Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
OBWB has an established D&I committee led by partner Carlyn Burton and joined by managing partner Jeffrey Bergman. The DEI Committee ensures that the firm is both diverse and inclusive. Firmwide initiatives launched by the committee include: training on implicit bias, pay gap analysis, regular reinforcement of the firm’s commitment to being an inclusive environment, flexible work arrangements, and clear pairing of legal staff with partners having responsibility for the legal staff members’ career trajectories. These efforts, in conjunction with a long history of a hiring philosophy to find the most qualified person for the job, has resulted in a US-based legal staff that is ~55% from underrepresented groups (and ~60% of total worldwide staff being from underrepresented groups). At a leadership level, ~55% of the firm’s leadership is from underrepresented groups.
In early 2022, OBWB announced the achievement of “Midsize Mansfield Certification Plus” - a program intended to improve law firm diversity through tracking, consideration, and collaboration. The firm considered at least 30 percent diverse lawyers for hiring opportunities, leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and formal client pitch opportunities. Additionally, to receive “Plus” status, the firm certified the successful achievement of 30 percent diverse representation in current leadership roles, formal client pitches, and staffing on key matters.
“A core feature of our firm has been, and always will be, providing a diverse and inclusive environment” said Jeff Bergman, Managing Partner of OBWB. “Participating in Mansfield allowed us to build upon our previous initiatives with a more measurable and transparent process. We are proud to be a Midsize Mansfield Certified Plus firm and look forward to continuing our partnership with Diversity Lab and Midsize Mansfield Rule.”
Carlyn commented on the firm's ongoing initiatives saying, “the patent profession faces unique challenges due to the lower representation of diverse individuals with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees. As we continue to participate with Diversity Lab and the Midsize Mansfield Rule, we are also committed, in parallel with our efforts as a part of the Midsize Mansfield Rule, to exploring other ways to increase opportunities for diverse patent engineers and agents. Hiring of diverse individuals through our Patent Agent Program is not in fact recognized as part of the Midsize Mansfield Rule, though we believe it is important and an effective way to create a more diverse pipeline of practitioners in the patent bar.”
Carlyn has long been an advocate of diversity and inclusion in the legal industry. She is a respected authority on this topic and is a frequent speaker at international IP events.