Competition brought lawyers and executives together to advance diversity and inclusion
Polsinelli Shareholder Patrick Woolley worked with a team of seven professionals that took second place in a competition against nine other teams at the second annual Diversity in Law Hackathon this month in San Francisco.
Woolley’s team, “Gap Busters,” placed for an innovative approach developed to enhance the way law firms and in house legal departments go about ensuring diverse attorneys are given equal opportunity to secure leadership positions.
The winner of the inaugural competition developed the Mansfield Rule which, to date, has been adopted by close to fifty law firms and has helped increase the number of diverse attorneys considered for career and leadership opportunities. One of the widely recognized shortcomings of the Mansfield Rule is that there first must be a pipeline of diverse legal talent available to serve as leaders, promoted to shareholder status or hired in order for the rule to work. The proposal presented by the team Woolley worked with addresses this issue by increasing the number of underrepresented attorneys in the pipeline for leadership positions through a program that would sponsor candidates as they advance throughout their careers.
Woolley’s teammates were Lindsey Boyle, Diversity Lab’s manager of Hiring, Onramp Fellowship; Sara Brody, partner at Sidley Austin; Althea Brown, senior counsel at Google; Andrew Kassner, chairman and CEO at Drinker Biddle & Reath; Angela Markle, senior legal counsel at PayPal; and Bianca Serrato, student at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Asker Saeed, Fried Frank’s director of Diversity and Inclusion, served as the team advisor.
“It was a privilege to represent Polsinelli in the 2018 Diversity in Law Hackathon,” Woolley said. “One of the things I value most about the five months of work that led up to the final competition was the opportunity to collaborate with lawyers, diversity professionals and law students who were equally passionate about focusing on solutions and not just problems. Not only did I learn from the varied perspectives offered by my teammates and other participants, but this event also allowed me to develop new initiatives that I am excited about working to implement at Polsinelli.”
The Diversity in Law Hackathon was created by Diversity Lab in collaboration with Bloomberg Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, and UC Hastings College of Law. This year’s competition included representatives from 23 in-house legal departments, two law schools and 33 law firms.
The top three winning teams in the competition will have the opportunity to pilot their ideas with Diversity Lab and an alliance of law firms and legal departments committed to implementing the solutions within their organizations.
Programs and ideas from Woolley and team focused on opportunities to improve the selection and matching of sponsors and proteges, increasing engagement for participants, implementing accountability and success metrics, and rewarding successful participants in the program.
“Gap Busters included the idea of improving sponsorship programs with a three-pronged approach including a leadership sponsor, business development sponsor and executive coach,” Woolley said. “I was pleased with the way our team converged a variety of ideas and strategies to come up with a well-rounded solution that aims to improve firm and in-house sponsorship.”
As chair of Polsinelli’s Intellectual Property Department, Woolley has helped Polsinelli grow the firm’s practice from its inception to one of the largest IP practices in the nation, with a deep bench of attorneys, patent agents and scientists. Woolley also serves as a member of the firm’s national Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Woolley’s practice includes domestic and foreign issues in areas such as patents, trademarks, copyright, licensing, litigation, trade secret litigation and business advice and guidance. Based in the firm’s Kansas City office, Woolley has worked with startup companies, federal agencies, individual inventors and university/research institutions.
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