Affinity and Employee Resource Groups Leadership Structures

Date updated: 5 February 2019

Norton Rose Fulbright
  • 1-3 partners are Chairs of each affinity group
  • 1-3 Associates or Counsel are Vice Chairs of each affinity group
  • We select them based on their enthusiasm and interest in leading the group.
Ogletree We have 6 business resource groups – 3 for racially diverse attorneys, 1 for women attorneys, 1 for LGBT attorneys and one for attorneys returning to work after a caregiver related absence.  For most of our groups, recommendations were made about who should lead and firm leadership signed off on those recommendations.  We don’t have a set number of leaders. Some groups have 3, some have 2 and some are led by 1 person. They leaders are both partners and associates.
Polsinelli We have 5 RGs at Polsinelli.  The women attorney group has 350-400 members so there is a national lead (woman equity partner that sits on the BOD) and 1-2 (depending on size of the office) office leads and liaisons to the national committee. For the attorney of color RGs there is one partner that leads each group.
Kilpatrick We have two leaders of each group.  One leader must be a partner. Associates generally serve as co-leads, unless the entire demographic group does not have a partner or there is not a partner who can take the lead. The Managing Partner and Chief Diversity Officer make the appointments.
Fish & Richardson We have a principal (partners) and an associate as co-chairs of our affinity groups.
Foley The Chief Diversity + Inclusion Partner approves all affinity group lead positions.  Each group’s leadership structure varies.  It is important to note that we have 20 U.S. offices and the only local office level group are the women and everyone else meets together.  All affinity group leads sit on the Diversity + Inclusion Action Council.

  • National Women’s Network- Leader is a partner and each office has a coordinator(s) depending on the size of the office.  Coordinators are at all levels.  There is a bi-monthly call with all coordinators to report the activities of each office and discuss how to impact change on a national level.
  • LGBTQA Affinity Group- Co-led by two partners, one being the Chief Diversity + Inclusion Partner.  Recently started rotating different members to lead the call so it is not always the lead.
  • African-American Affinity Group- Led by a partner, who is also an Office Managing Partner.
  • Hispanic-American Affinity Group- Led by a partner.
  • Asian-American Affinity Group- Led by a partner and an associate.
Morgan, Lewis We have two to three influential partner co-leads and one associate representative.  They are selected by firm leadership.
Ballard Spahr Some are led by associates, others by partners and others a mix.  We always try to have 2 leaders of each affinity group, one on each coast.  We only select associates that are primed for partnership as this is a way to build their exposure to firm leadership and help develop their leadership skills.  Our Women’s Initiative has 2 associates and 2 partner leads. Except for our women’s initiative, all affinity groups report to the Diversity Council, by way of the Chief Diversity Officer. The Senior Diversity Coordinator provides administrative support.
Jenner & Block Our firm usually has 1 partner and 1 associate leading each affinity group overall, but have had 2 partners lead in groups where the associate was elevated to partner. In offices where we have a significant presence, we’ve also had 1 partner and 2 associates. For example our LGBT Forum has 2 associates, 2 junior partners and 2 senior partners who are emeritus chairs. We adopted this structure after one co-chair was promoted to partner, and to bring in a new generation of leadership to learn from very senior chairs.

In our smaller offices, we built a Multicultural Affinity Group, for all lawyers of a racial/ethnic minority to meet together, instead of being a very small chapter of the larger affinity group. This has caused some confusion for those who identify as multiracial or who opt into one affinity group and not both, but overall has been a very positive change.

Dentons and Other At prior firm, the Affinity Groups were led by 2 associates and each group had either (1) or (2) partner supervisor(s). That structure gave the associates visibility throughout the firm and helped them develop leadership skills. At my current firm, the Affinity Groups are (currently) led by partners. I have only been here for 2 months but I’m hoping to change this structure.
White & Case Partner and associate co-chair

Associates per office are encouraged to take the lead but have no official roles

Fried Frank We have four Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Each lead by four associate co-chairs (two representing the NY office, one from DC, and one from London). Some ERG groups have informal partner advisors.