Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
Foley Hoag’s commitment to diversity and inclusion traces its roots to the founding of the firm in 1943. Henry Foley and Garrett Hoag were determined to hire the very best lawyers, based entirely on individual merit and without exclusion – an attitude that set them very much apart from others in the Boston legal community of that era. Those twin traditions of excellence and inclusiveness have remained guiding forces in the firm’s culture. We have brought together at the firm lawyers of different backgrounds, skills, and experiences because we recognize that those individuals bring with them a diversity of thought and perspective that enriches the firm’s culture and enhances the quality of our work.
We are committed to fostering an environment in which diversity of every type can flourish and in which every lawyer is positioned to thrive.
Foley Hoag manages its efforts in this regard through its Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Chaired by a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee, the Committee is comprised of lawyers of varying backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. They coordinate with the firm’s Executive Committee, Department Chairs, Hiring Committee, Women's Forum, Director of Professional Development, Director of Business Development, and the Working Group on Associate Development and Retention to ensure that issues of diversity and inclusion are considered in recruiting, retaining, and advancing the firm’s lawyers, and in the delivery of the highest quality legal services to our clients. Click here for the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion's Mission Statement.
Committee on Diversity and Inclusion: Key Contacts
Foley Hoag is a founding member of The Boston Lawyers Group, a consortium of large Boston law firms, government and corporate legal offices dedicated to increasing the number of lawyers of color practicing in Boston. The BLG is housed in our Boston office. Foley Hoag’s lawyers are active in BLG’s efforts, serving on its Executive Committee, interviewing law students at BLG job fairs, mentoring local first-year law students of color, and participating in career panels and mock interviews held for students at Boston-area law schools. We regularly sponsor and participate in conferences and job fairs organized by minority law student groups and other organizations dedicated to addressing the issues of recruitment, retention, and promotion of lawyers of color. We also host an annual resume workshop for local first-year law students of color.
More than half of our Washington, D.C. office is composed of attorneys and staff born outside the United States, many from Central and South America. In part because of its emphasis on international work, the Washington office’s recruitment has a particular focus on attracting attorneys of diverse backgrounds. In addition, our multi-national and multi-lingual Paris office recruits high-caliber lawyers from around the globe.
The firm is a strong supporter of the efforts of The Partnership, Inc., an organization working to make a lasting change in the Boston community by fostering key relationships among existing and emerging leaders and developing programs to strengthen the retention of minority executives and professionals. Foley Hoag sponsors our associates of color as “Fellows” in The Partnership’s Boston Fellows Program, a year-long program bringing together professionals and executives of color, providing opportunities to meet and develop relationships with Boston’s most influential people of color and key non-minority decision-makers as well.
Dedicating Our Resources
We take great pride in the fact that we have been able to employ our own resources and legal talent to promote the goals of diversity and inclusion. Examples include the following:
- Foley Hoag prevailed in a highly charged and visible lawsuit in which we partnered with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law to challenge the Massachusetts Redistricting Act on the basis that it diluted minority voting strength in the Boston area. This most recent success, which changes the political landscape of Boston, is reminiscent of our representation of plaintiffs more than 30 years ago in the landmark case requiring desegregation of the Boston schools.
- For two decades we defended on behalf of our client, the NAACP, consent decrees implemented in actions to remove barriers to the integration of the Boston Police and Fire Departments, and we continue to work with a variety of cities and towns to assure that they utilize non-discriminatory hiring practices.
- Foley Hoag has a legacy of working to promote diverse educational environments. For example, in 2013, our lawyers worked with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (“AALDEF”) to submit an amicus brief in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas to uphold the use of race in UT’s admissions policy. After a decision on remand by the Court of Appeals in UT’s favor, the Fisher case is back before the Supreme Court, and we will again be submitting an amicus brief with AALDEF.
- We have represented many organizations that empower women or people of color in the United States and abroad to create and foster businesses and other entrepreneurial opportunities in their communities, such as Accion International, the Center for Women and Enterprise, Initiatives for a Competitive Inner City and others.
- Our lawyers have assisted the NOW Legal Defense Fund in defending the Violence Against Women Act. Our attorneys have worked to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in obtaining protective orders and other forms of relief for over 25 years, including a recent victory in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
- We have represented organizations (such as The Arc of Massachusetts, which works to enhance the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities) to fight discrimination against those with disabilities.
- We co-filed a federal lawsuit with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and another firm to obtain federal benefits for same-sex married couples. The suit resulted in the first district court ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The First Circuit affirmed our victory on appeal, declaring that the plaintiffs had the same federal spousal benefits as any other married couple.
Foley Hoag Foundation
The Foley Hoag Foundation was established by the partners of Foley Hoag in 1980 with the legal fees the firm was awarded representing the plaintiffs in a historic Boston school desegregation case. Originally focused on improving race relations among youth in Greater Boston, the Foundation’s mission has been broadened to support programs addressing inequality in its various forms in the Washington, D.C. area as well as Greater Boston, including racial, ethnic and gender disparities. Volunteer associates in the firm play an active part in the work of the Foundation, reviewing and making recommendations on all grants.
Since 1981 when its grant making began, the Foundation has awarded 580 grants totaling more than $2,000,000 to 290 individual organizations. Grantees overwhelmingly consist of small organizations that are aligned with the Foundation’s mission and are working to advance their objectives through art and cultural activities, advocacy, youth leadership, education and recreational programs. The Foundation remains an important part of the cultural fabric of the firm today.