Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity, there is beauty and there is strength.
At Selman Breitman, we believe the fight for diversity, equity and inclusion, which is the extension of respect and honor to traditionally marginalized populations in our society, is a fight worth pursuing.
The fight includes maximizing our legal performance by professionals who reflect the increasingly diverse demographics of our communities, and the country as a whole. Our established Diversity Initiative mandates that we identify and hire talent from underrepresented communities, which only makes us stronger.
Diversity, equity and inclusion, however, do not just stop at hiring a workforce from traditionally underrepresented communities. For a variety of reasons, female and minority attorneys often do not receive equal opportunities for mentoring and career building. This is not the case at Selman Breitman. We work hard to retain our diverse attorneys through mentorship, meaningful client interaction from an early stage, and exposure to judges and juries. The success of our firm in retaining attorneys from diverse backgrounds is reflected in our partnership ranks. The percentage of female partners within our firm, for example, is second to none.
We understand that our clients demand that we be on the front lines of the fight for diversity, equity and inclusion. However, our fight is not merely about trying to please clients in order to maintain good relationships, though that is a meaningful byproduct of our efforts. Instead, our firm makes grassroots efforts to reach out to the communities in which we live and work, to help underprivileged members pursue their American Dream, because it is the right thing to do.
We partner with numerous community groups, local schools, and organizations to increase community involvement. We participate in continuing education programs regarding the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, and the elimination of bias within the legal profession. An essential part of what we do is reach out to encourage high school and college students from diverse backgrounds to consider our noble legal profession as a viable path. We model the fact that there are opportunities for people from underprivileged backgrounds to attend law school, with help and guidance.
The organizations with which we partner have done great things in the community including hosting and sponsoring multiple events for underprivileged children, pre-law students, law students, and junior associates.
Selman Breitman fights hard in the courtroom for our clients and fights just as hard to make sure our firm reflects the values of the wonderfully diverse and vibrant communities in which we live and work. As the demographics of our communities change, we are uniquely qualified to handle the opportunities presented by such change.
All of us, no matter our station in life, can make a positive difference in the lives of others. Selman Breitman is a place that encourages everyone to seek out such opportunities, and we do so every day.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
At Selman, we are dedicated to advancing the careers of our attorneys and are proud to have women, racial/ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ partners serve in significant leadership positions throughout the firm. Currently, women, racial/ethnic minorities and LGBTQ make up more than 50 percent of the firm’s partners. We will continue to encourage our attorneys to seek leadership positions and to encourage our attorneys to be active in the community.
Selman Breitman supports bar associations and organizations focused on women, minority, and LGBTQ that provide networking, professional development, and business development opportunities for our attorneys. A number of the firm’s attorneys have held leadership positions in the Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association, the Filipino Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association.
Selman Breitman has partnered with the Orange County Coalition for Diversity in the Law. The OCCDL was initially established to provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds with opportunities and guidance to pursue careers in the law. The organization recently expanded its focus to increase the number of diverse candidates in the door at firms, and to retain and promote these individuals within their respective firms. This partnership has also involved MCLE presentations on diversity, providing financial support and other resources to high school and college students who show an interest in the law, supporting the Public Law Center, a non-profit agency that provides legal advice to low-income residents; and partnering with minority student associations at several local colleges.
Selman Breitman has been a dedicated supporter of the Asian American Bar Association and Minority Bar Coalition, sponsoring the Annual Summer Diversity Reception and Annual Gala. Selman Breitman is an active sponsor and participant in AABA's Pathways to Law Conference, a conference designed to encourage high school, college, and post-college students, especially those with diverse backgrounds, to consider law school and the legal profession. The panelists, all from diverse backgrounds themselves, ensure that attendees connect with those preenting.
Elaine Fresch is a Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) who is dedicated to meeting the professional development needs of the claims and litigation management industries. CLM’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee advances the organization’s mission of inclusion, identifies and supports practices which demonstrate leadership in common core values, and offers unique opportunities to strengthen CLM’s partners and perspectives. Elaine was previously Founder and Chair of Women’s Construction Litigation Alliance (WCLA). She and two female colleagues realized that although there were a lot of women in the insurance, construction, and legal fields, there were not a lot of women participating in industry seminars or addressing the challenges women face in these mostly male dominated fields. WCLA conducted educational seminars and networking events and eventually aligned with CLM’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. Along with other involvement and activities, Elaine leads the group in organizing the diversity, equity and inclusion event for CLM’s annual construction conference.
As an attorney coach, Todd Haas and the firm supports the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the San Diego County High School Mock Trial Program by participating and coaching a local high school team at their mock trial competition. The Constitutional Rights Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan, community-based organization dedicated to educating America's young people about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society. The mission of the San Diego County High School Mock Trial Program is to foster understanding and respect for the American legal system and for the rule of law. The program seeks to develop high school students into better citizens by familiarizing them with our Constitution and Bill of Rights through a mock trial competition enhancing students’ ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and work as a team as well as with other members of society. This partnership has also involved civic presentations on resources to high school students who show an interest in the law, supporting the San Diego County High School Mock Trial Program, and partnering with diverse high school student associations to learn about the law, participate in a mock trial, and foster inclusion and diversity in the law.
Danielle Lewis is a Co-Chair with the Community Services Committee (CSC) of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA). CSC partners with the non-profit Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach to facilitate monthly pro bono legal clinics in Oakland and San Francisco, where AABA members can dispense legal advice to indigent clients. Additionally, CSC provides a variety of non-legal service opportunities in the Bay Area, including school beautification projects, building restoration, food bank events, and environmental clean-ups. CSC collaborates with local organizations, companies, and bar associations to provide rewarding service experiences for AABA’s members and their friends and family.
Meka Moore partner in the Los Angeles office, is the President of the developing Los Angeles chapter of the National African American Insurance Association. NAAIA is an organization dedicated to the empowerment of African Americans that are employed or affiliated with the insurance industry. At both national and local levels, NAAIA enhances African Americans presence in the insurance industry through increased awareness of opportunities, education, and networking. As president of the Los Angeles chapter, Meka’s goals include fostering professional excellence through mentorship, and increasing diversity in the local insurance industry. In addition, the Los Angeles chapter is dedicated to support of local youth organizations to increase awareness of careers in the insurance industry and financial literacy.
Neil Selman, the firm’s Managing Partner, serves on the Board of Directors for CASA-LA. CASA’s mission is to have Court Appointed Special Advocates work on behalf of youth in the foster care system and see they receive better care in the areas of placements, education, and their physical and mental health. CASA significantly improves outcomes for the children who have a special advocate and helps them avoid future homelessness or involvement with the criminal justice system. Minority children make up a significant number of the foster children, and beyond Neil’s involvement, the firm is a consistent sponsor and supporter of CASA-LA.
Children who do not get help from groups such as CASA have difficulty when they become of age. Statistics show that 25% of them will be in jail within two years of emancipation. This creates an even greater obstacle to future success. According to children’s attorneys and social workers, children and youth with a CASA volunteer are more likely to receive needed services in a timely manner, be enrolled in an appropriate educational setting, participate in extracurricular activities, have long-term connections to siblings, relatives or other support people, and be on track to graduate high school on time and enroll in post-secondary education.
Melanie Smith serves on the Board of Directors of Foster the Earth which provides educational outdoor and wilderness immersion experiences to underserved youth in the foster care system, young adults that have aged out, and others with limited access to nature and the outdoors, with an emphasis on bonding and teamwork. It works in diverse communities to build and strengthen partnerships between existing local organizations to break down barriers which have historically prevented certain populations from experiencing nature and the outdoors.