Skip to main content

Committed to improving diversity in law

We know that having diverse backgrounds and perspectives working on our patients’ toughest challenges helps us break barriers and explore new frontiers in science.

Our values

Embracing equity, equality, diversity & inclusion (EED&I) is one of our foundational values, and our commitment to improving it is universal and unchanging. We are committed to treating everyone equally, with dignity and respect, and to continuously improving.

We are focused on solidifying AbbVie as an inclusive employer of choice and are tracking employee representation, in our workforce and in our management.

However, we have seen that the legal industry is behind in meeting these same standards. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), as a profession

  • 5% of active lawyers in the United States are African American,
  • 5% are Hispanic, and
  • 3% are Asian,

numbers which materially fail to represent the United States’ changing population demographics.

In 2018, we launched our Diversity in Law initiatives in line with our commitment to creating a self-sustaining culture of promoting equity and leveraging partnerships to demand the change we want to see.

We are also a signatory to ABA Diversity Resolution 113 that seeks to create a legal profession that reflects the public it serves.
 

Putting our values into action

With our commitment to EED&I comes the responsibility to put these values into action. We are committed to furthering EED&I within AbbVie and have committed to closely tracking our progress. Starting from the top, AbbVie legal leaders have specific personal goals to advance the diversity objectives of the organization internally and externally, which are measured and provide accountability.

For instance, each team’s diversity is benchmarked. We also track recruiting results. Bi-annual employee surveys, encompassing each of our leader’s inclusion skills, provide valuable input from the employee perspective.

Within AbbVie’s legal department:

We know advancing our work within our organization is essential if we want to inspire others.



Diversity in law initiatives

Our commitment to EED&I does not stop with our organization – it extends to our partners and vendors. We have the power to influence and require the changes that we want to see from our partners and vendors, including our outside legal counsel.

The Diversity in Law Initiatives also focus on providing the next generation of diverse lawyers access to opportunities and a network. For example, through our IP first year law school internship program, diverse first year law students gain practical firsthand experience working on current patent law issues central to the biopharmaceutical industry while also acquiring a robust network of attorney contacts. Importantly, diverse students have gained the opportunity to see and work with attorneys who support them and serve as models in a STEM field, where there is significant underrepresentation.

We recognize that there is a critical lack of diversity in the legal profession – for instance, at leading national and international law firms, oftentimes less than 20% of the equity partners are female and progress has been very slow for people of color. It’s widely known that law is among the least diverse professions in the nation.

AbbVie’s legal department launched the Diversity in Law Initiatives as part of our commitment to lead by example, advance our foundational principles, and challenge ourselves and our partners to do better.

Core pillars

Implementing targeted recruitment strategies for diverse talent

We need diverse perspectives to tackle our largest challenges, so we must recruit from the widest pool of talent, understand how bias impacts perceived qualifications, and remain an employer of choice.

Ensuring robust plans for development and retention of all talent, including under-represented groups

It is critical to our mission that we identify and grow our talent without bias, ensure all have an opportunity to succeed, and inclusively retain our top talent with a positive AbbVie experience.

Making certain training and awareness resources are provided for continuous improvement, reflection, and growth

It takes work to foster inclusive teams, psychological safety, and cultural sensitivities. We prioritize learning, reflecting, and continuously improving our culture.

Building a pipeline of diverse early career talent and interests

Correcting professional under-representation requires a long-term solution. By reaching students or those early in their career, we can expand horizons, provide opportunities, and grow our pipeline of diverse talent.

Leveraging partnerships to further accelerate diversity as extensions of AbbVie

Outside vendors can be considered extension of AbbVie’s talent who should share our commitment to D&I or we have a responsibility to redirect our spend accordingly.

Measurable goals for outside counsel

Our Outside Counsel Diversity Initiative is intended to implement tangible, measurable change at the law firms we work with, and ensure we are fostering and developing diverse attorneys.

Outside counsel initiatives

We have set a goal to develop a diverse slate of outside counsel talent by 2023, and we are seeing good progress.

We have established concrete targets for women and minority partners at our top firms: the percentage of hours each group bills annually on AbbVie’s matters.

We are also holding ourselves to goals based on our aggregate spend across these firms:

  • Equal female and male partners serving on legal matters
  • Minority partner representation approximately doubles (moving from 8% in 2018 to 15% by 2023)
  • A mix of at least 50% underrepresented lawyers serving on AbbVie matters

We’re seeing improvements already, with more work being done by women and minority partners, and AbbVie has identified promising new female and minority partners in key practice areas.

Billable hours metrics* improved in 2019 compared to baseline.

In 2020, female partners comprised more than 50% and minority partners comprised more than 15% of aggregate billable partner hours on AbbVie matters by outside counsel at our top spend law firms, representing 80% of our overall AbbVie legal spend. And, of all lawyers' billable hours (partners and associates) at our top firms working on AbbVie matters, more than 55% were from historically underrepresented populations in the legal industry. Maintaining diversity and inclusion results like these requires ongoing effort as matters change year over year and new law firms are onboarded.

*AbbVie tracks these gender and diversity goals using billing system data to ensure accuracy and consistency across firms. Other forms of diversity are welcome to be reported voluntarily and contribute toward diversity goals. We also inquire into billing credit practices.

 

IP Law Program

We continue to direct resources and time to areas where the greatest support is needed, such as our Intellectual Property (IP) first year law school internship program for diverse students – an area of the law historically lacking meaningful diversity.

Our IP Law Program provides first-year (1L) law student interns from diverse backgrounds with practical firsthand experience working on current patent law issues central to the biopharmaceutical industry. Additionally, interns are able to develop a robust professional network, including AbbVie attorneys, AbbVie outside counsel and prior year’s intern program alumni.

100% of our diverse interns from the IP Group Intern Program have received offers for summer positions or full-time employment upon graduation from top firms. We have also recently expanded the 1L internship program to other practice areas to include a corporate legal rotation program.

 

Ratings and recognitions

The work we do at AbbVie hasn’t gone unnoticed. We are consistently recognized for our diversity and inclusion, including recognitions specific to our legal department like the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Benchmark Award and Chambers In-House Outstanding Contribution to Furthering the Advancement of Diversity in the Legal Profession Award.

See our full list of recognition awards.

 

On November 5, 2020, the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law awarded AbbVie’s Chief Legal Officer, Laura Schumacher, the 2020 Benchmark Award in recognition of our Legal Department’s work and commitment to advancing the position of women in the legal industry.

Founded in Chicago in 2008, the Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law is a non-profit membership association of more than 120 law firms and companies across the United States. Its purpose is to foster career advancement and professional development, promote dialogue, and provide a support network among members to help address the many issues facing women lawyers and advance women's empowerment initiatives. The Benchmark Award is given to the organization that demonstrates excellence in the legal professional, understands and consistently advocates for gender parity in the legal profession, and encourages women in the profession to accept opportunities and challenges and to expand their circle of influence.

 

AbbVie’s Chief Legal Officer, Laura Schumacher was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Furthering the Advancement of Diversity in the Legal Profession in June 2019 for her outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Chambers Diversity and Inclusion is led by Head of Chambers D&I, Dee Sekar and aims to promote the advancement of inclusion across the global legal profession through research, training, workshops, forums and awards.

Leadership perspectives


A GC’s Blueprint for Improving Legal Diversity
Our Chief Legal Officer, Laura Schumacher, reflects on our progress thus far as well as our long-term goals, and offers guidance for other corporations to enact change.

Learn More

“You don’t look like a lawyer”
Laura Schumacher discusses the stigmas women face in the legal industry on International Women’s Day and calls upon clients and corporations to choose to challenge these stereotypes and drive accountability for gender and racial diversity.

Learn More

Demanding the Change We Want
Laura Schumacher discusses pushing for much-needed change for greater diversity in the legal industry and continuing the important conversations that have driven the industry’s progress so far.

Learn More

AbbVie CLO Wants Lawyers ‘Actively Engaged’ with Outside Firms
Laura Schumacher is featured in an interview with Bloomberg Law regarding AbbVie’s initiatives with key outside counsel as well as the firms’ measurable progress in diversity thus far.

Learn More

One Company’s Championing Of Diversity
In an interview with Above the Law, Joy Lyu Monahan, AbbVie’s Associate Director, Legal Diversity and Outside Counsel Programs about the innovations that AbbVie has pioneered, and what in-house legal departments and law firms can learn from AbbVie’s initiatives.

Learn More

Working Toward Legal Justice and the Integrity of Our System
Jennifer Lagunas, our Vice President of Corporate Legal, Governance and Operations, shares her thoughts on Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative’s perspective on pushing for an equitable and just legal system for all.

Learn More

Reflecting on How Inclusive Teams Thrive
Our Vice President of Corporate Legal, Governance and Operations, Jennifer Lagunas, reflects on the powerful message Andrés Tapia shared with AbbVie about inclusion and equity for team members through a focus on community, recognition and mentorship.

Learn More