It is not by accident that nearly 50 percent of Coblentz’s attorneys and 70 percent of our associates are women and minorities. It is because we know the value of hiring retaining and promoting minority and women attorneys. Not only does our history of diversity and equality help define us as a firm and a culture, but it helps us to better understand and serve our clients and our community.
Pamela Duffy was the first woman to become a name partner at a major San Francisco law firm, and she set the stage for groundbreaking growth for women at our firm. Today, women hold prominent firm leadership roles, including co-managing partners, COO, and chairs and co-chairs of each major practice group, and hold seats on every committee, including the management committee and the compensation committee. Coblentz is recognized as one of the most gender-equitable in the United States, ranked nationally on Law360’s 2016 list of 25 “Ceiling Smashers” – firms with the highest percentages of female partners – and on Law360’s 2016 Glass Ceiling Report: The 100 Best Law Firms for Female Attorneys.
Our annual Women in Conversation event supports the strong network of professional women in the Bay Area and honors their accomplishments in business, the law, and the arts. Past guest speakers have included film and theater actor Patricia Clarkson, noted entrepreneur and philanthropist Elinor “Nell” Newman, Olympic athlete and sports broadcaster Jessica Mendoza, ODC founder and executive director Brenda Way, legendary artist Linda Ronstadt, president of the University of California system Janet Napolitano, president of the National Academy of Sciences Marcia McNutt, writer, producer and director Nell Scovell, and chef and restaurateur Dominque Crenn.
In 2009, the firm established the William K. Coblentz Civil Rights Endowment Fund at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in honor of Bill Coblentz’s passion and commitment to racial and social justice and equality under the law. The Coblentz Fund provides resources for Berkeley Law’s faculty and students to engage in innovative, policy-relevant, multidisciplinary research in the areas of education equity or voting rights, and support for specific faculty-student research projects. Coblentz Fellows have engaged in research in diverse areas, including immigration law and investigation of the stark inconsistencies in the adjudication of claims for asylum.
The Endowment funds two summer interns and six work-study research interns each year, and to date, the Coblentz Fund has supported more than 85 Fellows in their work with such organizations as the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity; Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice; Center for the Study of Law and Society; the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights; the Haas Diversity Research Center; and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC). To date, the Endowment has also funded two post-graduate full year fellowships.
In 2017, the firm established an additional paid post-graduate fellowship, the Coblentz Prize, to support a full one-year fellowship with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC). The Coblentz Prize honors the legacy of Bill Coblentz by enabling one graduate of Berkeley Law to work in the Legal-Policy Department of the ACLU-NC responding to threats to civil liberties and civil rights, and working specifically on some of the most pressing issues of today related to immigrants’ rights, Muslim communities, privacy, national security, and reproductive justice. The Coblentz Prize Fellow will actively participate in impact litigation and policy advocacy, as well as engage in activities such as coalition-building, outreach, know-your-rights, and technical assistance to community organizations.
We support a number of initiatives to increase the pipeline for minorities entering the field of law. We hire minority summer law clerks through the Bay Area Minority Clerkship program, and as part of the Bay Area Minority Law School Scholarship program, the firm supports scholarship funds for minority students. Our attorneys also serve as mentors for minority law students through a number of minority bar associations.
Our attorneys speak at various diversity-related events, ranging from the Greater Bay Area Asian Pacific American Law Student Conference at U.C. Davis King Hall School of Law to career panels organized for minority students at U.C. Hastings School of Law.
For several years, Coblentz has served as sponsor and host for the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Minority Law Student Scholarship.