March 24, 2011

Baker & Daniels' Brita Horvath Promoted to Manager of Diversity and Pro Bono

Brita A. Horvath, a key figure in coordinating Baker & Daniels' expansion of diversity and pro bono programs over the last 3½ years, has been promoted to manager of diversity and pro bono at the law firm.

"Brita has devoted her full-time attention to enhancing and developing programs that improve and expand access to justice for underserved individuals and communities," said Joe Smith, a Baker & Daniels partner and chair of the firm's diversity committee. "She has worked just as diligently on strategic plans and implementations to further diversity initiatives. We're proud of what she's accomplished and looking forward to the firm's continued commitment in these areas."

When Baker & Daniels hired Horvath as diversity and pro bono coordinator in 2007, it marked the first time an Indiana law firm created a full-time position devoted strictly to diversity and pro bono.

Horvath has been instrumental in helping Baker & Daniels extend its pro bono and public interest work to dozens of projects, engagements and cases impacting communities, states, the nation and the world. Some of the firm's most recent initiatives include:

  • Team teaching a course on civil law with Eli Lilly and Company attorneys at Indianapolis Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy last fall through the Street Law's Corporate Diversity Pipeline Program. The national program matches urban schools with volunteers from corporate legal departments to encourage students of color to enter the legal profession.
  • Helping launch Indiana's first medical-legal partnership through Wishard Health Services in 2008 to create a comprehensive care and advocacy plan for patients whose health is impacted by social determinants of disease. In 2010, the firm assisted in expanding a program with Wishard's EMBRACE Clinic, which provides women cancer patients with holistic services and comprehensive care.
  • Offering and organizing pro bono services and programs to domestic violence victims; at-risk children, individuals and families of modest means requiring in-court representation in a range of civil litigation contexts through existing legal service programs and clinics; veterans seeking assistance to receive benefits or appealing denial of benefits; deployed national guard personnel and their families; minority businesses; individuals requiring immigration and political asylum assistance; pro se defendants before federal and state appellate courts; capital litigation defendants; low income seniors requiring end-of-life documentation; Holocaust survivors seeking reparations; youth sports programs; and artists of modest means requiring legal assistance and community arts organizations.

For three consecutive years, Baker & Daniels has received a top rating of 100 percent in the Corporate Equality Index, an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The survey examines corporate policies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in various industries throughout the United States. Other recent diversity initiatives at Baker & Daniels include:

  • Awarding $10,000 diversity scholarships each year and a place in the summer associate program to two second-year law students of varied ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, IU Maurer School of Law-Bloomington or University of Notre Dame Law School.
  • Undergoing an extensive diversity audit by Boston-based Global Novations that featured research, assessments, interviews and focus groups and then conducting approximately 30 diversity training sessions for lawyers, paralegals, consultants, department directors and support staff.
  • Visiting Indiana law schools annually to present a lunch program on diversity and the legal profession.
  • Hosting a lunch program and social activity for the incoming class of Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunities' Fellows each summer.
  • Participating in numerous minority and diversity job fairs to enhance law student recruitment.
  • Supporting a diversity committee with seven subcommittees and more than 60 participating professionals (including over 40 lawyers) representing each of the firm's Indiana offices.
  • Creating a Women's Forum network that addresses the needs and priorities of the firm's female attorneys and consultants, which includes internal and external networking, identifying professional growth opportunities, and providing a forum for women attorneys and consultants to share ideas and concerns.

Before joining Baker & Daniels, Horvath was director of section services for the Indiana State Bar Association. While earning a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, she was active in a number of pro bono activities and received the Berlon Pro Bono Award for outstanding pro bono and community service. Horvath also earned her bachelor's degree from IU.

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