McKool Smith is the proud home of a team of top-notch lawyers who, without limitation, celebrate diversity and the creativity and innovation it promotes. The firm understands the value of collaboration among lawyers with a range of backgrounds and experiences and the synergies gained by drawing from a variety of perspectives. Our commitment to hiring and retaining a diverse team enables us to provide superior service to our clients in a workplace where elite trial attorneys attain the highest level of professional satisfaction.
Communicating with juries is at the heart of what we do, and no two jurors are the same. Top to bottom, McKool Smith has taken steps to ensure, that our lawyers can make connections where it matters most, that we reflect the communities we serve, and that diversity is woven into every stitch of the firm’s fabric. Together. Stronger.
Diversity is a core value and a force multiplier. Study after study has shown that diverse teams perform better, irrespective of industry or geography. Diverse companies attract top talent, enjoy greater employee retention, and elevate decision making and customer service to achieve better results. It’s how you win.
As outlined in our Diversity Policy, McKool Smith is committed to recruiting, retaining, and promoting a diverse team of lawyers and legal professionals and fostering a culture of inclusion. To honor this commitment, our Diversity Committee is charged with ensuring the continuous improvement of the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts and oversees the administration of our Diversity Action Plan, which features strategies to help meet these goals. The action plan includes mandates for:
- Monitoring and promoting the Diversity Policy;
- Communicating the firm’s diversity initiatives internally and externally;
- Focusing on inclusion, mentoring and diverse staffing on client matters;
- Enhancing our diversity recruiting efforts for both law students and laterals; and
- Improving, expanding, and promoting our relationships with organizations supporting the interests and advancement of minorities, women, and other communities that are underrepresented in the legal industry.
In January 2020, McKool Smith retained Coston Consulting, a certified minority/Black-owned business advisory firm, to oversee development and implementation of the firm’s diversity initiatives in collaboration with the Diversity Committee. Michael Coston, the firm’s CEO, acts as McKool Smith’s external diversity & inclusion officer.
McKool Smith is a proud member of the Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity (LCLD) and a longtime supporter of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. The firm supports Texas Competes, which presses the business case for the fair treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, and the UCLA Williams Institute, which is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. (In 2017, the firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of UCLA to support spousal benefits for LGBTQ+ marriages.) We also regularly support diversity-promoting organizations and associations, including the South Asian Bar Association, Austin Asian American Bar Association, the Texas Minority Counsel Program, the Dallas Hispanic Law Foundation, the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, and the Austin Bar Diversity Fellowship, among others.
Relationship principals are charged with monitoring matter staffing to ensure that our teams are as diverse as possible. Our diverse lawyers are visible to and routinely engage with our clients. Our marketing and business development professionals also regularly collaborate with the Diversity Committee to ensure that diverse lawyers have substantive roles in our client development efforts. These professional development opportunities are reported to the Managing Principal and reviewed by the firm’s Diversity Committee.
McKool Smith knows that the search for the best legal talent does not end at OCI, so we participate in diversity job fairs, diversity-related events at law schools, and various regional events to meet students from a range of backgrounds who could be future lawyers at our firm. A few examples of the many programs we have sponsored and participated in are the Southwest Black Law Students Association (SWBLSA) Moot Court Competition, “Diversity Week” at Southern Methodist University (SMU), the Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair of the National LGBT Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society Distinguished Member Scholarship at the University of Texas (UT) School of Law.
McKool Smith also offers Diversity Scholarships for up to $30,000 to first and second year law students who are students of color, members of the LGBTQ+, differently abled, or veteran communities, or whose background or experience would otherwise contribute to the diversity of the legal profession.
When working with search consultants and scouting for talent, we reiterate our desire to meet and recruit candidates who are racial and ethnic minorities, openly LGBTQ+, women and other diverse candidates. In 2018, we expanded our lateral recruiting efforts by retaining leading consultants who specialize in the recruitment of diverse attorneys.
Training, Mentoring & Professional Development
McKool Smith is a preeminent trial firm, consistently ranked among the Top 20 in the nation by Benchmark Litigation. We provide the training ground for young attorneys to hone their skills as part of a deep bench of accomplished trial lawyers. We believe that associates become trial lawyers by cutting their teeth early. Our associates take and defend depositions, draft and argue summary judgment motions, and examine witnesses at trial. They also learn best practices for effective courtroom advocacy, interacting with opposing counsel, and developing a case from start to finish. In 2019, the firm’s formal associate training program was expanded to include more diverse faculty and additional training sessions to cover cultural awareness and other diversity-related topics.
Women’s Leadership Development Forum
Our Women’s Leadership Development Forum launched in 2014 to provide leadership training and to promote the advancement of women lawyers at McKool Smith. The program started as a two-day retreat where our women lawyers participated in presentations and workshops focused on career advancement, trial skills, and other professional development topics. Over the years, the program has expanded to include quarterly roundtables featuring senior principals and guest speakers. Topics have included effective communication, mentoring, client development and personal branding, among others. The firm has also sponsored our lawyers’ annual participation in ALM’s premier industry conference Women, Influence & Power in Law as well as a Women’s Executive Accelerator Program, which provides personal coaching sessions twice monthly and prepares participants for leadership roles in the firm.
Implicit Bias Workshops
In 2018, we retained Welcome Change LLC, a minority-owned consulting firm that specializes in leadership, career development, and diversity and inclusion training, to provide unconscious bias training to the firm’s principals. In 2019, the program was expanded to include all firm attorneys and is mandatory for all firm lawyers, as is anti-sexual harassment training.