Williams Kastner has a long-standing passionate commitment to diversity. As a firm, we embrace diversity through our statement of values—our firm’s policy statement, our people, our work and our support for, and participation in, community programs and projects which foster diversity.
The policy statement for Williams Kastner outlines this commitment as part of its strategic plan: Williams Kastner’s strategic plan requires all aspects of human diversity amongst the persons who are its owners and employees.
In order to obtain diversity we must actively seek it. Each element and activity of recruitment and hiring for employment must take diversity into consideration.
In order to maintain and nurture diversity, each of us must not only understand and tolerate the differences between ourselves and those with whom we work, but more importantly, we must outwardly manifest our desire to embrace those differences as a positive good benefiting everyone. This understanding and appreciation must be reflected positively by our everyday words and deeds. Finally, we must understand that as an organization, these very differences will provide the excellence we seek in our practitioners and support staff that will give us a competitive edge in the delivery of client services.
Our commitment to diversity shapes our firm’s culture, dynamic, workforce and approach to business.
- 2009 Diversity Award From Puget Sound Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators
- DRI Renames its Pioneer Diversity Award After Sheryl J. Willert, Managing Director, Williams Kastner
- Washington State Bar Association – Affirmative Action Award
Our Leadership Reflects Our Achievements
In 1990, Williams Kastner Senior Member and Managing Director Sheryl J. Willert was the only African-American woman Partner working in the 10 largest law firms in the Puget Sound area. When Ms. Willert was unanimously elected the firm’s Managing Partner in 1996 (now called Director), she was one of only a half-dozen women in the country to be honored with such an appointment at firms of comparable size (“From Outsider to Insider,” 82 ABA Journal 24 November, 1999). She was also one of only three females to become a Managing Director among the 25 largest law firms in the Pacific Northwest, and the only African-American woman to achieve a Managing Partner position in firms of comparable size in the country.
Ms. Willert’s accomplishments and personality have truly advanced the cause of women in the legal profession. She has encouraged and inspired women attorneys and removed barriers in a profession dominated by men. Ms. Willert was the first person of color to serve as an officer on the Board of the Defense Research Institute, a national organization of more than 22,000 defense counsel. In 2002 she was elected to the top position, and served as the organization’s 2002-2003 President.
Puget Sound Area Minority Clerkship Program
In 1991, Williams Kastner joined other area law firms, the Hispanic and Loren Miller Bar Associations (the latter represents African-American attorneys), and the area’s two law schools to found the Puget Sound Area Minority Clerkship Program. Through the PSAMCP, the participating law firms and corporate legal department employers provide summer clerkship positions for minority first-year law students from the University of Washington and Seattle University Schools of Law. Since its inception, the program has seen an increasing number of minority law students join area law firms and corporate legal departments, with at least one participant becoming a judge.
Now beginning its 21st year, the program is based on the National Minority Clerkship Program, which was designed and endorsed by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession. It has been endorsed by the Asian, Hispanic, Northwest Indian, and Seattle-King County Bar Associations, and by the University of Washington and Seattle University Law Schools’ Alumni Associations. In 1997, the PSAMCP received the WSBA’s Affirmative Action Award, “in recognition of the Program’s contributions in creating and advancing career opportunities for minorities in the legal profession.”
Northwest Minority Job Fair
Since its inception in 1986, Williams Kastner has participated in The Northwest Minority Job Fair. This annual event, that features more than 50 law schools from across the country, fosters access to employment opportunities for historically underrepresented persons in the practice of law and provides a networking forum for legal employers and minority law students.
Not-for-Profit Organizations Directly Supported by Williams Kastner through Donations and/or Volunteer Work and Participation:
Asian Bar Association
IMN Native American Finance Conference
King County Bar Association Neighborhood Legal Clinics Program
Korean American Bar Association
Latino/a Bar Association of WA – Scholarship Program
Loren Miller Bar Association
Minority Bar Associations of Washington – Statewide Diversity Program
Minority Summer Associate Symposium
Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association
Native American Economic Development
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Northwest Indian Bar Association
Puget Sound Minority Clerkship Program
Seattle University School of Law – Black Law Students Association Scholarship
United Indians All Tribes Foundation
University of Washington Diversity Scholarship Mentoring Program
Washington Law School Foundation Diversity Scholarship
Washington State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Women’s Funding Alliance
Williams Kastner has an active and engaged Diversity Committee comprised of firm management, members, associates and staff. Our committee meets monthly and examines all firm activities to ensure that our diversity objectives are achieved and continue to move forward.
Jessie L. Harris, Chair
Michelle M. Garzon
Claire J. Hur
Ross D. Jacobson
Arissa M. Peterson
Bill Viall, Chief Operations Officer
Sheryl J. Willert, Managing Director
Jeffrey M. Wolf
Arun Mistry, Director of Marketing & Business Development