An Interview with John Harrity, Managing Partner, Harrity & Harrity, LLP

By Mauricio Velásquez, MBA

August 7, 2017- At a recent Association of Legal Administrators, Washington, D.C. Chapter meeting, John Harrity, Managing Partner of Harrity & Harrity, spoke about his firm’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative. Harrity & Harrity is an innovative boutique patent law firm based in Fairfax, VA. When asked about his firm’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, he explained, “We believe that the ‘practice of law’ is advanced by a more diverse legal team – with diversity of
background, upbringing, education, and perspective comes quality legal innovation. At Harrity & Harrity, we are committed to The Supersized Rooney Rule. This is a hiring practice that shows our firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is something that we take seriously; it’s something we’re very proud of.”

The Rooney Rule is a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. But there was a flaw – the football team only had to interview at least one minority candidate for an NFL coach opening but could interview an unlimited number of other candidates. “The Rooney Rule is just not going far enough,” Mr. Harrity said, “we wanted to go much further and so we decided that for every opening – attorney or non-attorney – we are committed to interviewing a female or minority candidate for every male, non-minority candidate we interview.”

After his presentation, I asked Mr. Harrity what sort of benefits his current team could expect to see from their diversity efforts. “We are creating and nurturing a workplace culture that is inclusive, values differences, and is authentic, and we want our team to know we really care about them, their well-being, and their future. This will make us the patent law firm employer of choice. We are looking for good people from all backgrounds to help our team grow and to help us become the number one patent law firm.”

There has been recent press about the Mansfield Rule. This rule, introduced in 2016, requires that women and minorities comprise at least 30 percent of the candidates for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and lateral positions in law firms. Again Mr. Harrity countered, “Just like the Rooney Rule, we don’t think the Mansfield Rule goes far enough.”

Sandra Maxey, Chief Diversity Officer at Harrity & Harrity told me that “making the commitment is one thing, executing the everyday work of finding, hiring, and retaining divers talent is the real challenge. We are fully committed to diversity and inclusion at our firm.”

For more information about Harrity & Harrity’s Diversity Program, please visit their website (www.harrityllp.com/diversity). Please join Harrity & Harrity and the ranks of other law firms in implementing the Supersized Rooney Rule.

Mauricio Velásquez, MBA, is President and CEO of the Diversity Training Group based in Herndon, VA. He can be reached at 703-478-9191 or mauriciov@diversitydtg.com. DTG is in our 21st year of operation.

 

Editor’s Note: The Supersized Rooney Rule was created in 2015 by the Diversity Committee at Harrity & Harrity, LLP. For a brief period in 2017, it was known as The Harrity Rule, however, after careful consideration, the name was changed back.

John Harrity Speaks About Successful Diversity Initiatives at ALA Diversity Panel

On June 15, 2017, John Harrity, Managing Partner and Diversity Partner of Harrity & Harrity, spoke on a diversity panel hosted by the Association of Legal Administrators. Mauricio Velasquez, of Diversity Training Group, began the program with a presentation on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the legal field, and lack thereof.

Kendal Tyre, Partner at Nixon Peabody, discussed diversity initiatives within his firm.  At Nixon Peabody, associates, partners, and support staff, are expected to commit 40 hours annually to diversity initiatives.  Diversity initiatives can include meeting with an affinity group, attending diversity seminars, and attending recruiting functions.  These practices can improve firm morale and maintain a positive culture at the firm.

John Harrity’s presentation focused on internal diversity initiatives and the results that the firm has seen since their launch in 2015.  Despite having a diverse support staff, it is difficult to recruit women and minority patent attorneys.  To change this, Harrity & Harrity has taken the following steps to recruit women and minorities. The first step was initiating the Harrity Rule, which is a supersized version of the Rooney Rule. The Harrity Rule means that we are committed to interviewing a female or minority candidate for every male, non-minority candidate we interview for any position at our firm.  The firm began hiring for reduced hours and remote work positions.  The firm also started a 1L Diversity Fellowship in 2016 and launched the first Diversity Summer Workshop in 2017.

Since the launch of our diversity initiatives in 2015, Harrity & Harrity has hired seven new attorneys, four of whom are considered diverse by the EEOC Diversity Scorecard.  Across the firm as a whole, there have been 18 new hires in the past two years, 12 of whom are considered diverse.

John Harrity says of the seminar, “This was a great opportunity to not only talk about our diversity initiatives, but to share ideas and learn new skills from other firms, as well.  I strongly believe that cultivating a highly diverse firm is one of the keys to success, and I look forward to working towards this goal.”

Harrity & Harrity Launches it’s First Annual Diversity Summer Workshop

Harrity & Harrity wrapped up the 2017 Harrity Diversity Summer Workshop on Friday, May 26.  The workshop brought together ten engineering students, law students, and recent law school graduates to learn the skills involved in being a patent attorney.  During the workshop, participants had an opportunity to learn about patent preparation and patent prosecution, as well as receive mentorship from associates and partners at Harrity & Harrity.

Participants also had opportunities to hear perspectives from attorneys in other positions throughout the country.  Teresa Rea, former acting director of the USPTO, met with participants and provided advice about forging a career as a patent attorney, balancing life and work, and government service.  Similarly, Allen Lo, Deputy General Counsel for Patents at Google, and Courtney Holohan, Chief IP Counsel at Accenture, gave tips for succeeding as an attorney and navigating career paths and opportunities.  Participants ended the week receiving hands on advice on crafting their resumes and cover letters, practicing mock interview skills, and traveling with Harrity & Harrity attorneys and support staff to see a Washington Nationals game.

Sandra Maxey, Chief Diversity Officer, says of the workshop, “This week was an incredible success, and we hope to start looking for participants for our 2018 workshop soon to help diverse students with an interest in the patent field gain the skills to succeed as private practice attorneys, patent examiners, and in-house counsel.”