Celebrating 50 Years and Looking Ahead to What's Next in the Legal Industry
Reflections from the managing partner of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck after a half-century of work
Celebrating 50 years for any business is an impressive feat. Norm Brownstein, Jack Hyatt and Steve Farber had no idea what the future would hold when they opened their law firm in Denver in 1968. During the past five decades, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has seen an evolution within the legal industry as well as periods of economic recession and incredible growth, including expansion into new markets and practices. The values that the three founders practiced daily – “All In, Excellence, Respect and Giving Back” – are, today, our companywide shared values, and serve as the foundation for everything we do as a firm.
Terms like “corporate social responsibility” and “corporate citizenship” didn’t exist in 1968. The firm’s founders were ahead of their time when they chose to make philanthropy an integral part of the firm. In the early days, our founders served on nonprofit boards, were actively involved in civic causes and provided pro bono legal services as part of their commitment to the community.
Fifty years later, giving back remains one of our core values, and we’re proud to continue the philanthropic legacy they began. Today, nearly 70 percent of our attorneys and policy professionals serve on nonprofit boards. We annually provide more than 10,000 hours of pro bono legal and policy services to organizations and individuals who otherwise would not have access to legal counsel. More than 400 volunteers participate in our Karma Volunteer Program each year, and we are proud to support hundreds of nonprofit organizations with sponsorships and donations totaling more than $1 million annually.
As part of our commitment to community, Brownstein partnered with the Diversity Lab in 2017 to launch the “Mansfield Rule” pilot program to improve diversity and inclusion within the legal industry. Named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman admitted to the practice of law in the U.S., the Mansfield Program is often referred to as the next generation of the Rooney Rule, a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs. The inaugural Mansfield Rule required that participating law firms consider women and attorneys of color (as 30 percent of the applicable candidate pool at least 70 percent of the time) for leadership and governance opportunities, partner promotions and senior lateral hires. Brownstein joined more than 40 of the nation’s leading law firms and corporate legal departments in taking this pledge.
We recently achieved Mansfield Rule Certification for 2018 from the Diversity Lab, coinciding with the firm’s 50th anniversary celebration. As we strive to be a leader and innovator within the legal industry and our communities when it comes to matters of diversity, achieving Mansfield Certification is a great step toward that goal. I’m proud of this recognition and appreciate the hard work and dedication from Brownstein’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and Gender Diversity Task Force in paving the way to Mansfield Certification in its inaugural year. Also this year, American Lawyer ranked Brownstein No. 8 in the country for firms with the highest percentage of female equity partners. We are furthering our commitment to diversity by signing on to pilot the Mansfield Rule 2.0 in 2019, which will include LGBTQ+ lawyers in addition to women and attorneys of color.
Today, it is well-established that companies committed to gender and ethnic diversity and corporate citizenship are more likely to have above average profitability, typically outperform their competitors and are better positioned to be innovators in their field. At Brownstein, we have seen these results in our own business, and they support the maxim that businesses can do well by doing good.
Adam Agron is a managing partner at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.