At the Pierce Atwood law firm, we value and respect the differences among all people, believe that our differences enhance our results, and recognize that only a diverse and inclusive workplace can provide the best ideas, the best resources, and the best people to serve our clients.

We believe that diversity means celebrating the differences among individuals. We value the unique characteristics, thoughts and experiences that are shared at our law firm every day. The ideals of diversity are integrated into our law firm's long-established guiding principles of creating a welcoming, caring, and enjoyable place for our attorneys and staff to work.

In 2006 Pierce Atwood formed a Diversity & Inclusion Committee to develop a strategic diversity planning process. Composed of lawyers and staff, and reporting directly to the firm management, the committee is dedicated to developing and implementing a variety of initiatives to diversify the firm’s workforce. With the assistance of an independent diversity consultant, the firm pinpointed its most challenging issues and developed the first Pierce Atwood Diversity Plan. The goals of that plan, which we continue to pursue, are:

  • Provide and foster firmwide support for diversity initiatives
  • Provide ongoing diversity education to all firm members
  • Enhance the firm’s mentoring program

In our firm and in our communities, we pursue diversity ideals in numerous ways.

In an effort to reach a diverse population of candidates, we participate in diversity job fairs, target certain publications and social networks, and partner with numerous bar associations.

Through our sponsorship of the McKusick Diversity Fellowship at the University of Maine School of Law, McKusick Fellows have an opportunity for a paid internship at Pierce Atwood.

We also believe that to recruit and retain new associates, we must demonstrate our commitment to diversity by providing diverse role models who can initiate and maintain rich, fulfilling mentorship relationships.

Our staff recruitment efforts also include participating in community organizations such as the Diversity Hiring Coalition of Maine and the Maine Catholic Charities Refugee Program.

In 2017, our Diversity & Inclusion Committee worked with internal stakeholders responsible for recruitment and hiring, along with internal subject matter experts within our employment and HR departments, to review our recruiting/interviewing and hiring processes to determine any areas for improvement.

Pierce Atwood is pleased to be a leader in gender diversity. In 1945, we were the first major law firm in Maine to hire a female attorney, Ms. Sigrid Tompkins. In 1953, she became the first female partner at a Maine law firm. Today, women serve in a variety of leadership roles across the firm, as members of the Management Committee and as Practice Group Leaders. Gloria Pinza served as managing partner from 2009-2015, and the firm had a woman as Chief Operating Officer from 2008-2014.

For many years, we have led the way in helping lawyers and their families balance the demands of their professional and personal lives by offering flexible work schedules and generous paid parental leave policies for birth and adoptive parents.

We provide opportunities for our attorneys and staff to facilitate education and conversation around diversity related issues relevant in today’s society.  For example:

  • Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee has facilitated anti-racism book and movie discussion groups, to provide an opportunity to join together in learning more about the complex issue of racism as we navigate this important time in our country. Our hope is that these groups will allow us to benefit from the insights of leading scholars, as well as our colleagues, and to build internal bonds that will help us tackle challenges relating to diversity, inclusion and equity with increased strength. In the initial phase, 35 participants gathered in small groups to discuss Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving; and/or White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
  • We hosted nationally prominent racial justice advocate DeRay Mckesson, host of the podcast “Pod Save the People,” at a firmwide lunch in 2020. DeRay’s talk covered how we, as members of the legal profession, can become more aware of the impact of our behaviors and communications on racial minorities and what we can do to improve racial equity and inclusion in our communities.
  • At another firmwide lunch, guest speaker Wayne Maines, father of Nicole Maines, shared with us how he worked through his own prejudices and biases to become a strong advocate for his transgender daughter and transgender rights, as well as the impact of the legal system on his family’s story. The family’s story is chronicled in the New York Times bestseller, Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt.
  • We also hosted a renowned diversity expert to speak to all firm employees on implicit bias in our culture, workplace, and the media.

Pierce Atwood also supports diversity in the communities in which we live and work. For example:

  • We are pleased to sponsor the McKusick Diversity Fellowship at the University of Maine School of Law. Named for a former Pierce Atwood managing partner and Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, this fellowship provides tuition and other support to students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, with a goal of increasing the diversity of the student body at the law school and in Maine’s legal community.
  • In 2020, we established the Ralph I. Lancaster, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, in honor of our longtime partner, to help provide financial assistance to exceptional incoming University of Maine School of Law students with a demonstrated financial need.
  • We are a founding sponsor, and continuing sponsor, of the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, with four women attorneys appointed to their Leader’s Network and one on the Board of Directors.
  • Pierce Atwood sponsored the placement of an intern at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination as part of the 2021 Boston Bar Association Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summer Fellowship Program.
  • We support the DEI efforts of NAIOP Massachusetts, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, through our contributions as a Silver Gavel Member.
  • As president of the Tufts Lawyers Association, Pierce Atwood construction law partner Tom Dunn spearheaded a series of webinars discussing racial disparities in the legal profession.
  • Pierce Atwood was a sponsor of the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston and its 14th Annual Gala & Awards Dinner; Karishma Jiva Cartwright, an associate in our Patent group, served as Vice President of this organization in 2018 and 2019.
  • We are a supporter of Maine Boys to Men, whose mission is to end male violence against women and girls, by investing in the healthy development of boys and men.
  • In September 2018, Pierce Atwood’s Portland office hosted a CLE Ethics program "Professionalism, Conduct and the #MeToo Movement,” featuring Maine State Bar Association President Susan Driscoll and Executive Director Angela Weston discussing results of a survey sent to all Maine-licensed attorneys which explored the occurrence of harassment and discrimination among lawyers in the workplace.
  • Pierce Atwood is a sponsor of the Hispanic National Bar Association Region I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). HNBA is the National Voice of the Hispanic legal community, working to improve the quality and the administration of justice by advocating for the interests of the Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, paralegals, legal assistants, and law students.
  • We support Freedom for All Massachusetts, which is working to protect equal rights for transgender individuals.
  • Through the DC Public School Partnership Program of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, we provide ongoing support to Anne Beers Elementary School in Washington, DC, including tutoring, mentoring, and other academic enrichment services.
  • We are a sponsor of the Rhode Island Urban Debate League, a program for high school students to improve academic outcomes and increase college readiness.
  • In July 2020, in response to the rising calls for structural change within our society following the killing of George Floyd, Pierce Atwood launched our Racial Justice Initiative, a three-pronged approach to promoting racial justice in our communities through targeted pro bono initiatives and transactional support.
  • Each year, firm attorneys and paralegal staff are pleased to provide hundreds of hours of pro bono legal assistance in immigration and asylum cases referred by the Immigration Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP). We have represented clients from Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Haiti, Liberia, Burundi, Rwanda, and other countries where war, political instability, and violence have created extraordinary hardships. 
  • We serve as local counsel to GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) for Maine and played a central role in the successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Click here to learn more about the firm’s pro bono efforts.

Pierce Atwood has joined forces with  various Maine law firms, corporate partners, and University of Maine School of Law for this program that invites first-year law students from across the county to apply for a paid summer associate internship at one of the participating organizations in Portland, Maine. Click here for more information on this unique collaboration.