Finnegan understands that by cultivating a work environment of respect and inclusion for individuals from many backgrounds, we position ourselves to:
offer the most creative perspectives to our broad and diverse client base;
attract and retain the finest talent; and
grow through the diverse cultures within our walls
Our strategy of enhancing diversity and inclusion includes, but is not limited to, internal and external initiatives that focus on recruiting, retention, a supportive infrastructure, professional association involvement, and community relations. We don’t just value diversity, we live it every day in thought, approach, and solutions.
Recruiting and Pipeline Initiatives
Finnegan hallmarks are many, but the one that defines us most clearly is that we focus on the practice of intellectual property (IP) law. This means over 90 percent of our attorney recruits possess some sort of science or engineering background. Of Finnegan’s nearly 300 professionals possessing a science or engineering degree, more than 60 have a doctorate in a technical field. Workplace statistics show that women, Black, and Hispanic professionals continue to be underrepresented in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce. Through a range of initiatives, Finnegan works creatively and aggressively to recruit, as well as support, extraordinary and diverse professionals. The firm’s success and growth are proof of the benefits of a collaborative culture that supports a range of initiatives to attract diverse talent.
The Finnegan Diversity Scholarship, established in 2003, awards law school student applicants $15,000 per year for tuition and law school fees, as well as an offer to join the firm’s summer associate program. Nearly $465,000 has been awarded since inception of the scholarship.
Finnegan is an annual contributor to the Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in IP Law (formerly the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation), which aims to increase the pipeline of underrepresented minority attorneys in IP law. The organization’s corporate and law firm supporters collaborate to provide mentoring and financial support to current and prospective minority law school students interested in pursuing a career in IP.
Finnegan has been a long-time supporter of the Hispanic National Bar Association and Vision in Action’s IP Law Institute (IPLI), which launched in 2013 in partnership with Microsoft Corporation. Today, the IPLI partnership includes Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Lenovo. With a goal of addressing underrepresentation of Hispanics in IP law, this initiative immerses annually approximately 30 Latinx law students with key members of the federal judiciary and administrative agencies, legal scholars, and attorneys in IP and tech law. The firm’s support of the organization not only provides us an opportunity to mentor, advise, and expose the students to various facets of IP law, it also allows us an opportunity to have intimate and early access to Hispanic talent interested in IP.
We actively recruit minority, women, and LGBTQ+ attorneys through on-campus interviews at law schools across the country and at various diversity-focused job fairs, such as the Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference and Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, the Mid-Atlantic Black Law Student Association (BLSA) Job Fair, the Southeastern Minority Job Fair, and the Howard University On-Campus Recruitment Program.
Our recruiting efforts include direct outreach to women, LGBTQ+, Latino, African American, and Asian student organizations on law school campuses. This interaction provides students with an interest in IP to learn more about Finnegan and, more broadly, about careers in IP law.
Typically, more than half of our summer associate programs are comprised of women or minority students.
Development, Retention, and Advancement
Finnegan has instituted or is affiliated with a number of programs that target retention, professional and business development, and promotion of our women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ colleagues. The firm works diligently and creatively to hone existing programs and develop new ones to ensure that our attorneys and administrative professionals are given a competitive edge when it makes promotional decisions. A partial list of the programs is below.
L.E.A.P.: (Learn, Enrich, Achieve, Progress) Program - Our firm has a robust training curriculum that is designed to support the continued growth and development of attorneys at all levels. Finnegan believes that training and ongoing education are essential to developing the best attorneys and advocates for our clients. With multiple training and education components, L.E.A.P. is designed to enhance the firm’s existing training and mentoring activities throughout the year. This highly ranked program arms our team with the tools and resources necessary to practice law in an ever-evolving legal and business market.
The L.E.A.P. calendar includes the following programs: litigation training, advanced legal writing, advanced patent prosecution, practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), advanced technical and legal research, business development training and individualized coaching, billing and timekeeping, budget development, accounting for lawyers, persuasive speaking, law firm economics, presentation skills, leadership, management, and delegation.
Mentoring - A truly diverse environment is one in which everyone is a teacher—and also a learner. This philosophy is the basis of the mentorship program at Finnegan. All of our new lawyers are paired with a senior associate and partner advisor who share similar interests and backgrounds. Our collegial nature ensures that doors are always open, and questions—no matter the nature—are always answered. In addition to our long-established partner advisor-associate mentee program, the firm established a diversity mentor program in 2010 to address more closely the specific needs of diverse attorneys.
Diverse Attorney Sponsorship Program - In 2020, the firm started a formal sponsorship program for diverse attorneys. The program is designed to further support the development, retention, and advancement of select diverse attorneys within the firm. As participants advance within the firm, they are paired to draw on the invaluable knowledge and influence of those in the highest levels of leadership within the firm (Management/Compensation Committees and Practice Group Leaders).
Diversity Secondments - Secondments offer invaluable opportunities for diverse attorneys to build client relationships. Having a first-hand look at the culture within a client’s organization, as well as its business operations and risks, positions the attorney to devise solutions that work best for the client.
Mansfield Rule - In 2018, the firm became one of 65 law firms nationwide participating in this program modeled after the Rooney Rule, which calls for increased diversity in the National Football League’s coaching ranks. As a Mansfield Rule adopter, we publicly commit to considering a diverse slate of candidates for purposes of recruitment, promotion, and leadership to include:
Equity Partner Promotions
Lateral Partner and Mid/Senior-Level Associate Searches
Practice Group & Office Head Leadership
Executive Committee and/or Board of Directors
Partner Promotions/Nominations Committee
Chairperson and/or Managing Partner
Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) - An organization comprised of corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners committed to increasing diversity in the legal Finnegan is a supporting member. Additionally, the firm annually sponsors one attorney in the LCLD Fellow program, which offers law firms a year-long professional development opportunity for one high- potential minority attorney. We also annually sponsor two diverse attorneys in LCLD’s Pathfinder program, which helps participants understand career development strategies and provides tools for developing professional networks and leadership skills.
Charting Your Own Course (CYOC) Conference - A unique, external program that specifically targets the development of attorneys of Finnegan encourages and offers financial support for participation by diverse attorneys. The firm sends numerous attorneys of color annually.
Heritage Month Celebrations - The internal Finnegan family is quite diverse, comprised of individuals from a wide array of backgrounds, cultures, races, and ethnicities. A few times a year, we stop to celebrate a few of these heritages: Black History Month, Women’s History, Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Pride Month, Diwali Festival of Lights, and Hispanic Heritage Month. Celebratory events have included inventors, speakers, poets, community service events, and cultural enactments. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for the entire firm to learn more about these cultures, as well as their histories and accomplishments in IP and in America.
Finnegan supports the formation of affinity groups, which provide a space for mentoring, connecting, personal and professional development, and business development among those with common interests. Currently, the firm has six formal affinity groups, which are listed below along with their co-chairs.
Finnegan FORWARD -Finnegan FORWARD (Focused on Raising Women’s Advancement, Representation, and Development) is Finnegan’s women’s business initiative. It focuses on several key initiatives to address issues impacting female attorneys in IP and advertising and marketing law. These initiatives include business development opportunities and how to overcome the challenges of developing a book of business, marketing and recruiting efforts to acknowledge the difficulties of retaining high-performing women, and education and training for continued support of our women attorneys and their leadership opportunities in IP and advertising law, firm governance, and STEM-related fields.
Women’s Forum - Established in 2006, the Women’s Forum serves the mentoring, networking, and educational needs of the firm’s women. It coordinates discussions and presentations on topics including leadership, business development, mentoring, networking, setting and achieving professional goals, and pro bono work involving women. The Women's Forum plans formal and informal events (both social and educational) designed to empower our women and to enhance their professional and social relationships.
Finnegan looks for opportunities on an ongoing basis to improve policies, procedures, and support systems that help all of our employees succeed in their professional lives.
Several years ago, the firm established two part-time options (80 percent and 60 percent time), which provide attorneys (regardless of gender or parenthood status) with a continued path to partnership at the firm while working a reduced schedule.
We encourage support of diversity efforts by all attorneys. Those who contribute to the diversity and inclusion-related goals through mentoring, training, or other diversity initiatives receive nonbillable credit for such activities.
For more than 25 years, Finnegan has hosted an International Guest Program that has welcomed more than 225 professionals from around the world to work at the firm on a temporary basis. A significant number of our international guests are from Asia. We also offer Chinese language classes for attorneys who want to learn Mandarin.
Collaborations Impacting Social Justice
In addition to the good feeling one gets from helping others, giving back is also an opportunity to receive knowledge, expertise, and experience. Finnegan proudly supports, via human and financial resources, a number of efforts impacting marginalized communities, refugees, veterans, those wrongfully convicted, and others who may not be heard without our assistance. A small number of these efforts are listed below.
Institute for IP & Social Justice (IIPSJ) - Launched at historically Black college Howard University School of Law in 2003, the IIPSJ examines social justice implications around IP law and how that impacts marginalized communities. Finnegan has contributed significantly to the IIPSJ, with firm attorneys helping to shape the structure of the organization from its beginning and still participating today.
Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance (LFAA) - In 2020, the firm joined 100 firms in starting an alliance working to improve the “use of the law as a vehicle of change that benefits communities of color and to promote racial equity in the law.”
Veteran’s Assistance Program - Finnegan has one of the most, if not the most, extensive pro bono programs serving the needs of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. More than 85 attorneys and staff participate in Finnegan’s pro bono program serving disabled military The program focuses on appeals in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. We review approximately 300 prescreened Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) decisions each year. Since the program commenced in July 2008, the firm has handled approximately 900 appeals.
Asylum Representation Program - One of our longest-established pro bono efforts, this program provides assistance to refugees who have fled their home country for racial, religious, ethnic, political, or social reasons and are now facing deportation from the United States.
Innocence Project - The Innocence Project aims to reform the criminal justice system by using DNA testing to exonerate those who were wrongfully convicted. Sometimes, our justice system gets it wrong, leaving many of the wrongfully convicted behind bars for many years or even decades. Thankfully, there are organizations continually working to right these injustices. Finnegan is grateful to work with one such organization, both nationally and locally.
Advancing Inclusion and Equality - The unthinkable, tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, ignited a global outcry for change. In the wake of these events, Finnegan and its employees donated to three organizations moving the needle toward advancing justice: Color of Change, Equal Justice Initiative, and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Many of these efforts are through our robust pro bono program. To learn more about additional efforts in the program, please visit the firm’s pro bono page here.
Finnegan supports, sponsors, and/or participates in numerous organizations aiming to (1) increase diversity and inclusion in IP law and the legal industry; (2) provide crucial leadership, development, and networking opportunities for diverse attorneys; and (3) advance justice for those in marginalized communities. Some of the organizations we support are listed below.
American Bar Association
American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in Intellectual Property Law (formerly the American Intellectual Property Law Educational Foundation)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, DC Area (APABA-DC)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley (APABA-SV)
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC)
Association of Corporate Counsel Foundation
Charting Your Own Course (CYOC) Conference
Color of Change
Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC)
Diversity & Flexibility Alliance (formerly the Project for Attorney Retention)
Equal Justice Initiative
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
George Washington University Law School Lambda Networking Reception
Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)
Intellectual Property Owners Association
Just the Beginning Foundation (JTBF)
Leadership Conference on Human and Civil Rights
Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD)
Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys (LIWOCA)
Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
National Bar Association (NBA)
National LGBTQ Bar Association’s Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
Modern Military Association of America (MMAA)
South Asian Bar Association (SABA)
University of Texas Center for Women in Law (CWIL)
Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF)
Women’s Bar Association of DC (WBA)
Recent Awards and Recognitions
Finnegan is proud to consistently be recognized as one of the nation’s top law firms for diversity. Recent accolades include:
Mansfield 3.0 Certification Plus (2020) - Diversity Lab
Best Law Firms for Women (2020) - Working Mother
Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality (2020) - Human Rights Campaign
Top 20 of 100 for Overall Diversity (2020) - The American Lawyer
“Best Law Firms for Diversity" (2021) - Vault Guide