Associate Leadership Institute Selected for 2018 ABA Partnership Awards


The New York City Bar Association’s Associate Leadership Institute (ALI), run by the Office for Diversity & Inclusion, has been selected as a recipient of the 2018 ABA Partnership Awards. The ABA Partnership Awards Program salutes bar association projects directed at increasing the participation and advancement of lawyers of color as well as other underrepresented constituents. The awards are presented annually by the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services, and will be held on August 3.

ALI was established in 2017 as a direct response to the City Bar’s quantitative and qualitative research, through which the City Bar identified several skills imperative to a law firm associate’s career progression. Through keynote speakers, intensive training modules, and networking opportunities, participants are trained on executive presence and communication skills, mentor and sponsor relationships, branding and leadership/management skills and business development. Over 100 law firm associates from 47 law firms have completed the Institute in the first two years of its operation.

Each curriculum topic includes a fireside chat with senior attorneys who describe the topic in the context of their careers, followed by an intensive workshop with a subject-matter expert who provides actionable strategies for improvement, and then a third component, breakout sessions, where a volunteer attorney or coach facilitates a dialogue with the small groups of participants.

The ALI faculty includes leadership from affiliate organizations and initiatives such as the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, 1844, Avant-Garde Network and Lawyers for Empowerment and the Advancement of Diversity. Other faculty includes law firm partners, in-house counsel leadership from financial institutions and executive coaches. A crucial factor for ALI faculty is ensuring that the majority of facilitators and speakers are women, people of color, and/or LGBT attorneys. By seeing themselves reflected in the faculty, participants feel more comfortable asking candid questions in a safe space and the faculty can directly address their concerns.

Based on statistics from surveys conducted before and after sessions, anecdotes and promotions (two participants made partner within 6 months of completing the Institute and several were promoted to Counsel), ALI has served as an important initiative to help bridge the skill gap for mid-level attorneys who seek to make partner, helping to diversify the senior ranks of law firms.