Top Company 2010: Kutak Rock
A firm that specializes in corporate law might not sound like fertile ground for innovation, but Kutak Rock LLP isn't like most corporate law firms.
Renowned for hiring and promoting women, it extended benefits to domestic partners 10 years ago, supported flexible work schedules long before it was professionally correct and quietly gives away thousands of dollars to nonprofits each year - all a reflection of the life philosophy and legacy of co-founder Robert Kutak.
"He believed in affording everyone an opportunity to contribute and rewarding exemplary work," Managing Partner Robert Irvin says. "As a result, we have a diverse work force where everyone can thrive and utilize their strengths to benefit our clients and themselves."
That means hiring female attorneys and giving them the opportunity to advance. Today, Kutak Rock has one of the highest ratios of female partners among national law firms at 26 percent. The firm has worked just as hard to increase diversity, which Irvin considers one of its greatest accomplishments.
"As a result of our strategic planning and efforts over the past 10 years, we've seen a significant increase in the number of women and minority attorneys across all levels," he says.
Today, minority partners represent 6 percent of all partners, a 100 percent increase in just five years. The number of minority associates has risen by nearly 50 percent, and women associates by 15 percent.
A spirit of teamwork and creativity has been one of the firm's signatures since its founding in 1965. Robert Kutak, who died in 1983, is often considered a pioneer in the creation of the national law firm, opening offices in Denver, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. in 1977.
"While it may be commonplace now, it was unheard of back then," Irvin says.
The firm now has about 400 lawyers in 16 cities across the nation specializing in corporate law, corporate and public finance and litigation. It prides itself on offering its clients personalized service and pricing that is competitive with other Denver practices, along with the resources of a national firm.
"In terms of economics, the last year and a half has been difficult for law firms," Irvin says. "There's been a decrease in business transactional work generally, and at the same time, clients are more price sensitive. We work hard to assist our clients to achieve their desired result and not waste their money on posturing and unimportant issues."
Kutak Rock exhibits the same kind of zeal when it comes to giving back, something that Robert Kutak considered a top priority. The firm donates more than $100,000 a year to 50 nonprofits and hosts dozens of charity fundraisers; employees serve on boards of nonprofits and volunteer their time.
"From organizing blood drives to collecting packages for the troops overseas, we believe in giving back," Irvin says.
The firm gives back to employees as well, offering flexible work arrangements and opportunities "without bias or barriers," he says.
"We have many people," Irvin says, "who have been with the firm for their entire professional careers."