Tonkon Torp is committed to developing a workforce that is diverse and represents the perspectives and experiences of our clients and communities. We, along with our clients, recognize diversity and inclusiveness as imperative to business success. Diversity strengthens us as a firm, as it expands our talent pool, enhances our responsiveness to clients, and adds valuable breadth and depth of perspective to the complex problems we help our clients solve.
Workforce diversity within the firm
We are building a diverse workforce by both evolution and design. Diversity has been one of our core values for over a decade. We strive to promote a workplace that is effective in recruiting and retaining diverse staff, law students, law graduates and lateral candidates. The firm continues to work on creating a culture and developing policies which encourage individuals of diverse backgrounds to join and remain with the firm. Our commitment to these initiatives is paying off, with diversity increasing among both our lawyers and staff.
Steps we have taken to promote a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment include:
- Diversity Partner. The firm's Diversity Partner, Darcy Norville, coordinates our initiatives and leads our Diversity Task Force.
- Diversity Task Force. A task force comprised of interested staff and lawyers assists the firm in identifying barriers to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and recommends means of removing those barriers. The Diversity Task Force meets on a regular basis and oversees a budget dedicated to funding diversity efforts in the firm and community.
- Conversation Project. Tonkon Torp has been hosting a series of Conversation Project lunches in 2016 and 2017. Offered by Oregon Humanities, the Conversation Project engages communities throughout the state in thoughtful and challenging conversations on topics and ideas that will shape Oregon's future. Over the course of eight months, all Tonkon Torp lawyers and staff members have been invited to attend the lunches and explore diversity-related topics such as: how gender shapes our lives; the future of racial diversity on Oregon; understanding disability; and homelessness.
- 1L Diversity Fellowship Program. To attract diverse law student applicants to Tonkon Torp, we offer a fellowship to a first-year law student who is a member of a racial or ethnic minority. The fellowship provides a first-year summer associate position. If a diversity fellow returns to the firm the summer following his or her second year of law school, we provide a $7,500 academic scholarship. This program has been extremely successful. Tonkon Torp now regularly attracts highly qualified diverse law students to the firm's summer associate program, and then hires those students as lawyers.
- Minority Student Job Fairs. To increase our contact with minority students in the hiring process, Tonkon Torp participates in local and regional minority student job fairs and has twice hosted the Northwest Regional Job Fair of the National Black Law Student Association.
- Requirements for Staffing Agencies. When engaging staffing/placement agencies for staff hiring, Tonkon Torp specifically asks the agency to identify and present diverse applicants for our consideration. We also engage agencies located outside the downtown Portland core in order to increase our likelihood of recruiting diverse candidates.
- DeLaSalle High School Intern Program. Since 2005, Tonkon Torp has hired student interns from DeLaSalle High School who have contributed to the racial and socio-economic diversity of the firm. This internship program provides valuable job skills to high school students. Many of the students have subsequently returned to the firm as temporary or permanent full-time employees.
- 2020 Committee and Action Plan. As Tonkon Torp builds a more diverse workforce, we also must ensure that we have policies and practices to encourage the retention of the talented lawyers we hire. In 2010, Tonkon Torp formed the 2020 Committee to identify steps to create an environment that supports lawyers in times of transition and family demands (new children, family illness, aging parents, etc.). After meeting with all the lawyers in the firm and engaging in open discussions about the pressures of managing personal and firm/client needs, the committee adopted an action plan to put its recommendations into practice.
Support of diversity in the Bar and the community
Tonkon Torp actively participates in diversity efforts of the Oregon State Bar and other organizations in the local community. The firm sponsors, serves in board leadership roles and/or regularly engages in events hosted by these organizations:
Oregon Minority Lawyers Association
Opportunities for Lawyers in Oregon
Partners in Diversity
PGE Diversity Summits
Diversity Section Roundtable lunches
Convocation on Equality
Seven professionals from Tonkon Torp were recognized as "Champions of Diversity" by the Convocation on Equality for their consistent work in promoting diversity in the legal professional. Additionally, our lawyers are involved in developing a Toolkit for Inclusion which is being prepared as a hands-on, practical guide for law firms seeking to improve diversity practices.