John Iino, the newly appointed global chair of diversity and inclusion at Reed Smith, said “we still have a long way to go” to achieve diversity at his 1,700-lawyer firm.
Based on a survey the firm conducted Thursday, about 10 percent of the firm’s U.S. partners are either Asian American, African American, Hispanic, or are from another diverse ethnicity (the survey allowed partners to respond with an “other” category).
It was announced Thursday that Iino, 54, will replace Deborah Broyles, who led the firm’s diversity initiatives for more than a year until she passed away last month.
“Obviously these are huge shoes to fill,” said Iino, the firm’s Los Angeles managing partner. Under her leadership, Reed Smith was honored this year by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum as one of six top law firms that are promoting and fairly compensating women.
In an interview with Big Law Business, Iino spoke about his responsibilities in the new role and how he plans on improving the firm’s diversity profile.
In the effort, the firm is partnering with USC Gould School of Law in a summer associate fellowship in which the school provides Reed Smith and Anthem with a 1L (with a diverse background) to spend seven weeks at the firm and three weeks at Anthem in its 2L summer associate program.
Iino also said that part of his role includes a business development component. He said he will meet with clients and seek partnerships around the firm’s diverse attorneys.
“As clients continue to support or require diversity, a big part of my job will be to go out and meet various legal departments, chief diversity officers and start the conversation about how to help them and introduce my talented partners and help build relationships. It’s me trying to open doors.”
He said that the firm has received business from Kaiser Permanente over the years, at least partly because of its commitment to diversity.
“They ran the analysis of looking at their bills of who is working on their matters,” said Iino of Kaiser. “It’s not enough to trot out your diverse team. You have to live it and implement it so the people working on their matters are reflecting the diversity we have to achieve.”
Following a report this week that the gender pay gap among Big Law partners is 44 percent, Iino said that he is in a strong position to advocate for fair pay because of his prior management positions.
“I have served on our our executive committee, and it’s given me strong relationships within the firm but also an understanding of how to navigate within a big law firm. I’m not going to say that I know I’ll be successful (in advocating for attorney pay), but having had those experiences and those relationships, I hope I’ll continue to open doors for various people.”
Iino said that he has often spent time mediating disputes on origination credit issues between partners.
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