Diversity & Inclusion
Who are we?
With more than 160 attorneys and 150 staff members in seven states, we serve our clients locally, nationally and around the globe. Our attorneys and staff come from richly diverse backgrounds, and we actively support diversity and inclusion within our firm and the community.
What do we believe?
WTP believes that, in order to provide our clients with the best possible service, we must take a firm-wide, pro-active approach to foster a culture that promotes diversity and inclusion. This is not a new concept to WTP, but one that our firm has encouraged for years -- diversity and inclusion are part of our business plan and strategy for success, and we believe they are important for our society as a whole.
We are proud of our diversity initiatives and remain committed to enhancing and expanding them. The needs of the future necessitate a constant and evolving commitment to making diversity and inclusion a priority.
How are we acting?
The Inclusion Committee, co-chaired by the firm’s Managing Partner, Martin T. Fletcher, is committed to enhancing our firm’s diversity. The Committee is designed to ensure that WTP fosters an environment reflective of society and promotes a diverse workforce that encompasses, without limitation, race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, and disability. We actively recruit, mentor, develop professionally, support and promote diverse attorneys and staff. Our goal is to ensure that each of our attorneys and staff has the opportunity to develop her or his full potential and become a leader, both within the firm and in the communities we serve. We work toward this goal through acceptance, understanding and respect of individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
Through various initiatives, WTP strives to recruit, retain and develop diverse attorneys and staff who can offer the many varied and valuable perspectives that enable us to offer our clients high-quality legal services. WTP sponsors and supports numerous initiatives to foster inclusion within our firm and the community. The following are some of our initiatives:
The Women’s Initiative Network (“WIN”)
The Women’s Initiative Network aims at supporting WTP’s female attorneys who are in various stages of their practice and are actively involved in numerous professional and business organizations. WIN focuses on internal networking, professional development, advancement, leadership, and business development opportunities for our women lawyers.
The group sponsors various activities including internal networking events where the firm’s lawyers can learn from one another, guest speakers, CLE events, seminars and client/networking events. The WTP Associate Mentoring Program
WTP offers a formal mentoring program to first- through fourth-year associates and to new senior associates for at least a period of one year. The program is designed to assist associates in navigating the firm’s culture, to provide professional development and career guidance, to transfer knowledge from more seasoned attorneys, and to help associates set and pursue goals for their career at WTP. Mentoring and training is an important way to support WTP’s goals with respect to diversity and inclusion and supports our future leaders in our communities.
The Committee carefully selects associate and partner pairs and has outlined specific goals and objectives for the program to ensure that all participants benefit from their pairings. In addition to the mentor/mentee individual meetings, WTP organizes group events to help enhance the mentorship experience. Associates meet their mentor, who is a partner with the firm, on the first day of employment, along with a member from the Associate Liaison/Reach-Out Group, which consists of several senior associates throughout the firm’s offices who will also assist mentees throughout the transition period. Mentors provide support to associates as they work to achieve professional and personal goals. We solicit candid feedback from the participants, all of which is evaluated by the Inclusion Committee, and improvements and/or additions are incorporated into the program as needed. For instance, we have learned that the pairings do better if the partner is in a different practice from the associate, so the associate can be honest without feeling that what is said will get back to his or her supervisors.
Internship Program for First-Year Law Students
WTP offers an eight-week internship program to first-year law students. Because it is a very select program, recruiting only students who are highly recommended by their law schools, we have the luxury of using diversity as a key criterion.
The program provides diverse students with an opportunity to hone their research and writing skills under the direction of a partner mentor and an associate mentor. Projects are assigned from various practice areas within the firm. Participants also have an opportunity to work on a pro bono project. Mentors meet with interns on a weekly basis to review and discuss work assignments and offer support, guidance and critique regarding the interns’ overall performance at the firm. Participants also have an opportunity to meet several of the firm’s attorneys at various social events.
Strategic Alliance Groups for Young Professionals
The firm founded and supports a young professionals networking group for associates and other similarly situated young professionals from local insurance and accounting firms. Each “class” in the program meets monthly over an entire year. The concept is that they will develop strong relationships with peers in other professions that can continue to work together and support each other as their careers progress into leadership positions.
Internal Firm Tools to Support Inclusion
WTP's intranet portal for all staff and attorneys provides access to internal and external resources. The intranet portal allows WTP staff and attorneys from our eleven offices to stay connected, get to know one another, and highlight the accomplishments of our diverse staff and attorneys. Further, the intranet portal provides a centralized location to post useful information. For example, the portal highlights a calendar of important holidays celebrated throughout the world and among various religions and cultures, allowing all of us to acknowledge the important dates in the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist faiths and other faiths that members of the firm celebrate.
What are some of our accomplishments?
Diversity and inclusion is central to WTP’s culture. Our attorneys, staff, section heads, department chairs and firm leaders come from numerous diverse backgrounds. A review of the biographies of our attorneys shows that diversity and inclusion is important and valued at WTP.
Additionally, our diverse attorneys have taken leadership roles in the broader legal bar and in the communities we serve. For example, Harry S. Johnson, a partner in the Products Liability and Environmental Litigation department and member of WTP’s Executive Board, served as the first and so far only African-American head of the Maryland State Bar Association and is a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession. Deborah Diehl, a partner in our Business and Corporate Law Section and member of WTP’s Executive Board, serves on the Board of Governors for the Maryland State Bar Association.
Thurman Zollicoffer, a partner in the Products Liability and Environmental Litigation department, is a former City Solicitor and counsel for the Mayor & City Council for the City of Baltimore. Enayat Qasimi, a partner in the Business and Corporate Law Section, is the former Minister of Civil Aviation and Transport in Afghanistan. Erek Barron, counsel in our Business Litigation department, formerly served as the Counsel and Policy Advisor to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the Hon. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and was a member of President Obama's Transition Team for Justice and Civil Rights. Dorothy Deng, an partner in our International Practice, is an eligible judicial interpreter in Mandarin for the State of Maryland.
Ari Ghosal is a board member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Maryland and the Indian Biomedical Association, while Dorothy Deng is on the board of the DC chapter of the Monte Jade Science and Technology Association and Erek Barron is the incoming president of the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association.
Our firm supports many legal organizations and events in our communities, such as:
- Hispanic Bar Association
- International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC)
- Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at the University of Baltimore School of Law
- Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
- Montgomery County Bar Association's Summer Scholars Program
- Cook County Bar Association Minority Law Student Job Fair
- Delaware Minority Job Fair
- Monumental City Bar Association
- DC Bar Pro Bono Program
Our attorneys are involved in numerous charitable, educational, governmental and professional organizations and boards. (See WTP's Pro Bono work.)
Further, WTP supports numerous community groups and organizations:
- House of Ruth
- The Public Justice Center
- Legal Aid Bureau, Inc.
- Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland
- Rebuilding Baltimore Together
- Living Classrooms Foundation
- Maryland Disability Law Center
- Maryland Food Bank
- Bea Gaddy Family Center
- The Journey Home
What does our future hold?
WTP will continue to develop and enhance a positive working environment that focuses on maximizing the inclusion of our attorneys and staff. We value and celebrate the diversity within our own firm, our clients and the broader communities we live in. Our ongoing commitment to sustaining a diverse and inclusive firm is central to our success now and in the future.