Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Holwell Shuster & Goldberg is committed to promoting diversity within the firm and the wider legal profession. The firm has taken significant steps to further this purpose on three fronts: leadership, talent development, and promoting change.
We understand that we occupy a privileged place in a privileged profession that has historically failed to create a level playing field for diverse individuals—and that if we are to do better, we must recognize the limits of our own perspective. To that end, many of the initiatives we have pursued originated from staff suggestions, affinity group proposals, other grassroots recommendations to the partnership, or guidance from diversity and inclusion consultants.
HSG recognizes that leadership on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues should come from every part of the firm. In an effort to ensure that all voices are part of the conversation, and to foster an environment in which everyone can thrive, we have:
- Established an active Diversity & Inclusion Committee that includes representation from diverse individuals at all levels of the firm, including non-lawyer professionals. Eight of the committee’s 14 members are diverse, with six of the 14 belonging to racial minorities; two members of the firm’s management committee (one of whom is also a founding partner) also sit on the committee.
- Connected all associates with partner mentors to increase informational access and promote mentoring relationships regardless of law school, professional background, pre-existing networks, or other traditional connectors.
- Launched affinity groups for LGBTQIA+ individuals, women, and first-generation professionals. Associates, staff attorneys, and professional staff serve key leadership roles in these groups.
- Instituted an Asian Equality Taskforce to raise awareness and implement initiatives to show solidarity and support for all members of the Asian community who are experiencing racist backlash.
- Convened planning committees for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Pride Month to prompt reflection and conversation on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. These committees have sponsored events and hosted a number of women and minority speakers (including Judge Rowan Wilson, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals; Maura Kathleen Monaghan, co-chair of the commercial litigation group at Debevoise & Plimpton; and Jason Starr, litigation director of the Human Rights Campaign).
- Participated in various service projects, including one through the NYC Bar’s Thurgood Marshall Professional Development Series.
- Implemented annual firmwide DEI training and transgender awareness training.
- Launched a bimonthly firmwide initiative, called “Seeds of Inclusion,” to help foster ongoing ideas and dialogue around how to make HSG as inclusive of an environment as possible.
We actively train our associates in a manner that positions them as partner candidates. Below are a few examples of significant engagements that HSG diverse associates—from first-years to eighth-years—have taken the lead on, with the support of partner mentors at the firm:
- Examining a key witness in a major antitrust jury trial.
- Arguing (and winning) a bail motion in an appeal before the Second Circuit.
- First-chairing an arbitration (and, again, winning).
- Examining a key witness in a multimillion-dollar international arbitration.
- Handling the depositions in a major litigation against the Boeing Company.
- Filing amicus briefs with the Supreme Court—several of which have been cited by the Justices and reported in legal publications.
- Filing an amicus brief for the National Women’s Law Center with the Sixth Circuit.
- Attending and contributing to client pitches within the first few months of their HSG tenures.
The firm has also:
- Introduced a summer associate program with a commitment to developing diverse talent.
- Recruited and retained a diverse and highly accomplished team of staff attorneys and paralegals who contribute significantly to high-profile matters and the firm’s strategic growth.
- Invested in pipeline programs such as the NYC Bar’s Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship for high school students, hosting multiple summer interns through the program.
- Partnered with the University of Notre Dame’s Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program on a series of insightful discussions, including a pre-law panel about law school experiences and entering the legal field.
- Participated in affinity group conventions and career fairs, including conventions of the National Black Law Students Association, the National Latina/o Law Student Association, and the Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair, to name just a few.
HSG has contributed over $250,000 to anti-racist initiatives since 2020, including more than $150,000 in donations to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. It has also made a major financial commitment to Her Justice. That financial support reflects the firm’s belief that one of the best ways to create positive change is to lift up, and partner with, organizations that have a demonstrated track record of dedication to issues of racial and social justice.
Toward that end, for instance, the firm has:
- Established itself as a corporate partner to Her Justice, a non-profit that provides free legal services to women and families in New York City. Through that partnership, HSG lawyers have represented clients in matters ranging from divorces to an application for a U-Visa.
- Partnered with Visa to assist Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) in its work to uphold the rights, freedom, and dignity of people. In connection with BDS’ Family Defense Practice, HSG hosted a pro bono legal clinic to assist clients whose names may have been wrongly added to the New York State Central Registry.
- Litigated, as part of our extensive pro bono work, a series of groundbreaking workplace discrimination cases on behalf of Frontier Airlines pilots and flight attendants who asserted claims of discrimination based on Frontier’s failure to provide accommodations related to pregnancy and breastfeeding. As the result of both cases, Frontier Airlines has agreed to several policy changes that will better address the needs of pregnant and lactating pilots.
- Signed on as an inaugural law firm partner in the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab initiative to bring litigation addressing discriminatory police conduct in predominantly Black communities. In one recent matter concerning the alleged use of excessive force against a cooperating Black man with pre-existing injuries, HSG obtained a favorable settlement.
- Partnered with the American Friends Service Committee to assert the rights of detained immigrants.
- Served as co-counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and Shearman & Sterling in a case challenging, under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Arkansas’ methods of electing Court of Appeals and Supreme Court judges.
- Partnered with the Immigration Justice Campaign to help provide much needed immigration relief; the IJC recognized HSG as its Law Firm of the Quarter for the firm’s dedication of time and talents in the fight to support detained immigrants.
- Filed amicus briefs in dozens of cases, including the groundbreaking matters noted below:
- Pilots Reach Settlement with Frontier Airlines Over Lactation and Pregnancy Policies
- Amicus Brief on Behalf of Media Coalition Aids in Obtaining New York Court of Appeals Win in Kesha’s Ongoing Defamation Dispute
- HSG Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of UNHCR in Major SCOTUS Case
- HSG Amicus Briefs Filed on Behalf of League of Women Voters of New York State Lead to Monumental Decision as New York Top Court Rejects Congressional Map
- Supreme Court Issues Unanimous Ruling in Favor of American Muslims Wrongfully Placed on No-Fly List
- HSG Represents Prevailing Amici in Closely Watched Title IX Appeal
- HSG and Muslim Advocates File Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Over Discriminatory National Security Practices
Recognition & Thought Leadership
As part of our commitment to diversity, HSG attorneys regularly speak on diversity and inclusion-related issues. The firm and its attorneys have received recognition for these and other efforts in this sphere, including by Visa as an “All Star” law firm for our diversity and inclusion initiatives. Select examples appear below.
- Karen Sebaski Discusses Practice Group Management with Kelly Graves for NAWL Podcast
- Karen Sebaski Featured in IPWatchdog on What IP Practitioners are Thankful for This Year
- Law360 Ranks HSG Number One in the Nation for Pro Bono
- Blair Kaminsky Named 2023 Distinguished Leader by New York Law Journal
- Priyanka Timblo Selected for Bloomberg Law’s 2023 “They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40”
- Lauren Cole, Prishika Raj, and Victoria Roeck Named to Profiles in Diversity Journal’s 2023 Women Worth Watching List
- Kevin Benish to Speak at the 2023 Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair
- Law.com Spotlights HSG Founding Partners in How We Started Our Own Law Firm Series
- New York Business Journal Profiles Blair Kaminsky as 2022 Woman of Influence
- Law.com Spotlights Priyanka Timblo in How I Made Partner Series
- Alison Miller Named to Profiles in Diversity Journal’s 2022 Women Worth Watching List
- HSG Receives Highest Recognition by Chambers Associate Across Six Categories
- Jayme Jonat Selected as a 2022 Northeast Trailblazer by The American Lawyer
- Jayme Jonat Receives Notable Women in Law Award from Crain’s New York Business
- Jayme Jonat Featured in Law.com How I Made Partner Q&A Series
- HSG Recognized by Crain’s New York for Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
- HSG Receives Highest Recognition for Pro Bono by Chambers Associate; Also Recognized for Associate Retention, Diversity & Inclusion, and More
- Karen Sebaski Co-Authors Article in Women Lawyers Journal, Featuring HSG Partner Jayme Jonat
- Blair Kaminsky and Eileen DeLucia Recognized as Notable Women in Law by Crain’s
- Eileen DeLucia to Present at Benchmark Litigation’s Women in Litigation Forum
- Jayme Jonat Named a Litigation Trailblazer by The National Law Journal
- Dorit Ungar Black Recognized as a 2020 New York Business Journal Women of Influence
- Euromoney Recognizes Dorit Ungar Black as Best in Litigation in the 2020 Women in Business Law Awards
- Six HSG Partners Named to Benchmark Litigation’s 40 & Under Hot List
- Dorit Ungar Black and Jayme Jonat Recognized on Euromoney’s 2020 Women in Business Law Awards Shortlist
- Jayme Jonat Authors Guest Article for the New York Law Journal
- Jayme Jonat Featured in LexisNexis Virtual Women’s Roundtable
- Zachary Kerner and Angela Gil Honored with Her Justice Legal Team Award
- Jayme Jonat to Present at Ms. JD’s 12th Annual Women in Law Conference