Meeting the challenge
The Nexsen Pruet Diversity Scholarship Program illustrates the firm's commitment to diversity inside our walls and in the legal profession as a whole. We have an obligation to promote diversity by providing more and better opportunities to deserving law school students.
The number of African-American lawyers in the largest U.S. law firms has fallen from 3.6 percent five years ago to 3.1 percent, according to the 2013 Diversity Scorecard compiled by The American Lawyer magazine. Counting Asians, Hispanics and others, the overall total for minorities is 13.9 percent, which is where it stood five years ago. By comparison, the percentages for the medical profession, accounting and college professors are significantly higher.
“We clearly have not found the key to diversifying our profession...”
-Laurel Bellows, Past President of the American Bar Association
Nexsen Pruet understands the importance of having lawyers who reflect the diversity of our client base, jury system and the community at large. We are proactively reaching out to bring more minorities into the firm and then to mentor them to make sure they succeed.
In 2008, we launched the Nexsen Pruet Diversity Scholarship Program. The scholarship is awarded to two (2) underrepresented or minority law students who are enrolled at an ABA accredited law school. The program recipients will receive a $5,000 scholarship and a paid summer associate position. Since inception of the scholarship program, we have awarded 41 scholarships at a total investment of $125,000.
To give diversity more emphasis, we maintain a team of attorneys who are focused on the issue. Ken Lewis leads the initiative. Ken works closely with other Nexsen Pruet attorneys who are focused on identifying, engaging and retaining a highly-skilled, dedicated and diverse workforce.
Women’s Leadership Initiative
Our diversity team recognizes that women are faring better than minorities. Nearly half of all law school graduates are now women and one third of the nation’s attorneys are female, according to a May 2013 story in The Legal Intelligencer. Unfortunately, women “…still remain grossly under-represented in positions of real power and influence in law firms,” the report said.
That’s why Nexsen Pruet started a Women’s Leadership Initiative to encourage and support female attorneys in leadership roles within the firm and community. As a result of this initiative, Nexsen Pruet attorney Laurie Becker helped create the Next Steps program, which teaches leadership skills to middle school girls in the Midlands of South Carolina. One tangible symbol of the firm’s sensitivity to such issues is the fact we have been honored by Columbia Business Monthly as one of the best companies in the Midlands for working moms.
Nexsen Pruet recognizes that a diverse firm produces broader perspectives, better ideas and more creative solutions for our clients.
"Coffee Cup Collaborative"
On June 29th, 2009 The United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro presented the city of Greensboro with sculptures created through the "Coffee Cup Collaborative," a project Nexsen Pruet is proud to support. The artwork, which is displayed throughout the city, commemorates the sit-in movement that began at the Greensboro Woolworth's on February 1, 1960.