It is not by accident that nearly 45% of our attorneys and 58% of our associates are women and minorities. It is because we know the value of hiring, retaining and promoting minority and women attorneys. Is there more work to be done? Yes, and we are committed to it. 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 major practice groups. 36% of the firm’s partners—almost twice the national average—and 38% of the firm’s associates are women. Coblentz is recognized as one of the most gender-equitable in the United States, ranked nationally on Law360’s list of “Ceiling Smashers” – law firms with the highest percentages of female partners.
Coblentz’s women attorneys created Women in Conversation in 2009 as an event to bring together talented, inspiring and influential women leaders in business, science, the arts, sports, politics, and the community. Women in Conversation allows us to share the stories of celebrated women with our firm clients, colleagues, and friends.
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, and writer, producer and director Nell Scovell.
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 Coblentz Fund has supported more than 60 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 Haas Institute for a Fair & Inclusive Society; Equal Rights Advocates; and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
In 2017, the firm was privileged to be able to offer 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 continues to honor the legacy of Bill Coblentz by enabling one graduate of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law to work in the Legal-Policy Department of 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.