Diversity, equity, and inclusion are a top priority for Meunier Carlin & Curfman. We strive for creating a culture of belonging so that all of our employees feel encouraged to share their ideas, thoughts, and needs and can bring their whole selves to their work. Belonging allows us to focus our energy on being creative, developing our potential as individuals and as a team, and engaging in strategic problem solving.
We are committed to learning and sharing best practices with our employees, our clients, and our larger community.
Our goals for 2023 include:
- Inclusivity: Center voices of color in the firm by practicing and building equitable conversation skills, listening skills, and conflict resolution skills in the context of conversations about race. We also seek to create opportunities for Black women and other underrepresented people to speak and lead.
- Diversity: Recruit and hire underrepresented candidates in professional and leadership positions. We are committed to ensuring that at least 30% of the candidates that we consider for hiring and promotion are from underrepresented groups. We are also committed to ensuring that at least 30% of the people considered for client presentations and to participate in new client pitches are from underrepresented groups.
- Equity: Retain and consider for advancement people of color and other underrepresented people at our firm, including setting goals for advancing and providing opportunities for women of color and other underrepresented groups.
As part of our efforts, we have launched a firmwide conversation series led by iChange Collaborative, with whom MCC has been working for almost three years on our DEI initiatives. The series includes quarterly themes of Envisioning Equity, What Justice Looks Like, Cultivating Relationships Across Difference, and Sustaining Our DEI Work. Each quarter, our affinity groups and awareness education groups meet with facilitators to process questions around these themes, and the entire firm is invited to meet with facilitators in a quarterly workshop to discuss these themes together These meetings provide opportunities to learn from each other and the facilitators, share thoughts about what each affinity group wants or needs from the awareness education groups, and share perspectives and suggestions regarding the firm’s DEI efforts.
We continue to evaluate our hiring, promotional, and evaluation practices to identify ways to combat implicit bias, such as by focusing on behavioral questions and criteria and alignment with our firm’s values.
We actively seek underrepresented attorney candidates through our recruiting process by participating with the Atlanta Bar Association’s Minority & Diversity Clerkship Program and Diversity Lab’s OnRamp 2000 program. We are also gathering information about schools and organizations that are more likely to yield underrepresented candidates that we can consider hiring as patent agents or scientific advisors. We also fund a portion of the tuition for the patent agents and scientific advisors and that want to earn a law degree while working part-time.
Meunier Carlin & Curfman is one of twenty-three firms that piloted the Midsize Firm Mansfield Rule Certification for firms with 25 to 99 attorneys for the 2020-2022 cohort. We are participating in this program again for 2022-2023. Named after the first woman admitted to legal practice in the United States, the Mansfield Rule requires law firms to take measurable steps to increase the representation of historically underrepresented lawyers in leadership. The certification requires that 30% or more people that the firm considers for hiring, equity partner, managing partner, other firm governance roles, and in teams working to develop business with current and potential clients, be from underrepresented groups.
Additional diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives for 2023 include:
- Continue to coach attorneys and agents on behavioral based questions to ask candidates during interviews to avoid bias and assess and update our questions, as needed.
- Continue to utilize a behavioral based rubric for assessing candidates for hiring. This rubric was created for hiring in all areas of the firm – attorneys, agents, and staff.
- Firmwide programming each month around celebrating different cultures and backgrounds.
- Meet monthly with small groups of employees to build culture and trust among the team. Groups of three people are randomly assigned together for a quarter, and the group spends 30 minutes each month meeting and talking through a list of questions related to a particular theme.
- Monthly meetings with the DEI committee. Each quarter, iChange Collaborative will meet with the committee to set goals, track progress, consider themes from discussions in the affinity and education groups, and develop DEI leadership.
- Continue to review and update self-identification form for new hires to voluntarily share demographic information, as needed. The form was updated in 2021 to reflect the demographic information requested by clients and is more inclusive than earlier forms.
- Volunteer for speaking engagements and other volunteer opportunities that support law firms and organizations in (1) how they can support DEI efforts within their groups and among inventors at their organizations and (2) encouraging women and other underrepresented groups to get involved with STEM and/or IP.
- Identify schools and organizations that serve underrepresented groups as potential community partners. Engage in speaking to students about IP careers and receiving job posts for IP careers.
- Form a book club for employees that want further education about DEI topics.