“Irell & Manella is focused on delivering the highest quality legal services and achieving excellence through diligence and creativity. Our attorneys are hired and evaluated based on the quality of their work. This focus has penetrated our culture and resulted in a population of attorneys from a variety of backgrounds.” – Kyle Kawakami, Irell & Manella Diversity Chair
Consisting of partners and associates from both offices, Irell & Manella's Diversity Committee serves as a resource and provides a forum for addressing diversity, development and work-life balance concerns. The Committee is also responsible for recommending and implementing strategies to further diversity and inclusion, and its goals align closely with those of the Women's Committee, Associates Committee and Executive Committee.
Irell & Manella has been actively involved in the fight against California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage. Most recently, an Irell team served as lead pro bono counsel for Equality California in connection with an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop. 8).
Irell has also been actively involved in challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In connection with Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management, et. al., which prompted the Ninth Circuit to consider the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, an Irell team submitted an amicus brief challenging Section 3, which forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions, and argues that it is unconstitutional because it discriminates on the basis of gender and is rooted in sex stereotypes. Irell filed the brief at the request of Lambda Legal on behalf of our clients: Legal Momentum (the nation's oldest legal defense and education fund devoted to advancing women's rights); Legal Voice (which has an extensive history advocating for women's rights in the courts and legislatures); and California Women's Law Center (which advocates the elimination of unjust social, economic, legal and political constraints on women and girls).
On behalf of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) and 15 other California lawyer groups, Irell also filed an amicus brief urging the California Supreme Court to admit Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant who passed the bar exam, to the State Bar of California. The Bar Association of San Francisco and the bar associations for Alameda, Kern, Marin, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego and Santa Clara Counties all joined the LACBA on the brief.
Irell & Manella is committed to promoting diversity in the legal profession and to providing equal opportunity to people of all ages interested in pursuing a career in law. Irell attorneys support and participate in a number of youth programs that share in that mission, including:
- Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League (LAMDL): LAMDL is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues to support academic debate teams in LAUSD schools and to provide programs previously only accessible to students in elite private institutions and the wealthiest public schools.
- Project SELF: Each summer, Irell's Newport Beach office hosts interns in connection with ProjectSELF (Summer Employment in Law Firm), a hands-on internship for low-income, minority high school juniors that provides access to professional and career environments and positive mentors to help them with goal setting and college preparation. The program is run by the Orange County Bar Foundation in partnership with the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators.
- Black Women Lawyers Association (BWL) Mentorship Program: The BWL Mentorship Program provides mentors to students at Dorsey High School in South Central, Los Angeles who wish to become lawyers.
- UC Irvine School of Law Pre-Law Outreach Program (POP): POP helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds understand the demands of law school, prepare for the law school application and admissions process, and be inspired to one day use their legal skills to give back to the community.
- UCLA Law Fellows Outreach Program: Irell regularly sponsors the UCLA Law Fellows Outreach Program, designed to encourage and prepare high-potential undergraduate and graduate students for a career in law, increase the diversity of the law school pool and demystify the law school experience.
Speaking, Writing and Events
In addition to our advocacy work, many of the firm's attorneys speak and write on topics of diversity. The firm also hosts and sponsors a number of diversity-focused events. Recent articles and events include:
- Andra B. Greene's article "Why Diversity is Essential in an Economic Downturn" was published in Diversity Journal.
- Irell is a sponsor of the LGBT Bar Association's Lavender Law Conference.
- Alison Plessman was on a panel, titled "Strategic Extra-Curricular Activities," at the Ms. JD Annual Conference on Women in the Law.
- Irell sponsors USC Gould School of Law's Annual OUTLaw Endowment Dinner and OUTLaw Career Diversity Panel.
- Morgan Chu was the keynote speaker at the Northwestern School of Law Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
- In connection with Lambda Legal, Irell hosted an event, titled "Take The Power: A Life and Financial Planning Symposium," which addressed financial and legal issues related to estate planning, practical issues like important legal documents to have in place, and the changing legal landscape for LGBT people and same-sex couples.
- Irell regularly sponsors UCLA School of Law's Firm Diversity Reception.
- Eric Webber, former president of the LA County Bar Association, was featured in the Daily Journal article "Bar Head Calls for More Diversity."
- Jane Shay Wald was on a panel titled "Master Women Litigators" at Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles's Litigators Forum.
- Irell sponsors UC Berkeley Law School's Dale Minami Public Fellowship Dinner.
- Eric Webber's article "Kevin Cathcart and Lambda Legal: Celebrating a 20-Year Journey" was published in the Daily Journal.
- Andra Greene spoke on a panel, titled "Creating the Cultural Tipping Point," a discussion on inclusion and cultural change, at an event sponsored by CoreLogic Diversity & Inclusion and the Santa Ana Women's Business Council.
- Irell sponsors Columbia Law School's Outlaws Event.
Irell & Manella is committed to supporting various community organizations throughout Southern California and nationwide, including:
- Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County
- Equality California
- Lambda Legal
- Mexican American Bar Foundation
- National Association of Women Lawyers
- Women's Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
- For more on our community involvement, please click here.
Women at Irell
Irell's women attorneys play an integral role in the firm's leadership and currently hold positions such as managing partner of our Newport Beach office and practice group chairs; they also serve as members of the firm's Executive Committee. For more on Irell's women attorneys, please click here.
Pro bono work is an important and rewarding part of our profession. As a firm, we are proud of and support the work our lawyers do on behalf of those in need, much of which benefits diverse communities. For more on our pro bono work, please see our pro bono page.
Honors and Awards
- Vault recognizes Irell as one of the "25 Best Law Firms for Diversity" in their 2014 rankings.
- In The American Lawyer's 2013 Diversity Scorecard, out of the 228 U.S. law firms surveyed, Irell ranked #9 in diversity in the percentage of minority partners and #20 in the percentage of minority lawyers overall.
- MultiCultural Law Magazine consistently ranks Irell among the "Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity."
- MultiCultural Law Magazine also ranks Irell among the "Top 50 Law Firms for Partners."
- Lambda Legal presented Eric Webber with the 2013 West Coast Liberty Award for his tireless advocacy for LGBT individuals in the legal profession.
- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) awarded Irell & Manella the 2004 Flag Bearer Award for our critical work preparing an amicus brief in Lawrence v. Texas.