I am proud to announce the first winner of the Dell Legal Diversity Award is Farella Braun + Martel LLP, a California-based firm handling several of Dell’s important legal matters.  Earlier this month I posted about the award and the process the Dell Legal team used to identify the finalists and winner.  Last week I had the pleasure of personally awarding a team from Farella Braun + Martel with this honor.

Farella, Braun + Martel LLP - 2012 Dell Legal Diversity award winner

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Here are just some of the innovative and successful programs and initiatives that Farella Braun + Martel devotes significant time and resources to further diversity interests in the legal profession and beyond.

  • The firm has handed out nearly a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships over the past 12 years to 54 diverse first year law students.  The program is not only intended to assist these students but also as a way of building strong, diverse lawyers for the future.  Two scholarship recipients have gone on to positions with the firm.
  • A high school internship program was created in 2007 to take diverse students and educate them on legal topics as well as practical advice for getting into and paying for college.  Thirty students have taken part in the program and virtually every participant has gone on to college.  The program has been so successful that Farella Braun + Martel has made the curriculum available to other law firms wishing to make a similar contribution and several lessons have been adopted by the American Bar Association’s Law Day, an annual event designed to teach students about the legal system and its importance.
  • Internally, the firm has a diversity committee that includes the firm’s chair.  The firm also has a Women’s Leadership Committee connecting women with mentoring and networking opportunities inside and outside of the firm.  And the firm has a diversity outreach program which pairs diverse associates with clients to give the associates opportunities to build direct relationships with their clients.
  • To celebrate the firm’s 50th anniversary this year, the firm decided to donate $500,000 to various charities and challenged every one of its employees to volunteer 50 hours over the year to local charities, most of which serve diverse communities.

Farella Braun + Martel was not the largest law firm to be considered for the first Dell Legal Diversity Award, but their actions speak volumes on their commitment to diversity.  They have truly set the bar for other firms, both small and large, to show the importance and value they place on diversity.  More than that, they show what a group can do when they value diversity and how those efforts can benefit both the community and the firm.

Please join me in congratulating Farella Braun + Martel on this award.