At Wilentz, inclusion has been a guiding principle of our culture since David T. Wilentz founded the law practice in Perth Amboy over a century ago. We recognize that our people are among our greatest assets and the diversity of our team benefits our clients and the firm. We strive to recruit, develop and retain the finest talent from all backgrounds to ensure our top business growth and performance. Today, a large segment of our officers, management committee, practice group leaders and diversity committee are from diverse backgrounds, including our incoming Managing Director.
Our Diversity Committee is dedicated to continuing to develop an environment in which every individual’s unique strengths and abilities are valued and utilized to the fullest capacity. We have introduced initiatives designed to strengthen our workforce through recruiting and developing the experience and education of diverse attorneys and other professionals from all backgrounds. We have long embraced the concepts and principles of equal employment opportunity and fiercely maintaining a positive work environment. Beyond this, we recognize that continuously promoting inclusion is an integral part of our mission to strive for excellence as individuals and as a law firm.
The Diversity Committee at Wilentz leads the firm’s efforts to:
- Recruit, retain and develop diverse talent at all levels.
- Educate our managers and employees to understand and support our diversity goals.
- Participate in opportunities that recognize and promote diversity in the communities in which we live and practice law.
- Support our long-standing policy to encourage reporting of any discrimination or harassment based on sex, race, or any other protected status.
Our commitment to diversity is consistent with our recognition that the exceptional people within our firm contribute to our success. Our Diversity Committee seeks new and innovative ways to expand our diversity initiatives in the areas of education, recruitment and retention. We strive to strengthen our inclusive culture, recruit and retain attorneys and professionals from diverse backgrounds, and support and lead diverse organizations in both the legal and business communities whose mission is to promote inclusion. We are proud to participate in diversity-focused initiatives and community events, which have included:
- Shareholder Satish Poondi serves as a Trustee to the Indo-American Business Association and as legal advisor to Srirangam Srimath Andavan Ashramam and, as such, serves as an important liaison on behalf of the South Asian communities in New Jersey, to ensure that their voice has a greater impact.
- Associate Yessica J. Pinales serves as Co-Chair of the Hispanic Bar Association Young Lawyers Committee, leading the Committee’s efforts in providing mentorship, professional guidance, leadership development, and networking opportunities to members of the Hispanic community in the legal profession. We are proud to sponsor many of the events hosted by the Association. As a participant in the Hispanic Bar Association Mentorship Program, we designate Wilentz attorneys as mentors to Hispanic law students as they complete their courses and work toward graduation from law school.
- We encourage and sponsor our attorneys to become members of the Garden State Bar Association, also supporting its events and its mission to assist African-Americans and other minorities to become an effective part of the judicial and legal systems.
- We encourage and sponsor our attorneys to become members of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey and support the Association’s events. Our Shareholder Willard Shih has served as an officer and director of the organization.
- We support the Rutgers-Newark Law School Minority Student Program in its mission to help underrepresented law students of any race or ethnicity to succeed by offering legal skills development, academic support, alumni mentoring and networking, internships and other opportunities.
- We support the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association, an independent association of New Jersey women lawyers in their mission to retain women in the legal profession through education and activism, promote members to the highest levels of law firm, government, academic, community and corporate positions and endorse qualified female attorneys for appointments to the state and federal judiciary. Our Shareholder Donna Jennings serves as the Association’s Co-Chief Financial Officer and our Shareholder Brett Harris served as the Association’s Co-General Counsel from 2015 to 2021 and now serves as a Trustee-At-Large.
- We led early industry diversity efforts as a founding member of the New Jersey Law Firm Group, an organization committed to the recruitment, hiring and retention of minority law students and lawyers in member firms and government agencies. Our participation has included sponsoring an annual fellowship for a minority law student, participating in minority job fairs, and encouraging our associates to mentor students identified through this group.
- Our Assistant General Counsel John Hogan served as Central Jersey Chapter Chair and Member of the State Board of Directors for the American Conference on Diversity.