Riker Danzig has a long history of commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We are proud of our heritage as a leader in promoting women and people of color, including some who broke traditional leadership barriers within law firms, and others who built on their foundation at Riker to break new ground in the courts and government. While the Firm takes pride in its strong tradition, we recognize that persistent vigilance is required to combat the ongoing and pervasive issues of systemic racial bias and other forms of discrimination in many aspects of our society, including several areas of the justice system.
Therefore, the Firm views its commitment to diversity and inclusion as more than a static process. It is not enough to just recognize discrimination and social injustice; instead the Firm will remain focused on doing its part to help change attitudes and behavior through action, both within its workforce and throughout its involvement in the community and halls of justice. To that end, the Firm continuously strives to improve, steadfast in our belief that we serve our clients best by promoting and incorporating the different viewpoints reflected by diverse attorneys and staff.
We have put into place a variety of programs intended to recruit, retain, and promote attorneys of a variety of backgrounds, including those traditionally underrepresented in the legal industry. We endeavor to create a diverse team of attorneys and staff who enrich each other with unique life experiences, backgrounds and perspectives in ways that reflect our clients and our communities. It is our belief that this environment fosters excellence, and best serves our clients’ needs. It is also the right thing to do.
The Firm has an established Diversity Committee that consists of Firm leadership, partners, associates, and professional and administrative staff. The Committee meets regularly to plan and execute the Firm’s strategies and initiatives to maintain and improve its diversity and inclusion. The Committee is charged with educating the Firm on diversity issues, supporting and promoting diverse candidates, and representing the Firm at various diversity-related events throughout the year.
In addition, the Firm is committed to celebrating both the uniqueness and commonality in our diversity.
The Firm’s current key initiatives include:
Female attorneys at Riker Danzig have long held positions of leadership in the Firm. Going back to when we were the first major New Jersey law firm to promote a female attorney to partner, we have continued to foster a culture where women advance and excel. When Kelly Crawford was named Firm Co-Chair, she became the first woman to step into that top role among the leading New Jersey firms. Other of our exceptional women attorneys serve on the Management Committee, as practice group chairs, office principal partner, and chairs of Firm committees.
To discuss the unique concerns of our women attorneys and offer opportunities for enhancement of their professional development, the Firm hosts recurring women’s forums. Our women attorneys are consistently singled out by the legal and business communities for distinctive honors, including NJBIZ’s “Power 100” and “Power 50 in Banking,” the New Jersey Law Journal’s “New Jersey Trailblazer,” “Top 40 Women Under 40,” and “Diverse Attorney of the Year,” Best Lawyers’ “Lawyer of the Year,” and Super Lawyers’ “Top 50 Women Attorneys in New Jersey.” See Awards and Honors Methodology.
No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Riker Danzig strives to connect with the top diverse law school students, actively participating in partnerships with diverse hiring programs on law school campuses. Some of the specific recruiting initiatives the Firm is involved with include:
New Jersey Law Firm Group: Riker Danzig maintains an active membership in this Group, which promotes the hiring of minority law school students at the major New Jersey law firms. As part of this effort, we meet regularly to explore new state-wide initiatives that foster diverse hiring. We participate in the NJLFG job fair that is held annually at Seton Hall University School of Law or Rutgers University School of Law. We serve as speakers to the New Jersey Law Firm Group and many attorneys regularly serve as mentors to the program.
Minority Student Program: The Minority Student Program (MSP) is a nationally-acclaimed and highly successful post-admissions program that serves students of any race or ethnicity who are members of groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession, and who have faced discrimination or overcome social and economic hardships. The program takes a proactive approach to help students to succeed in law school by offering legal skills development, academic support, alumni mentoring and networking, internships and other opportunities.
Riker Danzig has supported MSP for decades by providing a paid summer internship for a student. The student takes part in all of the activities and programs offered to our other summer associates. Thus, the MSP student experiences the same work, social functions and educational programs as our other summer associates, and is fully integrated into our summer associate program, which is our main recruiting tool. The Firm also supports the MSP annual fundraiser, the Minority Student Program Banquet. A current Riker Danzig partner who participated in the MSP Program is Jorge Sanchez.
Since its establishment in 1968, MSP has supported almost 3,000 students in their pursuit of a career in the law in New Jersey and nationwide. For more information, please go to https://law.rutgers.edu/minority-student-program.
Minority Recruitment Efforts: The Firm participates in the Black Law Students Association job fairs and requests applicant resumes from law schools with historically large minority enrollments.
Riker Danzig is proud of the following Riker Danzig women and diverse attorneys and alumni who serve(d) on the Bench or in public service, and their achievements as “firsts”:
Many Riker Danzig attorneys and alumni hold leadership positions in affinity bar associations, and some have been recognized for their accomplishments.
Riker Danzig regularly supports events that promote and support diversity within our community, including the following:
On May 11, 2023, Riker Danzig hosted a webinar for alumni, clients and friends concerning “Hot Topics in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” The webinar addressed key DEI issues in the workplace.
Our panel of impressive leaders from business and not-for-profits were:
Riker Danzig partner Edwin F. Chociey, Jr. moderated the lively panel discussion, with program coordination and panel participation by Riker Danzig associate Opeyemi D. Akinde. The panel covered the following specific topics:
In June 2021, Riker Danzig hosted a webinar for alumni, clients and friends on current issues concerning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, including health equity and COVID-19's impact on communities of color. Joining our panel were:
In April 2019, Riker Danzig co-sponsored and hosted a CLE legal community event that addressed implicit bias in the workplace for corporate counsel, attorneys in private practice and those in the public sector. Our event was supported by many affinity bar associations, including the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA-NJ), Association of Black Women Lawyers-NJ (ABWL-NJ), Garden State Bar Association (GSBA), Hispanic Bar Association - New Jersey (HBA-NJ), Morris County Bar Association (MCBA), New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association (NJMLA), and the South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey (SABA-NJ).
Ronald Z. Ahrens, Counsel
Edwin F. Chociey, Jr., Partner
Richelle J. Delavan, Director of Practice Development
Stephanie D. Edelson, Partner
Travis L. Francis, A.J.S.C. (Ret.), Of Counsel
Jennifer Gonzales-Frisbie, Director of Business Development
Sarah Heba-Escobar, Associate
Maha M. Kabbash, Partner
Lance J. Kalik, Co-Managing Partner and Executive Committee Member
Khaled J. Klele, Partner
Corey L. LaBrutto, Associate
Desiree McDonald, Associate
Jorge A. Sanchez, Partner, former Summer Associate and MSP Student
Nakul Y. Shah, Associate
Alison M. Feldman Walsh, Chief Human Resources Officer
Eileen Zhu, Chief Financial Officer
Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee disseminates informative emails to all employees throughout the year, bringing light to dozens of significant days/months of remembrance or celebratory days related to various ethnic or religious traditions and history. We invite you to enjoy some of the fascinating content from our Black History Month communications at the following links: