The American Bar Association honored Reed Smith LLP with its 2021 Champions for Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award. The award was presented by Accenture, along with the Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights, at the Diversity Center Awards Presentation on February 19, 2021, along with the Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline’s 2021 Alexander Award to the Law and Leadership Institute, and acknowledgment of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession's honorees for the 2021 Spirit of Excellence Awards. The ABA Commission on Disability Rights selected Reed Smith for its commitment to, and leadership in, supporting and enhancing the professional, personal, and career development of people with all types of disabilities both at the firm and within the legal profession. Disability is an essential pillar of the firm’s diversity and inclusion program.
With its disability affinity group, LEADRS, at the forefront, along with the firm’s Mental Health Task Force and Wellness Works program, Reed Smith makes disability inclusion a core component of the firm’s diversity and inclusion programs. In fact, the firm has been recognized by the 2020 Disability Equality Index as one of the best places to work for disability inclusion. Reed Smith also topped the Diversity Innovation category in the Legal Innovation Awards 2020 for creating strategies to attract candidates with disabilities and provide proper support once they join the firm. In addition, the National Organization on Disability recently honored the firm as a 2020 Leading Disability Employer, which recognizes companies that demonstrate exemplary employment practice. Additionally, associate Jonathan Andrews was named this year by the Shaw Trust as the fourth most influential person with a disability in the UK.
Founded in 2012, the firm’s disability affinity group LEADRS has implemented a global five-year plan that includes supporting, mentoring, and helping with the career development of disabled attorneys; enlisting ambassadors, allies, and champions, including through their Stop the Stigma campaign video for Mental Wellness Month; creating partnerships with clients; ensuring accessibility of physical spaces and technology; collecting and measuring disability data; and communicating regularly with its members and the firm as a whole. The mentor program, which is open to all Reed Smith employees, is intended to form natural and organic mentor/mentee relationships based on common interests and goals.
Reed Smith actively educates its employees on disability issues, distributing a Disability Etiquette Guide, holding mental health and safety leadership trainings for supervisors. In addition, the firm held its inaugural Global Disability Inclusion Summit in December 2020, and forged partnerships with other organizations, including participating in Barclay’s Think Talent program for prospective lawyers who are autistic or otherwise neurodiverse and hiring four graduate lawyers from that program.
Denise R. Avant, CDR Chair, states “Reed Smith’s commitment and leadership is illustrated in the myriad activities it engages in that foster disability inclusion in the legal profession. These include participating in job fairs or other recruitment targeting disabled lawyers, sponsoring internships or fellowships for disabled law students and recent graduates; reaching out to high school and college disabled students to broaden the diversity pipeline; and providing disability awareness and reasonable accommodations/rights of disabled employees trainings to staff and management. Reed Smith serves as an exemplary model for the profession.”