In October 2023, the firm welcomed more than 200 new associates to Jones Day and into our New Lawyers Group. As with every class of incoming new lawyers, we brought them to Washington, D.C., for a week to give them an opportunity to learn about Jones Day, meet their new colleagues, and start building the networks that will help them grow and succeed at the Firm and in their careers. This was also an opportunity for our affinity group leaders to welcome new members over dinner at some of our favorite restaurants.
Affinity groups play an important role at Jones Day. We currently have six affinity groups at the firm: Asian Lawyers Affinity Group, Black Lawyers Affinity Group, Hispanic Lawyers Affinity Group, LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, South Asian Affinity Group, and Women's Affinity Group. Membership in these groups is open to all, and many lawyers (like myself) are members of multiple affinity groups.
Affinity groups help strengthen relationships across the firm by connecting lawyers across practices, offices, and even countries. Much like an office or a practice group, an affinity group enables access to another community and smaller networks of people within the firm to meet and get to know—and who, in turn, will get to know and help support you. I've been amazed at how easy it was to meet people through affinity groups, including colleagues I might not otherwise cross paths with in my practice, but who I now speak with on a regular basis. Affinity group programming is also a great way to learn more about people and practices at the firm—we have featured "fireside chats" with firm leaders, webinars on pro bono initiatives, and client panels.
One important goal of an affinity group is to support the growth and development of our members. There are mentor programs (on top of the existing mentoring arrangements for all of our associates), as well as programming on a variety of professional development topics, such as how to be an effective junior associate, self-promotion, and perspectives from in-house counsel. We try to tailor the programming towards junior lawyers and what would be helpful to them in their careers, whether it's learning a particular skill or hearing from more experienced lawyers about what they wish they had known when they were starting out. I think it's important for the senior lawyers to support and promote the junior lawyers—others paved the way for us, and it is now our responsibility to do the same for the next generation of lawyers.
As a means of helping connect junior lawyers throughout the firm, affinity groups regularly send "shout outs" to recognize our colleagues' awards and accomplishments—and not just the legal ones. Several of our affinity groups recently celebrated heritage months (Black History Month, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month) by producing daily "spotlights" of our members, featuring everything from hidden talents to proudest accomplishments to wished-for superpowers, as well as pictures of babies, pets, parents, vacations, celebrity encounters, and food. One of my favorite things about reading these spotlights was learning about the many talents and accomplishments of my colleagues, who are not only brilliant lawyers but also dancers, musicians, world travelers, gourmet chefs, super-parents, and much, much more.
Our affinity groups also do amazing pro bono work. Pro bono is a great opportunity to bond with your colleagues while performing important and meaningful work. Our affinity groups work with a range of national and local organizations on a range of pro bono matters, and one group recently spent a week together in Laredo, Texas, counseling migrants as part of the Firm's Laredo Project, an ongoing firmwide pro bono initiative at the border.
Affinity groups have been a very rewarding part of my experience at Jones Day, and I know many others feel the same.
Yvonne Chan is a partner in Jones Day's Business & Tort Litigation Practice, based in the Boston Office. She co-chairs Jones Day's Asian Lawyers Affinity Group.
The views and opinions set forth herein are the personal views or opinions of the author; they do not necessarily reflect views or opinions of the law firm with which she is associated.
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