Terry Conner Discusses Models for Recruiting Diverse Attorneys at DBA’s Diversity Summit


DALLAS – Haynes and Boone, LLP Managing Partner Terry Conner recently shared his philosophy on the firm’s models for recruiting and retaining diverse attorneys at the Dallas Bar Association Diversity Summit on Nov. 29, 2012.

During the panel session, Conner stressed the goal of promoting diverse lawyers into partnership and leadership positions, through mentoring, career planning, and accountability, and stated that good promotion results are not only supported by, but also support, good recruiting and retention.

“Doing the same thing the same old way is not sufficient,” Conner said. “It’s one thing to have a plan; another to actually succeed.”

At the firm, partners are paired up with new attorneys to help enhance their professional development and to serve as a mentor to them, whether it be creating opportunities or providing feedback.

Conner went on to describe the firm’s new practice group report card, which analyzes diversity statistics such as hiring, retention, promotion to partnership, partnership pipeline and workload allocation. This tool helps practice group leaders identify areas for improvement.

Additionally, Conner focused on the firm’s Pipeline Initiatives, which address college-to-law school, high school graduation and college readiness topics. “To help increase the number of minority law school students and graduates, we need to provide more educational opportunities for at-risk kids,” he said.

Conner also described several of the firm’s other diversity initiatives, such as the Minority Scholars Program, which provides select minority law students at several law schools with scholarships and summer associate clerkships with the firm, and the Black Law Student Association recruiting initiative, which actively seeks a broader range of talent for summer clerkships.

In addition to recruiting initiatives, the firm also focuses on retention programs such as the Minority Attorney Retreat, a biennial two-day event for all firm minority attorneys, members of the board of directors, and select clients. The retreat provides attendees with insight from clients and prominent community business members on how diversity affects business, relationships with outside counsel and how it informs their decision-making process. The program provides an open environment for discussing sensitive and critical topics, as well as an opportunity for diverse attorneys to have part in shaping the firm’s diversity efforts.

The firm’s educational initiatives and other programs aimed at bolstering minority recruiting and retention are overseen by the Haynes and Boone Attorney Diversity Committee (ADC), which is comprised of 60 attorneys and members of management who meet once a month to advance the firm’s diversity efforts, such as the Minority Associate Sponsor Program, the Minority Attorney Retreat and the Women’s Leadership Academy. The ADC has seven sub-committees including the Women Attorney Initiatives, Minority Attorney Initiatives, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Attorney Initiatives, Recruiting/Retention, Pipeline, Working Parents and Business Development.

Conner was joined on the panel by Kevyn Orr of Jones Day’s Washington, D.C. office and Stanley Stallworth of Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago.

Stallworth lamented that retaining minority lawyers has become increasingly more difficult and that traditional mentoring programs had proven ineffective. Young minority attorneys have to be given the opportunity to do meaningful work with partners who have very large books of business, he said.

Orr said his firm has had to broaden its recruiting efforts to include historically black institutions and less prestigious law schools in order to keep its minority numbers up. “Everybody is out there looking for Barack Obama,” he said.

In the photo from left to right: Terry Conner, managing partner at Haynes and Boone; Kevyn Orr, partner at Jones Day and Stanley Stallworth, partner at Sidley Austin LLP. 

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