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Affinity Groups

At Cravath, our most important long-term goal is the professional development of our lawyers, and we take a holistic approach to this objective—one that recognizes the importance of training, relationship-building, mentoring and balancing career and outside obligations and interests.

Our lawyers come from a wide range of backgrounds, but they all share important qualities—intelligence, creativity, a strong work ethic and a desire to excel. In order to reach their full potential, our lawyers must feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work, so we devote substantial time, energy and resources to helping them connect with their colleagues and with Firm leadership.

Through our internal affinity groups, our associates have the opportunity to build and strengthen professional relationships, receive informal mentoring and advice and discuss matters of importance to the group. Our affinity groups have attorneys of varying seniority, enabling junior and mid-level lawyers to gain valuable work-related insight from their more senior colleagues. The groups also provide a forum through which associates can raise concerns and make suggestions to the partners. They include:

African American/Black Associate Affinity Group

Partner Liaison: Andy Pitts (Corporate)

Asian/Pacific Islander Associate Affinity Group

Partner Liaisons: Tim Cameron (Litigation), Alyssa Caples (Corporate), Minh Van Ngo (Corporate) and Ting Chen (Corporate)

Hispanic/Latinx Associate Affinity Group

Partner Liaisons: Richard Hall (Corporate), Damaris Hernández (Litigation) and Sasha Rosenthal‑Larrea (Corporate)

LGBTQ+ Associate Affinity Group

Partner Liaison: Gary Bornstein (Litigation)

South Asian Affinity Group

Partner Liaison: Omid Nasab (Litigation)

Women’s Initiative

Steering Committee: Tim Cameron (Litigation), Tatiana Lapushchik (Corporate), Dave Perkins (Corporate) and Julie North (Litigation)

Working Parents Group

Partner Liaison: Karin DeMasi (Litigation)

Starting Conversations, Building Relationships

Affinity group events vary by size and scope—from quarterly African American/Black Affinity Group lunches to Working Parents Group meetings to the Asian/Pacific Islander Affinity Group’s Lunar New Year dinners. They also present an opportunity for associates to connect with the wider legal community. For example, Cravath takes tables at the Annual Awards Dinners of Lambda Legal and the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, and members of the Hispanic/Latinx group are active in Cafecitos, a networking breakfast for Latina attorneys in New York City, which the Firm most recently hosted in March 2019.

We also arrange some of our programming by seniority level, providing ample opportunities for our associates to develop both peer and mentor relationships in a relaxed setting. For instance, the partners in the Women’s Initiative host informal lunches and cocktail hours for incoming and summer associates at restaurants and partners’ homes.

The intent of each event is to encourage informal conversations, enabling our lawyers to develop professional relationships organically. We want our associates to have a deep network of colleagues to turn to for support and advice on issues including taking ownership of one’s career, fostering relationships with colleagues and clients, enhancing one’s professional development skills and producing exceptional work for our clients while managing life’s personal demands. Our group events foster an environment where free-flowing conversations on these topics are encouraged.

Joint Affinity Group and Firmwide Programs

Alongside our individual affinity group programming, we identify opportunities for members of our affinity groups to come together as a larger community. Members of our Diversity Committee host joint affinity group dinners by class year that provide a forum for associates to share their experiences and insights as they relate to diversity and inclusion. Every summer and winter, the Firm hosts Joint Affinity Group Receptions, where partners and members of the affinity groups come together as a community. The events provide a forum for attorneys to find commonalities and access a deep, Firmwide network.

In addition to bringing our affinity groups together, we identify opportunities for all attorneys to participate in programming that affirms the importance of diversity and inclusion. For example, in celebration of Black History Month we hosted a screening of Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. Bayard, an African American, gay man, was instrumental in shaping the 1963 March on Washington and bringing Gandhi’s nonviolence techniques to the Civil Rights Movement. Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director of the Committee of Civil Rights Under Law, and Nancy Kates, co‑producer and co‑director of the film, spoke at the program. Additionally, during Pride, Rachel Tiven, the former CEO of Lambda Legal, spoke at the Firm. The conversation, facilitated by partner Gary Bornstein, addressed Lambda Legal’s history and evolution and ongoing fight to ensure equality for the LGBTQ+ community.

A much-anticipated event took place when our African American/Black Associate Affinity Group and our Women’s Initiative hosted a conversation with Cravath alumna Deirdre Stanley, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Board Secretary of Thomson Reuters. Deirdre was interviewed about her career, her insights on making decisions within a business context and diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Afterwards, Deirdre answered questions from attorneys at the Firm.

Associate-Driven Dialogues

We value the wisdom and experience of our associates, and they have spearheaded many Firm initiatives. For example, the inspiration behind the Joint Affinity Group Receptions came from associates. Our Working Parents Group began with informal lunch meetings among associates who have children. Our affinity groups also provide the Firm with valuable insight into diversity-related programming and other matters. For example, members of our African American/Black Affinity Group have advised the Firm on additional strategies for recruiting and retaining black associates, which were subsequently incorporated into Cravath’s recruitment plan and affinity group programming.

To facilitate this dialogue, each group has at least one partner liaison, who actively seeks input from members on topics such as ideas for future programming, suggestions for Firm sponsorships of professional organizations and events, as well as general feedback about their experiences at Cravath. The partner liaisons also identify resources—both within and outside the Firm—that might benefit affinity group members.