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, 30% of CSG’s partners are women, well above the national average for law firms nationwide (which is 25% according to the NALP 2020 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms). In addition, women comprise half of the firm’s practice group leaders, 20% of its Executive Committee and 40% of its Management Committee. CSG’s diverse lawyers are leaders both within their respective practices and in the greater community and include the co-head of the Banking and Finance Group, who previously served as Chief of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Forfeiture and Anti-Money Laundering Unit; a seasoned Real Estate partner with more than two decades of experience in state and local government; and a senior corporate attorney who has led many transformative projects for leading clients.
CSG is proud of its culture, one that creates opportunities for team members at every level to advance their careers. As proof of this commitment, the firm was selected among New Jersey’s “Best Places to Work” in 2020 and 2021 by NJBIZ and Best Companies Group in the large company category.
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 – also recommends and implements key policies, programs and initiatives that foster inclusion among our employees.
One key initiative for the committee in 2021 was to sponsor a mandatory firmwide DEI presentation by Equity Quotient. This event brought together all employees for a Learning Lab, as well as smaller, interactive breakout sessions, focused on shedding light on key issues in this area, and discussing how the team can join together to increase diversity and inclusiveness in all facets of life.
In addition, the committee has supported a wide variety of initiatives aimed at building a more diverse and inclusive firm, industry and community, as detailed below.
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 is committed to providing opportunities for lawyers at various stages of their careers, from seasoned partners to junior law clerks, to join our team. 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. 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 unique background to help clients 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 a team approach which serves to incorporate more attorneys in the process. This provides invaluable experience in learning how to identify client needs and solve their problems effectively with the most diverse team possible.
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 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 completed her service as President of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, after having previously served in other roles for the organization including as Vice President of Communications and 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 and Diversity Committee member of the New Jersey 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 CSG successfully raised funds for the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, an organization that advocates for social and racial justice reform, in Summer 2020. After that fundraiser, the team went on to develop 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.
Most recently, CSG was proud to partner with Vibha, a volunteer-led organization committed to supporting the educational needs of children in India, as it quickly pivoted to respond to the dangerous surge of COVID-19 infections overwhelming the country’s healthcare system. The CSG team supported Vibha’s "Save Lives, Save India" project, which focused on deploying capital and other resources to hospitals, healthcare facilities and trusted partner organizations in India.
In addition, the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee is helping to lead the expansion of the firm’s Pro Bono Initiative, 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.
Empowering the Next Generation of Legal Talent
CSG has taken a leading role and interest in guiding, preparing and empowering the next generation of legal talent through a variety of projects focused on creating a future pipeline of diverse lawyers.
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.
As a sponsor of Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (PALS), an organization dedicated to enhancing the careers of minority law students and early career attorneys, CSG has assisted in developing educational and professional development programs.
The firm has been a longstanding supporter of the New Jersey Law & Education Empowerment Project (NJ LEEP), serving as an active host for the organization’s Week-on-the-Job Program. This program exposes high school students to the range of career paths available in the law firm setting. During this mentorship program, attorneys from different practice areas discuss their roles and put their practice into action by having students draft memos and discuss mock cases. In addition, employees from throughout the firm – including Human Resources, Marketing & Business Development, Office Operations and Services and Records – share insights with the students about their careers and how their roles support the firm’s operations. Many CSG lawyers continue to mentor NJ LEEP students even after this program, making this a truly rewarding experience for both the students and our volunteers.
CSG has recently joined with Braven, an organization that provides support to first-generation college students, to create a “Career Trek” that will introduce Braven Fellows to different career paths in the law while also building their networks with in-field professionals. Highlights of this program include a career panel, networking, and opportunities for mentoring.