Programs and initiatives

Through all of our programs and initiatives, we empower and engage as many people as possible to be leaders, champions and sponsors of D&I. We know that our pathways to success have to be transparent. DLA Piper is a firm that focuses on advancing diversity and inclusion which allows us to hire the best talent, build the most effective teams, deliver the highest level of client service and be effective contributors to our local communities.

Leadership programs

Women Emerging Leaders and Lawyers of Color Emerging Leaders

DLA Piper has two 18-month leadership development programs, Women Emerging Leaders (WEL) and Lawyers of Color Emerging Leaders (LOCEL), that are aimed at developing junior partners into strong business developers and leaders. These initiatives work to increase business acumen, provide opportunities for strategic enhancement of business development skills, allow for a better understanding of leadership within the global firm, and effectively develop, reward, engage and attract women lawyers and lawyers of color.

Both WEL and LOCEL receive quarterly programming that coincides with the convening of firm leadership to expose participants to key leaders as well as crucial and timely discussions regarding firm management.

Professional development and networking programs

  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) programs
    Through our partnership with Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), DLA Piper participates in three developmental programs for diverse lawyer students and diverse lawyers at varying stages in their careers.

    Scholars Program: The 1L LCLD Scholars Program is designed to strengthen the diverse legal pipeline by expanding the number of opportunities available for diverse first-year law students. Each year, the LCLD Scholars Program provides first-year law students (the majority of them first-generation law students) with the opportunity to work side by side with DLA Piper lawyers to gain crucial experience in a variety of practice areas over the course of a summer. Through our partnership with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, more than 50 of our lawyers mentor diverse 1L law students across the country.

    We’ve recently increased our number of LCLD 1L student scholars so that they comprise nearly half of our 1L summer associate class.

    Pathfinders Program: The Pathfinders Program connects high-potential, early-career emerging leaders for a seven-month professional development series that focuses on foundational leadership skills, professional networks and relationship building skills, and career development strategies. Each year, DLA Piper opens this opportunity to its diverse, junior associates.

    Fellows Program: While the Pathfinders program focuses on high-potential early-career emerging leaders, the Fellows Program is designed to connect high-potential, mid-career emerging leaders, lawyers who have 10 to 15 years of practice experience, typically at the junior Partner and Of Counsel level, for a year-long professional development series that focuses on leadership and relationship building. The Fellows program spans 12 months and employs a range of training methods and networking opportunities available exclusively to Fellows.
  • UC Hastings Leadership Academy
    The UC Hastings Leadership Academy is an executive education program for women law firm partners and in-house attorneys who are current or emerging leaders within their organizations. Every year, DLA Piper sponsors three to five women lawyers to take part in the Academy. Women who attend are regarded as the rising stars of the legal profession, and the Leadership Academy gives them the tools and confidence they need to realize and further their leadership ambitions.
  • Harvard School of Law’s Women’s Leadership Initiative
    Each year, DLA Piper sponsors several women attorneys to participate in HSL's immersive four-day leadership program. The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) addresses the gender disparity in the legal profession and the ongoing challenges women often face once they attain leadership positions.

    The program is designed for both women in leadership positions in in-house legal departments and firm-based women partners and is led by distinguished women faculty and scholars. The Women's Leadership Initiative challenges individuals to develop strategies for navigating their careers more strategically through personal influence, self-advocacy and more effective team leadership.
  • Annual Charting Your Own Course (CYOC) Career Development Conference
    The Charting Your Own Course Career Conference seeks to empower attorneys of color with practical career and life strategies for short- and long-term success. The conference aims to share the skills and know-how needed to build and cultivate commercially and personally relevant relationships and knowledge networks, creating an environment to support and encourage attorneys who feel accountable to each other regardless of firm or company affiliation. Each year, DLA Piper sends a large delegation of diverse lawyers to this conference to engage in career and life strategies and networking.

Pipeline development

DLA Piper's pipeline development efforts aim to mentor and develop diverse students who aspire to careers in the law. The firm contributes to various diversity scholarship programs and encourages active participation through mentoring, speaking engagements and board service.

  • Raja Gaddipati Fellowship
    DLA Piper’s Raja Gaddipati Fellowship is an in-house, diversity pipeline initiative that mentors and develops underrepresented undergraduate students who aspire to careers in law with the goals of increasing law school enrollment of underrepresented students and improving diversity in the legal industry.

    The six-week, full-time, paid summer internship is designed to give students a broad view of what it is like to work in a large law firm environment and encourage them to begin developing professional networks. The students go through a rigorous application and interview process to compete for a limited number of seats in the firm’s Chicago and Washington, DC offices. Please contact the D&I Team for more information.

About Raja

The fellowship was renamed in 2018 to honor a beloved partner, Raja Gaddipati, who was deeply involved in the community and engaged in the advancement of DLA Piper's culture. He was passionate about diversity and inclusion and had an enormous impact on our D&I initiatives.

Raja's professional career as an attorney blossomed at DLA Piper. He was quickly recognized for his legal acumen and his unique blend of insight, confidence, and judgment. He advanced to partnership at a young age. Raja represented Fortune 500 companies in important litigation matters across the country. Within the firm, Raja was recognized as a leader by his partners, who appointed him chair of the Chicago Hiring Committee and a representative on the firm’s Policy Committee, among numerous other leadership positions. Raja also served as a valued mentor to many junior attorneys, who benefited from his generous gift of time and patience. He was a fierce proponent of diversity and inclusion to the benefit of the legal community. Within the profession, Raja leaves behind a legacy as a brilliant advocate with a stellar reputation for unyielding integrity.

  • Kent PLUS Scholar Program
    DLA Piper has a longstanding relationship with the Chicago-Kent School of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and each summer we host the Kent PLUS Scholars for lunch, a Q&A-style panel discussion led by four of our own associates who offer their insights into the work we do and what it’s like to working for a leading global law firm, and, at the end of summer, a networking reception which also includes our Raja Gaddipati Fellows, summer associates, and other lawyers in our Chicago office.

    About the program
    The Chicago-Kent Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars program (PLUS) offers an unforgettable experience for college students who are interested in the legal profession. This rigorous three-week program is designed to prepare students for law school or a career in the legal profession by helping them to develop the essential core competencies to succeed in these areas. The program targets undergraduate college students from groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession.

  • Diversity Scholars program at the University of Maryland School of Law
    This program awards scholarships to diverse students based on academic achievement, financial need, and the recipients’ ability to contribute to the diversity of the school’s student body and the legal profession.
  • Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
    DLA Piper sponsors a John Lewis Fellow during their tenure with the CBCF. The program is designed to give young, Black professionals the opportunity to work in Congress and with the Foundation to address social justice and racial equity issues that affect the Black community. Fellows produce social justice policy research and analysis on topics that include, but not limited to, criminal justice, education reform, community/economic development, health disparities and civil rights.
  • Access to Law School Program at Yale Law School 
    This is an innovative pipeline program that serves first-generation, low-income, and under-represented minority students from New Haven and Connecticut who wish to pursue a legal career.
  • LMJ Scholarship
    The LMJ Scholarship is a diversity pipeline program that seeks to nurture the academic and professional careers of outstanding law students. The scholarship is open to women and diverse students who have: been accepted to an ABA-accredited law school on a full-time basis; an outstanding or promising academic record; an interest in corporate law; demonstrated community service and leadership qualities; a financial need; and a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity. The LMJ Scholarship grants scholarships of $10,000 to students for their first year of law school. In addition to financial support, LMJ scholars are connected with peers, alumni, and mentors, who are available to provide professional support, such as guidance on addressing academic or personal obstacles that arise over the course of their legal career.
  • Ron Brown Scholar Program
    The Program  which was named for the late Secretary of Commerce and inspired by his dedication to public service, focuses on encouraging civic engagement among Scholars while promoting academic excellence, community and lifelong interactions.  Recipients are young African Americans of outstanding promise who are offered academic scholarships, service opportunities and leadership experiences.
  • Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program
    The Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program places diverse New York City public high school students with legal employers for the summer. This program runs annually from April through August and is part of the Association's continuing efforts to enhance the diversity of the legal profession.
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
    DLA also sponsors the first of its kind joint internship on the hill with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). DLA Piper sponsors two students after their internship on the hill wraps, one in DC and another in Chicago, to join the firm for 10 weeks to gain exposure to the practice of big law.

Training and education

DLA Piper currently maintains a partnership with New York University's Kenji Yoshino, Director of the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. Through our partnership with NYU School of Law's Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, the firm sponsors a speaker series featuring leaders from academia as well as the public and private sectors on a range of topics related to diversity and inclusion, including allyship, authentic leadership, covering, critical conversations and the foundations of building an authentic career.

Over 2,000 of our lawyers, including our leadership, have participated in the innovative and interactive inclusion training specifically customized for DLA Piper. The Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging's most recently developed trainings are unique to each practice group and are reflective of real experiences shared by our very own attorneys and are currently being rolled out across the country.

Community and client partnerships

Our internal pipeline initiatives and sponsored external pipeline programs aim to diversify the legal industry and give back to the community. Additionally, we have many teams all over the country spearheading programs and projects that exemplify our values. Some of these include the many domestic and global initiatives led by our award-winning Pro Bono team and our involvement in programs like Street Law, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Chicago Committee and the DC Affordable Law Firm.

DLA Piper is proud to partner with clients on professional development, civic engagement and pro bono projects, providing numerous external opportunities to develop our diverse attorneys. We also support a significant number of D&I advocacy organizations. DLA Piper's involvement with organizations rich in research and programmatic work assists greatly in our ability to design and reach diversity goals. Our involvement with the following groups further widens our network and contributes to an inclusive culture.

  • Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF)
  • Catalyst
  • Seramount, formerly Working Mother Media and Diversity Best Practices
  • ChIPs Global Summit
  • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
  • Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC)
  • Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)
  • The National Bar Association (NBA)
  • The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)
  • The National Hispanic Bar Association (NHBA)
  • The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
  • The South Asian Bar Association (SABA)
  • The LGBT Bar Association's Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair
  • Lambda Legal