As diverse young lawyers join the ranks at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, a changing vision of the future is taking shape — one that bucks stereotypes of what the legal industry looks like.
With five new female attorneys coming on board in June, the St. Louis-based law firm’s associate-level staff is now 70 percent women. And three of those new hires are women of color, adding to the firm’s continuing efforts to promote diversity at all levels. Nearly 28 percent of Greensfelder’s junior-level attorneys – those classified as associates – are lawyers of color, helping to raise the number firm-wide to more than 12 percent.
Diversity is important to Greensfelder and its clients, said J. Danielle Carr, Greensfelder’s director of professional development and inclusion, because having a variety of perspectives on a legal team can open the door to innovative thinking, strategy and solutions. Such differentiated thought might not be gained from a team that shares similar upbringings and socioeconomic backgrounds.
In recent years, the firm elected its first African-American and Hispanic shareholders, and at the senior-level officer ranks, the addition of Rick Meza, who served as the former and first Hispanic executive inspector general for the state of Illinois, is a feather in Greensfelder’s hat.
“Recruiting efforts have been successful in part because we have a diverse team of attorneys and professionals as part of the recruiting team,” Carr said. “We have also been fortunate in that the firm has been able to attract incredibly talented attorneys.”
Carr said nearly all open positions attract at least one qualified candidate of color who is considered and that new policies for how jobs are publicized have helped reach a wider pool of top-caliber attorneys. Working with high schools and colleges to show students opportunities in the legal profession should help expand the future talent pool, she said.
The firm is part of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, a nationwide group of chief legal officers and law firm managing partners who aim to improve diversity from the top down. Greensfelder attorneys are also active in local groups including the Mound City Bar Association, the Missouri Asian American Bar Association (MAABA) and the Hispanic Bar Association. Four members of Mound City’s executive board are Greensfelder attorneys and one Greensfelder attorney helps lead MAABA.
Greensfelder was named among the “100 Best Law Firms for Female Attorneys” by one of the legal industry’s top publications, Law360. The rankings were based on the firm’s female representation at the partner and non-partner levels, as well as the total number of female attorneys. Across the firm, 39 percent of attorneys are women.