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, enhance their sense of community, 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. 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. Our affinity groups include:
Partner Liaison: Karin DeMasi (Litigation)
Affinity group events vary by size and scope—from regular 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.
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 our affinity groups, we identify opportunities for all attorneys to participate in programming that affirms the importance of diversity and inclusion. For example, the Firm recently hosted a virtual program with Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who spoke to the Black Lives Matter Movement within the broader context of the ongoing fight for racial justice, and the importance of equal access to the ballot in 2020. Additionally, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, one of our partners facilitated a conversation with Emmy-award winning documentarian Rudy Valdez. During the conversation, Rudy discussed his film The Sentence and mandatory minimums, their consequences and the critical need for sentencing reform. For prior Black History Month programs, we have hosted a screening of and discussion around Just Mercy, as well as hosted notable speakers, including the President of Fisk University; and Professor Anthony Thompson, Founding Faculty Director of NYU’s Center on Race, Inequality and the Law.
A much anticipated event took place during Pride month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the launch of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. The event featured partner Peter Barbur and alumni Ria Tabacco Mar of the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, Sharon McGowan of Lambda Legal and James Stewart of The New York Times. The discussion focused on laws and policies that have helped further LGBTQ+ equality.
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.
Additionally, each affinity group has at least one associate who serves as a “lead”. Associate (co-)leads organize internal affinity group meetings and work alongside affinity group partner liaisons and the Diversity & Inclusion team to implement new programming. They also meet with our Diversity Committee Co-chairs and Head of Diversity & Inclusion to discuss how the Firm can further engage and support affinity group members. All senior and mid-level associates in our affinity groups are given budgets for the purposes of organizing small group gatherings for junior associates, across affinity groups.
Celebrating 200 years of partnership. In 2019, we celebrated our bicentennial. Our history mirrors that of our nation. Integral to our story is our culture.