Faegre Baker Daniels' diversity scholarships are launching the careers of diverse law students and reinforcing the firm's commitment to diversity, Indiana Lawyer reported in the article "Scholarships Aim to Boost Diversity in Law Firms and Other Fields."
In 2008, Haroon Anwar and Abhishek Dubé became the first two recipients of $10,000 diversity scholarships from Baker & Daniels, which merged with Faegre & Benson on Jan. 1, 2012, to become Faegre Baker Daniels. Recipients also receive valuable summer associate positions, which led to full-time jobs as associates at the firm for both Anwar and Dubé following their summer employment in 2009.
Evelyn Gentry, a 2010 scholarship recipient, is also now an associate with Faegre Baker Daniels. Saolo Delgado, a third-year law student and a 2011 recipient, plans to join the firm next year.
The scholarship recipients all expressed enthusiasm about the implications of the program.
"If you look at big law firms, there just aren't that many minorities in law firms and so to have a law firm go out on a limb and do something like this shows that we are serious about diversity," Anwar told Indiana Lawyer. "A lot of places say they're committed to diversity, but it's different to actually take action to back up what you're saying. So I think that's really important in terms of what the scholarship does."
"Diversity is more than just picking candidates, it's more of a process," Delgado added. "And I think that Faegre Baker Daniels understands that it's a process … it's a commitment of 10 to 20 years, until you can grow your base."
Delgado and Gentry both planned to join smaller law firms until they heard about the opportunities presented by Faegre Baker Daniels' scholarships, according to Indiana Lawyer.
"I had a choice for summer in 2010 between Faegre Baker Daniels and a smaller firm, and I just remember making my decision based on (thinking)—these people are really serious about diversity, they're putting their money where their mouth is and I felt they were committed to it," Gentry explained.
Delgado was attracted to Faegre Baker Daniels for similar reasons. "The reason I came to law school is because I wanted to help the Hispanic community and I thought that the best way to do that was to go to a small firm where I could have an impact," he said. "But in learning about the services that Faegre Baker Daniels and a large firm can have, you can help the Hispanic communities or minorities on a larger scale. If you're smaller, you can help one person do an immigration case here or there, but if you work for a bigger firm you have more services, more people that can help you."
Brita Horvath, who works on Faegre Baker Daniels' diversity efforts, said that the firms' similar attitudes toward diversity were one reason Baker & Daniels and Faegre & Benson decided to combine. "Diversity was an aspect of the due diligence for understanding the firm's values, culture and interests," she told Indiana Lawyer. "It's a source of pride and identity for all of our offices."
Delgado hopes other companies follow the model Faegre Baker Daniels has created. "I guess I just hope that other firms and other corporations—not just law firms—seek their own initiatives, their own process, so that one day we can reflect what our nation looks like," he said.