Obtaining great results originates from the ability to view issues from diverse perspectives…
That is CSG’s mantra – and it holds whether collaborating across legal disciplines or ethnicities, ages, religions, genders or sexual orientation. We value, and celebrate, the many perspectives our attorneys bring to bear, and remain committed to further diversifying the range of views and backgrounds brought to the table in serving our valued clients.
Building a diverse and inclusive workforce has been an important focus for CSG, as evidenced by the firm’s Women’s Initiative and Diversity & Inclusion Committee. These groups help shape the future of the firm by identifying, developing and enabling the next generation of leaders and providing mentorship, training and policy development initiatives that are invaluable to the firm.
As a result of the firm’s efforts to date, today, 32% of CSG’s partners are women, well above the national average for law firms nationwide (which is 22.7% according to the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession’s publication – A Current Glance at Women in the Law, April 2019). In addition, more than one-third of the firm’s practice groups are led by women and, over the past 18 months, the firm has successfully recruited many minority attorneys to its ranks including two minority partners who bring tremendous experience to their respective practice areas.
Diversity & Inclusion Committee
CSG’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee serves to support the recruitment, development and retention of qualified minority attorneys and professional staff. The Committee – chaired by Shirley U. Emehelu, former Chief of Asset Recovery and Anti-Money Laundering for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey – also recommends and implements key policies, programs and initiatives that foster inclusion among our employees.
Recruitment, Professional Development and Mentoring
The recruitment, development and mentorship of diverse attorneys are hallmarks of the firm’s diversity commitment. On the recruitment side, the firm has added 10 diverse attorneys and three diverse law clerks in just the last two years. The addition of lawyers at various stages of their careers, from seasoned partners to junior law clerks, provides opportunities for mentorship and professional development that are unique and valuable. The Diversity & Inclusion Committee plays an important part in facilitating these opportunities.
Professional development programming within the firm is highly customized, with monthly legal educational programs that are developed and presented by the firm’s lawyers covering a range of topics and disciplines – ultimately, rendering better-rounded and prepared attorneys and legal support staff. Many of these programs are presented by the firm’s women and diverse attorneys, providing them with the opportunity to expand their internal networks and presentation skills. In addition, many of these programs are converted into client seminars which are presented in-house for clients at no charge to provide continuing legal education and other credits as needed.
Business development programs and coaching help to provide the opportunity for attorneys to begin to build their practices, connect more effectively with their contacts and identify their personal action plans for future success. These efforts also include promoting the firm’s attorneys as thought leaders for speaking and writing opportunities with outside organizations.
Through the firm’s administrative structure, Practice Group Leaders are responsible for managing and developing the capabilities of lawyers in their group, which includes working closely with Client Relationship Managers to identify and build appropriate teams which include women and diverse attorneys. As a result, women and diverse attorneys serve as valuable team members on each of the firm’s top 20 matters for 2020. These teams feature diverse attorneys who bring their depth of substantive experience to bear – whether it be a former federal prosecutor lending her knowledge to government investigations or a former government and municipal attorney who lends his invaluable experience to navigate the political and economic challenges that arise throughout the redevelopment process.
With regard to meeting potential clients to discuss new business opportunities, the firm encourages group pitches both within and across practice groups, which serves to incorporate more attorneys in the process. This provides invaluable experience in learning how to identify client needs in order to solve their problems effectively with the most diverse team possible.
Additional results of the firm’s steadfast approach to mentoring and developing talent can be seen in CSG’s 2020 promotion class of members and counsel, the largest in the firm’s history. Women attorneys accounted for 50% of this class, while diverse attorneys made up 16%.
The CSG Diversity & Inclusion Committee, together with firm leadership and employees, supports a variety of legal and business affinity groups by both actively participating in, and sponsoring, these organizations. Through their participation, many of the firm’s attorneys have taken on leadership roles within the largest and most prolific of these organizations.
The Chair of the CSG Diversity & Inclusion Committee has been invited to serve as the Co-Head of the inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Sub-Committee of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association, a national association focused on promoting the business and professional interests of women attorneys who represent corporations, other organizations and individuals facing government enforcement actions, internal investigations, compliance and ethics matters. In addition, a woman member of the firm founded the local New Jersey Chapter of this organization, and currently serves as its Chair.
An associate with the firm currently serves as the President of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, after having previously served the organization as Vice President of Communications and as a member of the Judicial & Prosecutorial Appointments Committee. Other roles currently held by firm associates include Trustee of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, Diversity Committee member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and Board Member of the Garden State Bar Association. Providing support and encouragement for attorneys who take on leadership roles in organizations early in their career is an important part of the firm’s fabric.
Social Justice and Community Involvement
As members of the legal profession, we understand that we play a critical role in the pursuit and the protection of the democratic ideals of liberty, equality, and justice for all. In this spirit, CSG's Diversity & Inclusion Committee formulated an Action Plan in 2020 to further our shared objectives of supporting social justice causes, promoting inclusivity and open dialogue, and fostering the well-being of members of our CSG family.
The first step in that plan was to support change-making organizations, and we completed a very successful fundraising campaign for the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, an organization that advocates for social and racial justice reform, in Summer 2020.
In Fall 2020, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee hosted another impactful fundraising campaign in the form of a virtual food drive for The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the State’s largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization. The funds raised through this initiative provided more than 30,000 meals to families in need across New Jersey during a particularly challenging holiday season.
In addition, the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee will take a leading role in developing the firm’s expanded Pro Bono Initiative for 2021, which will include donating time and resources to organizations that align with the firm’s vision while also providing an opportunity for junior attorneys to gain invaluable hands-on experience working on substantive matters.
Diversity Outreach Programs
CSG supports student diversity outreach programs and participates in minority job fairs in furtherance of the firm’s efforts to recruit minority law students. The firm is a member of the New Jersey Law Firm Group, an organization committed to the advancement of diverse placement throughout the state’s legal community, and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, an organization dedicated to the recruitment, retention and promotion of diverse candidates in law firms and corporations. CSG actively supports student diversity outreach programs, including the Rutgers Black Law Student Association, the Seton Hall Black Law Student Association and the Fordham Black Law Student Association.
The firm has developed a summer program in collaboration with the Rutgers University Minority Student Program, a nationally acclaimed post-admissions law school program that helps students underrepresented in the legal profession by offering legal skills development, academic support, mentoring and other opportunities. Students who have completed their first year of law school are invited to join the firm for the summer, where they have the opportunity to work closely with lawyers in a variety of practice areas to gain valuable experience and build relationships for future mentorship. Since the start of this program, the firm has extended offers to return for a following summer or join the firm as a full-time associate to 100% of the students from the program.
Empowering the Next Generation of Legal Talent
We have also taken a leading role and interest in guiding, preparing and empowering the next generation of legal talent. Most recently, CSG has been delighted to develop a close partnership with Practicing Attorneys for Law Students ("PALS"), an organization dedicated to enhancing the skills and careers of minority law students and early career attorneys by offering customized mentoring, educational and professional development opportunities.
In 2020, we had the great pleasure of joining several AmLaw 200 firms as a PALS sponsor, and we continue to support the organization and its members by offering our attorneys as resources in furtherance of PALS's critical mission and programming. Over the course of the year, CSG litigator Shirley U. Emehelu participated in its "Navigating Your Career Goals During the Pandemic: Staying Positive and Productive" program – and was later joined by The Honorable Patricia K. Costello, A.J.S.C. (ret.), Of Counsel with CSG's Litigation Group, for an "Ethics & Courtroom Protocol" session.
Further, we are an active and regular host organization for the New Jersey Law & Education Empowerment Project’s (“NJ LEEP”) Week-on-the-Job Program, which exposes high school students to the range of career paths available in the law firm setting. During the mentorship program, attorneys from different practice areas discuss their roles and put their practice into action by having the students draft memos and discuss mock cases. In addition to attorneys, employees from several departments – including Human Resources, Marketing & Business Development, Office Operations and Services and Records – assist with teaching the students about how their roles support the firm’s operations. In addition, our attorneys continue to mentor NJ LEEP students even after this program, making this a truly rewarding experience for both the students and our volunteers.