamily worse then they did he just happened to be a better fighter and he got the best of th others . what would you do ? Stand there lay there and be stomped and beaten or would u give it everything u got and fight back ? I'd of done the same only I'm so smallid of probably shot or stabbed or picked up something to use as a weapon . if it was me or them I'd do everything I could to make sure I was going to live that I would make it hone to see my kids and husband . I Love You Brent Anthony Forever & Always .....Soul 1 baby

  4. Good points, although this man did have a dog in the legal fight as that it was his mother on trial ... and he a dependent. As for parking spaces, handicap spots for pregnant women sure makes sense to me ... er, I mean pregnant men or women. (Please, I meant to include pregnant men the first time, not Room 101 again, please not Room 101 again. I love BB)

  5. I have no doubt that the ADA and related laws provide that many disabilities must be addressed. The question, however, is "by whom?" Many people get dealt bad cards by life. Some are deaf. Some are blind. Some are crippled. Why is it the business of the state to "collectivize" these problems and to force those who are NOT so afflicted to pay for those who are? The fact that this litigant was a mere spectator and not a party is chilling. What happens when somebody who speaks only East Bazurkistanish wants a translator so that he can "understand" the proceedings in a case in which he has NO interest? Do I and all other taxpayers have to cough up? It would seem so. ADA should be amended to provide a simple rule: "Your handicap, YOUR problem". This would apply particularly to handicapped parking spaces, where it seems that if the "handicap" is an ingrown toenail, the government comes rushing in to assist the poor downtrodden victim. I would grant wounded vets (IED victims come to mind in particular) a pass on this.. but others? Nope.

ADVERTISEMENT