Spilman will never stop striving to achieve a more diverse workplace. The pursuit of diversity is not merely the right thing to do; we know that diverse teams produce greater results. When it comes to diversity, our philosophy is that there is no finish line.
Supporting Minorities in the Practice of Law
Spilman is dedicated to supporting minorities in the practice of law. That support has been demonstrated in various forms, including financial support of minority scholarships, bar dues, job fairs, seminars, mentoring programs and research projects. We are involved with several law school minority hiring programs. We also have hired local minority high school students as summer interns to encourage them to attend college and, ultimately, law school.
In addition to the mentoring all associates receive at Spilman, the firm has connected minority associates with successful professionals outside the firm, who share the same minority status. It is our goal to assist our minority lawyers in adjusting to professional life and provide them with networking opportunities.
In furtherance of our commitment to diversity, Spilman supports the following initiatives with monetary support, participation or leadership:
- Scholarships earmarked for minorities and women
- Internships earmarked for minorities and women
- MAGNET research study on regional diversity by Charleston Area Alliance
- The Hispanic National Bar Association
- The National Black Law Student Association
- The Diversity Law Institute
Supporting Women in the Practice of Law
Women hold important roles at Spilman. Women have served on our management committee; as Chair of our Litigation and Corporate Departments; as Associate and Paralegal Supervisors; as Co-Chair of Recruiting; and as client relationship managers for some of our most important clients. In addition, the firm's Executive Director is female. Across the spectrum of positions and the firm’s locations, Spilman takes great pride in the increasing number of women who hold leadership roles.
In 2012, Spilman worked in partnership with the Charleston Area Alliance to launch a regional study on diversity issues. As indicated by its title (the acronym “MAGNET”), this exciting and highly visible program was focused on exploring issues related to managing, attracting, and growing new and existing diverse talent. This research project was beneficial in terms of gathering new, quantitative and qualitative data regarding attitudes and opinions on diversity, image, place and recruiting within our region. From the data, a profile of the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in these areas was developed. Spilman was involved as a key partner, providing the primary funding and presenting the results (devoting pro-bono attorney hours and staff support to such efforts). Our firm will remain actively involved with the Charleston Area Alliance and its 600 members, as the region and its business leadership continue efforts to address weaknesses and overcome challenges while leveraging strengths. Spilman believes the MAGNET project was a springboard for regional focus and progress on diversity issues.
Spilman continues to offer a Women’s Professional Networking Series. These special events are intended to connect women for the purpose of expanding business and professional networks. Events are held at various locations around West Virginia, offering educational or social programming. Topics have included business etiquette, oenology, literature, leadership, and local sustainable agriculture. We believe that events like these, as part of our networking series, benefit Spilman’s women attorneys and the overall firm by providing a diverse forum for making valuable social and business connections, which will help to sustain the careers and enrich the lives of participants.
Supporting Diverse Work Arrangements in the Practice of Law
At Spilman, while we place significant emphasis upon our approach to diversity with respect to minorities and women, we believe that the conversation does not end there. We also recognize and accommodate diversity of work style to support our personnel in pursuit of work-life balance. On many occasions our firm has allowed and even encouraged Spilman attorneys to scale back to part-time or independent contractor status with proportional pay and proportional benefits. This “win-win” arrangement is beneficial, not only to the individual attorney, but also to the firm and to clients. Such flexible arrangements enable talented attorneys to tailor their workload in ways that allow them to balance the demands of work and family (or life outside work). These attorneys are welcome to return to the firm, as full-time or part-time attorneys, whenever they wish to do so.
Finally, we believe it is noteworthy to mention that Spilman “re-engineered” its career progression model a few years ago, abolishing the typical “up or out” career track paradigm. As part of our new Associate Development Program, the firm allows diverse attorneys to choose from a variety of practicing roles/statuses to balance professional expectations and demands with individual preferences and lifestyle needs.
Other Forms of Support
Additionally, we are proud to support the University of Charleston's Enlightened Living Days, held each year to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The event celebrates the university's mission of educating each student for a life of productive work, enlightened living and community involvement. Students take part in several activities during the day, including diversity conversations and breakout sessions on mindfulness, enrichment, diversity, race, religion, and other topics. Over the three days, the campus community will have access to panel discussions, keynote addresses, and films – rich content stressing important topics like mental health, societal privilege, justice, access to health care resources, implicit bias, and civil community engagement.
Also in partnership with the University of Charleston, Spilman sponsors and serves as mentors during the university's i3 event, a weeks-long event wherein students develop, build a business plan for, and make a judged presentation about an idea that is capable of being launched and monetized. The category Spilman's resources are devoted to is centered around developing important public initiatives that are geared toward improving social justice, access to healthcare, and/or race relations.