Promoting diversity in IP law: how small actions can lead to big changes


Eldora Ellison and Gaby Longsworth

Promoting diversity in IP law: how small actions can lead to big changes /

Diversity, equality and inclusion are firmly on companies’ agendas in 2020, but how can you make a difference? Eldora Ellison and Gaby Longsworth of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox offer their advice.

2020 may be a year in which so many things are beyond our control—whether it be the global pandemic, divisive politics, or racial unrest—but the reality is that each of us as individuals can make a positive difference in this world. This includes making a difference with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion in IP law. As women—and, inseparably, women of colour—we share some of our experiences and perspectives here. 

If we were to think only about the statistics surrounding diversity in the law, it would be easy to be dismayed, particularly when we look at law firm statistics. According to the National Association for Law Placement’s 2019 Report on Diversity in US Law Firms, just 20% of equity partners in 2019 were women, and only 7.6% of equity partners were people of colour. 

Since black attorneys make up only 2% of all partners, black, female equity partners in law firms—especially in IP law—are practically unicorns. But, unlike unicorns, we do exist!  How did we defy the odds? What lessons can one learn from our experiences? More importantly, how can individuals who want to promote progress actually make a difference? Below, we reflect upon our personal experiences, and offer ideas for actions that could move the needle.

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