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Tapping into New Talent with the Relativity Fellows Program

Johnathan Hill

The Relativity Fellows program launched in April, and we are already loving where it’s taking us. (Applications are open until May 10, and you can learn more about how to apply here.)

Diversity of background and perspective is critical to the healthy growth of any industry, and the legal field is no exception. Still, we often overlook the very first step at greater inclusion: recruiting.

Not every brilliant mind or budding technical expert who can help drive our space forward is browsing LinkedIn or ILTA job listings. So how do we find them and bring them aboard?

We can start right within our own communities.

The mission of the Fellows program is to find, certify, and place untapped talent in the e-discovery, technology, or litigation support field. We’re working with partners in the Chicagoland area to attract and recruit candidates from communities that have been traditionally overlooked.

Forging New Relationships

We’ve seen many promising candidates already apply for our Fellows positions. Those who progress through the process are participating in phone and video interviews and, once social distancing measures are lifted, we’ll conduct in-person interviews with those who reach the final stage of consideration.

Candidates we’ve seen so far have found us via a variety of sources. Outside of word-of-mouth outreach and referrals, we are leaning heavily on community pipeline partners to share the opportunity with their networks. Leveraging these relationships has resulted in a high volume of candidates who are diverse in background, educational level, and mindset.

Among our applicants, we've encountered veterans, single parents, individuals who've been affected by gun violence, community college students, Uber drivers, people with disabilities, and many more. Overall, we're seeing people with a fire in their belly. Chicago is filled with talented people who have been hoping to find opportunities to change their financial and career situations but never had a clear path to doing so. We’re honored to offer one way forward for these bright minds living right next door. 

Gathering Insights from Our Pipeline Partners

The Chicago-area organizations we’re working with—including schools and nonprofits—to find these candidates have been plugged into their communities for years. They know the breadth of talent that’s just waiting to be let loose. And they’re excited to help make that happen.

“The Relativity Fellows program is an innovative approach to attracting diverse talent to the legal and technology sectors, and it demonstrates Relativity’s commitment to accelerating the economic mobility of historically marginalized individuals,” Aarti Dhupelia, vice president of undergraduate education at National Louis University, recently told me. “We are proud to partner with Relativity in this exciting initiative that will expand career opportunities for our motivated students who represent every corner of our great city.”

“Our students are looking for accessible, professional training programs which can reliably prepare them to launch their careers in technology and give them the skills needed to excel,” John Dudley, director of fellow support + persistence at OneGoal, said. “The Relativity Fellows program is going to build our students’ capacity in e-discovery technology while also supporting their personal growth as human beings. Their focus on mentorship as well as allowing space for professional reflection is encouraging for our student applicants who want to be personally understood as well as properly trained.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Relativity, not only around the Fellows program but as companions in striving to close the opportunity divide. At a time when many organizations are cancelling internship programs or rescinding offers, it speaks volumes that Relativity is committed to opening new doors to talent and inviting diversity across a broad spectrum into the e-discovery space,” said Ian McBride, employment placement manager at YearUp. “Being able to share this opportunity with our trainees and alumni has been a powerful tool to offer hope and guidance during this challenging time.”

On top of their typical work, the teams behind these organizations are committed to standing with their stakeholders through the current pandemic. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, many have shifted to virtual learning and support for students or, similar to corporate America, gotten creative with how they keep up morale in their communities. In this new world of digital engagement, some are hosting webinars discussing topics like resilience in the workforce, seeking new partnerships that will help them support those most in need, and even launching podcasts (check out YearUp’s new show, called The Notorious J.O.B., encouraging persistence across the workforce community).  

These are just the latest examples of how our partners are continuing to lift up their communities. Their involvement in the Fellows program is sure to prove invaluable to how we discover, teach, and go on to support our candidates.

Looking Forward to What’s Next

Once candidates are selected, they’ll begin a five-month, full-time fellowship here at Relativity. While here, they’ll focus on six key areas of development:

  • Industry Onboarding. We’ll help Fellows build a comprehensive understanding of the legal and tech fields and become well versed in the e-discovery market.
  • Upskilling. A wide variety of trainings and hands-on learning opportunities will impart new skills, behaviors, and mindsets that are critical to success in our space. 
  • Social Capital. Going beyond hard skills, Fellows will expand their networks, engage with future Fellows, and support one another through the duration of the program and beyond.
  • Mentorship. Leaders from Relativity and our broader community will provide one-on-one coaching and mentorship to Fellows as they learn and grow with us.
  • Certification. All Fellows will become Relativity Certified Users while they’re here, and some participants, depending on role, will pursue the Relativity Certified Administrator certification as well. These qualifications will give them a strong technical advantage in the e-discovery job market.
  • Placement Support. Fellows will use interview training and supporting practicum to develop skills that prepare them for success after graduation.

Now, as ever, we recognize that companies who want to truly innovate can't leave it to the education system alone to fully prepare emerging talent for the workforce. It's our responsibility as employers to share with the entire community what skills, mindsets, and behaviors can help anyone, of any background, move the needle in our organizations.

Our pipeline partners help plant these seeds. The Relativity Fellows program is how we can take it a step further. Learn more about the program here.

Learn How You can Help Solve the Access to Justice Problem

Johnathan Hill leads the community engagement program at Relativity.