Under this new policy, all timekeepers can annually designate up to 50 hours of work and activities related to DE&I, WINRS and the firm’s Racial Equity Action Plan as billable time.
The 50 hours of diversity-related leadership, advocacy, training and development will count toward the firm’s existing 140 hours of billable credit for non-billable work. This policy takes effect immediately and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021.
“Building an inclusive culture is integral to our business and should be rewarded and incentivized, not left to chance,” said Global Managing Partner Sandy Thomas. “Diversity is an area where Reed Smith has always been a leader in the legal industry, and this new policy is a real investment behind our own commitment and goals.”
The DE&I, REAP and WINRS work and activities that qualify for credit include:
- Leading or organizing events, activities or projects;
- Serving in a leadership role on firm committees or sub-committees;
- Developing or delivering training programs related to diversity or gender issues;
- Presenting at, or preparing materials for use in, diversity- and gender-related programs;
- Attending training programs or conferences related to diversity or gender issues;
- Participating in Reed Smith’s reverse mentoring program, or serving as a mentor or sponsor in an effort to support diverse talent; and,
- Participating in client-sponsored or promoted diversity- and gender-related activities.
Last year, Reed Smith established a REAP, a 36-member committee to champion the cause of racial equity and marshal the firm’s efforts to make a real and positive impact within Reed Smith and the communities in which it operates. The firm’s goals include a 50% increase of Black lawyers, improvement of Black lawyer and staff attrition rates and an increase in the percentage of Black leadership in the firm, by 2024.
The idea for diversity credit originated from several sources, including a hackathon conducted by the firm’s DE&I leaders and suggestions from associates. The recommendation appeared in a report published last year after the firm launched REAP.
The billable-hours credit for diversity-related work builds on the firm’s efforts to provide its lawyers wide-ranging training and development to advance their careers. As stated above, timekeepers may devote up to 140 hours of non-billable work toward billable credit each calendar year. Non-billable hours can be used in a variety of ways, such as for pro bono legal service and developing innovation projects that support the firm and clients. Through the firm’s award-winning Associate Life initiative, associates can devote a portion of that 140 hours to “on-the-job” development activities, such as attending depositions or transaction closings.
“This policy enhances our robust Associate Life initiative,” said Casey Ryan, Reed Smith’s Global Head of Legal Personnel. “Working on diversity initiatives provides an opportunity to lead on issues of import, build leadership skills and make connections, all experiences that benefit associates in the development of their lawyering and other professional skills.”