Freeborn believes that people with different backgrounds and cultures make us stronger as an organization and allows us to deliver better results for our clients. We are focused on ensuring our attorneys and employees reflect the communities in which we practice. We are equally committed to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive working environment throughout our firm at all levels.
To spearhead our diversity and inclusion efforts, Freeborn hired Christine E. Hollis, who serves as the firm’s Director of Attorney Recruiting, Development and Diversity. Ms. Hollis leads the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and implements the strategic initiatives of the Recruiting, Management and Executive Committees with respect to the hiring of associates and lateral partners across all offices.
Freeborn is pleased to offer a Diversity Scholarship Award open to eligible first and second-year law students for law school tuition or other school-related expenses. We are also starting a Summer Mentorship Program for diverse law students who already have a law clerk or summer associate position elsewhere. The intent of this program is to complement existing summer employment by preparing the student for future opportunities in various practices of law. Mentees will be paired with a Freeborn attorney who will serve as a mentor and point of contact, answer questions about practicing law in their desired area of focus, and shepherd them through firm networking programs to gain exposure to the local legal community.
In addition to our recruiting and diverse talent management goals, Freeborn has several other diversity and inclusion initiatives which include the following:
- Our Women’s Leadership Council (“WLC”) promotes the development and advancement of our women attorneys, advocates the marketing efforts of our women attorneys, and focuses on the recruitment and retention of women attorneys. Our firm includes 26% women lawyers and our staff is 53% female, which includes 60% of our Directors.
- We celebrate diversity by creating experiences around Hispanic, Black, Women’s, and Asian and Pacific Islander history months with guest speakers, themed gatherings and education.
- Our diverse community sponsorships include supporting diversity programs with the Chicago Asian American Bar Association, Vault/Minority Corporate Counsel Association Career Fair, Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Firms, National Bar Association, Women’s Bar Foundation, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, and the Seventh Circuit Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
- Freeborn observes and celebrates Juneteenth as a firm-wide holiday.
- Our flexible work arrangement policy allows people the time to address work/life issues.
- Our minority scholarships and work/study programs support diverse groups, such as our Chicago Scholars and Cristo Rey Work/Study programs.
- We sponsor Legal Prep Charter Academy in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.
- We have partnered with minority owned/operated search firms focusing on pipelining diverse candidates for our recruiting efforts.
- We have entered a three-year partnership with the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) which provides us with access to research, data, and programming related to DEI, as well as providing our firm access to diversity trainings and symposiums.
- In October of 2020, the firm began unconscious bias training. This year-long program will assess and address each employee’s individual unconscious bias and provide actionable ways to address and combat bias to effectuate positive change.
We understand that delivering on our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a process, and it will take time for our demographics to reflect this commitment. We are excited to be on this journey for the betterment of our firm and client experience.