Goldberg Kohn is committed to having a work environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, and to sustaining a culture in which professionals of all backgrounds and ethnicity experience a true sense of belonging. We believe this commitment is critical to the health and success of our firm, and central to sustaining strong relationships with our clients and our communities.
To preserve this commitment, Goldberg Kohn has collaborative programs focused on ensuring opportunities for recruitment, retention and promotion of diverse professionals, encouraging our entire team to be involved in these efforts. Examples include our GK Advocates program, which establishes mentorship relationships for Associates centered around internal and external networking opportunities, and provides them regular career and business development support and resources. In addition, through our Women's Task Force, Goldberg Kohn actively supports and raises awareness of and commitment to women attorneys within the firm. In recognition of our efforts, in 2022 Goldberg Kohn proudly achieved Mansfield Midsize Certification in its inaugural certification program, and has recently been re-certified.
Within our community, Goldberg Kohn actively supports numerous organizations both financially and with our volunteer time, including My Block, My Hood, My City, and has cultivated a robust pro bono program that assists underserved communities, winning multiple awards for our work. And through our Supplier Diversity Program, Goldberg Kohn has sought to provide opportunities to diverse businesses.
Goldberg Kohn's Diversity Committee drives initiatives and programs in support of Goldberg Kohn's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Committee is appointed by, and works closely with, the Management Committee on a number of key projects, such as GK Advocates, our Standing Together Initiative and our Mid-Size Mansfield Certification. We believe this top down support is vital to the success of the Diversity Committee and the programs and initiatives it promotes.
The Diversity Committee is comprised of a cross-section of Principals, Associates and administrative leadership, and works with a Diversity Coordinator who helps to develop and execute firm wide diversity initiatives in support of the Committee.
In order to widen our firm's pipeline of attorney applicants to include more diverse attorneys, the Diversity Committee partners with the firm's Recruiting Committee. This includes connecting with diverse bar and alumni associations, engaging recruiters who specialize in diverse candidates, and affiliating with diverse law student organizations. The Diversity Committee also provides financial support to organizations devoted to expanding the talent pipeline to include law students with diverse views and experiences, including the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund (HLSF) and the Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP). Beginning in 2022, the firm was approached by a private scholarship foundation to support through mentoring African-American law students at the University of Illinois College of Law. The Diversity Committee fully supported this mentoring opportunity and joined with various firm Committees to recognize and implement the program, now in its second year.
The Diversity Committee partners with Goldberg Kohn's Cultural Crossroads Committee to develop and present cross-cultural events designed to foster dialogue on, and awareness of, issues of diversity in the law and within our community, including racial, ethnic, religious, disability and LGBTQ+ topics. Cultural Crossroads events provide us with a platform to highlight, celebrate, increase awareness of and learn about the diversity of our workplace community. As an example, Cultural Crossroads recommended and the Diversity Committee supported offering Spanish Language classes to firm employees, which provided a unique opportunity to learn about another culture and new language with co-workers.
Finally, the Diversity Committee assists in educating all of Goldberg Kohn about various backgrounds and ethnicities by creating and distributing monthly emails celebrating a particular Heritage Month. These celebrative and informative monthly Heritage emails have recognized Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Women's History, Pride, Black History, Juneteenth, National Disability Employment Awareness, Native Americans, Hispanics and Veterans.
Established in 2019, the GK Advocates Program is a firm-wide effort to ensure that all Associates have access to resources to support their success and promotion at the firm. Our program is centered around the three pillars of (1) career and business development through goal setting and execution, (2) community building and (3) networking. Each participating Associate is supported by a GK Advocates Advisor and Practice Group Mentor. The GK Advocates Advisor, who is a Diversity Committee Member, focuses on helping the Associate better navigate their career and understand the firm culture. The Practice Group Mentor, who is complimented by the GK Advocates Advisor, serves as the professional career advisor and supports the Associate's development as a practicing attorney.
The GK Advocates Program participants receive training around the expectations for the participants; the Associates receive periodic professional development training and guidance. The Associates will have opportunities for community building within their group and also broader networking with the firm's Principals.
Mansfield Rule Certification for Mid-Sized Law Firms
In May 2022, Goldberg Kohn proudly achieved Midsize Mansfield Rule Certification, which recognizes law firms that demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and are making meaningful progress on diversifying law firm leadership. Goldberg Kohn was one of 26 firms certified under the inaugural Midsize Mansfield Certification Program. In 2023, the firm achieved re-certification. Administered by legal equity organization Diversity Lab, and designed to expand on the early successes of the original Mansfield Rule for large law firms, the Midsize Mansfield Certification Program measures whether law firms with between 25 and approximately 150 lawyers have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women lawyers, underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for attorney positions, leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and formal client pitch opportunities.
In 2003, Goldberg Kohn's women attorneys established the non-profit group ENGAGE (working women who Enjoy Networking, Giving And Getting Educated) with the primary objective of bringing together women attorneys and business professionals for networking while participating in social, philanthropic and educational activities. All ENGAGE events benefit a Chicago area charity and revolve around the founding principles: networking, giving and education. Since the first ENGAGE event in February of 2003, the group has educated women on topics ranging from mental health, self-care, sustainability, empowerment and heart health to self-defense and home décor. ENGAGE participation has tripled in size since its origination and has helped support numerous charities and dozens of women-owned businesses.
Standing Together Initiative
In response to the events occurring in the Summer of 2020, further highlighting the grave importance of racial justice, Goldberg Kohn committed even more strongly to the goal of reform and equality of opportunity. Internally, we created the "Standing Together Initiative" to organize our commitment to each other and the Black community, with specific events, donations and volunteer opportunities promoted throughout the year. The first event was the firm's acknowledgment of the Juneteenth holiday; the next was a firm-directed donation and volunteer partnership with My Block My Hood My City, which continues today. Externally, Goldberg Kohn became an Alliance member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), whose charter states its purpose as seeking to "leverage the resources of the private bar to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color, and to promote racial equity in the law and in government institutions."
In 2021, the initiative expanded to support racial justice more broadly, including statements against anti-Semitic hate and anti-Asian hate. The firm partnered with Asian Americans Advancing Justice to provide Bystander Intervention training in July 2021. Most recently, Goldberg Kohn and our employees supported the Chicago Youth Centers Clean Up Day, aimed to provide a clean, organized and safe environment for youth entering Chicago's summer programs. In addition to donating time to clean and paint the Crown Center facility, Goldberg Kohn's generous financial donation helped provide the Center with supplies and resources needed to run its summer programs.
Supplier Diversity Program
Through our Supplier Diversity Program, Goldberg Kohn has intentionally considered the utilization of businesses owned by women, veterans and minorities. These include court reporters, trial support businesses, investigators, local legal counsel, staffing agencies, technology consultants, movers, food services providers, marketing support, photographers, and office repairs and maintenance companies.
Pro Bono Initiatives
Goldberg Kohn is committed to supporting and assisting individuals and organizations in the Chicagoland area and beyond through pro bono representation. Each year, the firm encourages attorneys to identify pro bono opportunities and allocates time to this work that is driven by the interests of the firm’s attorneys. As a testament to the importance that the firm places on the pro bono work in which we are involved, time dedicated to pro bono matters is reflected in our attorneys' annual billable hours totals.
The firm contributes professional skills and substantial resources in cases and projects that assist those who could not otherwise obtain legal representation and supports diverse social causes that increase access to the arts and cultural expressions of Chicago.
In 2022, the firm participated in a Post-Asylum Benefits Clinic and worked with five families to assist them in obtaining green cards. Goldberg Kohn attorneys also worked with Ascend Justice on Domestic Violence Orders of Protection, the ADAPT (advance directives) project, Legal Aid Chicago, Wills for Heroes and Lawyers for the Creative Arts. Goldberg Kohn remains committed to providing pro bono services and looks forward to the return of in-person clinics, such as the Cabrini Green Legal Aid expungement clinics in which our attorneys have participated.
In addition, the firm’s principals established the Goldberg Kohn Foundation, which annually provides financial support to scores of local, regional and national charities, as well as civic and cultural organizations.
Goldberg Kohn provides leadership, pro bono, and financial support to a range of organizations whose mission is promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, and supporting diverse people and communities. Among the many organizations we are proud to support each year, are the following:
- Anti-Defamation League
- Ascend Justice
- Cabrini Green Legal Aid
- Chicago Appleseed
- Chicago Bar Foundation
- Chicago Committee
- Cristo Rey
- Hispanic Executive Magazine
- Judicial Intern Opportunity Program
- Legal Aid Chicago
- University of Illinois College of Law Jones Scholarship Mentorship Program
- National Immigrant Justice Center
- Public Interest Law Initiative
A few notable examples of our partnerships include:
Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois
Goldberg Kohn is a proud sponsor of the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois (HLSF). Formed in 1996, the HLSFs has awarded more than $7 million in scholarships and fellowship opportunities to Latino law students based on merit, financial need and commitment to the Latino community.
HLSF has provided our firm a vehicle for supporting Latino law students, providing both financial support and networking opportunities. As a sponsor of HLSF, Goldberg Kohn has awarded annual scholarships in the amount of $5,000 to deserving Latino law students. Recipients are honored at a reception held each year in Chicago. Our firm is especially proud of our past scholarship recipients, who planned, for example, to use their scholarships to cover living expenses during the summer while working at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, to pay for their bar exam application and preparation course and to continue their crucial public interest work. HLSF was incorporated in Illinois as a Not For Profit Corporation and is recognized as an exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
University of Illinois College of Law Jones Scholarship Mentorship Program
This scholarship is awarded to African-American law students attending the University of Illinois College of Law in Urbana-Champaign who have high academic credentials and who have graduated from a Chicago Public High School. Through this private scholarship foundation, Goldberg Kohn attorneys, from Associates to senior Principals of the firm, engage in a mentoring program with these students.