Harter Secrest & Emery is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace, enhancing diversity, and providing a safe and healthy work environment in which all colleagues are treated equally—with respect and dignity.  

Our greatest strength lies in our talented team, who are empowered to use their varied backgrounds and perspectives to provide high-quality, responsive and cost-effective service, to give back to our community, and to make HSE a great place to work. We know that this mission is best accomplished by bringing together people from varied backgrounds and perspectives who apply their unique expertise and experiences to the complex legal issues our clients face.

In 2017, HSE was awarded the Diversity Award by the Western New York Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York during the association’s annual awards ceremony. We were the first recipient of the Award that recognizes individuals or organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting full and equal participation in the legal profession through the encouragement and involvement of women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and/or persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. View Harter Secrest & Emery Receives Diversity Award from WNY Chapter of Women’s Bar Association press release.

2019 Harter Secrest & Emery LLP Diversity Scholarship

Established in 2005, this scholarship includes a $7,500 award to be applied to the recipient’s law school tuition, together with a paid summer associate position at the firm. The scholarship is awarded annually to a first-year student selected based on his or her academic record, professional accomplishments and other factors that indicate promise for a successful career in the legal profession.
Download the 2019 Diversity Scholarship Application and FAQs

2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Student Essay Contest

In 2019, the Firm sponsored the 9th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest. The topic of this year’s essay was, “If you could talk to Dr. King today, what would you suggest that we can do now to help make his message of understanding and appreciating our differences come true?” The contest was open to all third, fourth, and fifth grade students enrolled in the Rochester City School District. After reviewing an impressive total of 278 essay submissions, Harter Secrest & Emery’s Diversity Committee identified the top submissions, and members of the firm selected one winner at each grade level. Winning students were awarded a special personal prize and a $50 gift card, and teachers were given a $200 gift card to be used for school supplies. The winning classrooms also won a pizza party.

Our Focus

Our Diversity Committee helps the firm achieve and maintain a level of diversity that reflects the demographics of the communities we serve, while encouraging an inclusive environment of appreciation and respect. The Committee meets monthly to review opportunities, plan and coordinate diversity-related events, and act as advocates for our diverse colleagues.

Education and Awareness

Throughout the year, the firm hosts speakers and presentations that provide insight and awareness on a range of topics including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights, LGBTQ rights, racism, and other important issues.

Social Responsibility and Community Involvement

We have decades of involvement and financial support for organizations that serve our diverse communities including these initiatives:

YWCA Empowering Women Luncheon

We sponsor tables at the annual YWCA’s Empowering Women Luncheon, which features keynote speakers sharing stories of the strength and achievement of women. The funds raised through the luncheon help the YWCA provide housing and support services for over 1000 women and families each year.

Stand Against Racism Campaign

HSE has participated in the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism for the past several years. Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities.

Spread the Word to End the Word Awareness Program

We have joined organizations such as Special Olympics and Best Buddies to “Spread the Word to End the Word”, a program which raises awareness about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed).” The Spread the Word movement asks people to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

Commitment to Community

HSE encourages and supports attorney involvement in professional and community-based diversity organizations. Below are just a few examples of the many organizations the firm and our attorneys support, both financially and with service.

  • Buffalo Urban League Membership and Annual Awards Dinner

  • Empire Justice Center

  • Human Rights Campaign

  • National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York

  • Seneca Nation Athletic Dinner (Hall of Fame)

  • The Minority Bar Association of Western New York Annual Scholarship Dinner

  • The Minority Corporate Counsel Association Annual Conference

  • The National Bar Association

  • The Rochester Black Bar Association

  • The Rochester Black Business Association

  • Western New York Black MBA Association Annual Meeting

Nurturing Diversity

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Student Essay Contest

We sponsor the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Student Essay Contest in conjunction with the Rochester City School District. Students in the third, fourth and fifth grades submit essays that discuss what Dr. King’s message means to them. Each year, a specific essay theme is assigned that addresses Dr. King's important and continuing work. Winning students and their teachers receive prizes and the winning student’s classroom enjoys a pizza party on us.

Workforce Diversity Network

HSE is a member of the Workforce Diversity Network, which is a network of professionals and organizations dedicated to being a catalyst to enhance professional development, understanding, promotion and management of diversity and inclusion as an essential part of business success. The WDN states as its primary focus, the creation of a learning community in the business world to address diversity and its benefits. As a member company, HSE partners with WDN by hosting meetings and participating as sponsors of signature events.

For questions or to learn more about our Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, please contact:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Diversity Committee Co-Chair

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Diversity Committee Co-Chair


This website presents only general information not intended as legal advice. Although we encourage calls, letters and emails from prospective clients, please keep in mind that merely contacting Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Confidential information should not be sent to HSE until you have been notified in writing by HSE that a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Information sent to us before then may not be treated as confidential by HSE or the court.

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