The legal industry is among the least diverse in the United States. In an article published by American Lawyer in July 2017, “Client Calls for Diversity at Fever Pitch,” the authors reported, “…The representation of women in the equity partner ranks has been stuck at around 18 percent for the past decade and the percentage of minority equity partners has actually dropped 2 percent since 2011 at a national level. Many legal departments have made their own progress internally, and they want their law firms wholeheartedly “all in” on their journey to greater diversity and inclusion as a profession. And, as legal departments narrow their rosters of outside counsel to shortlists of preferred providers, they have even greater leverage to set more rigorous diversity and inclusion expectations.”
 
To improve diversity and inclusion in majority owned law firms, many General Counsel are pressing their outside firms to make their teams more diverse at all levels of seniority. Some companies mandate that women and ethnic minorities account for a substantial portion of law firm teams working on their matters. If they do not comply, they run the risk of a financial penalty or being eliminated altogether from approved panelists. Others reward firms that use diverse counsel with financial bonuses and/or recognition awards. The Diversity Lab (www.diversitylab.com) has developed the “Mansfield Rule” requiring at least 30% of law firms’ candidate pools for leadership or governance roles-as well as equity partner promotions and senior lateral positions-be comprised of women or minorities. Those that comply can style themselves as “Mansfield Certified.”
 
While the above mentioned initiatives are a positive development in majority-owned law firms, there has been less attention paid to “true” supplier diversity in the legal profession-i. e. the role MBE, WBE, and LGBT certified attorneys, law firms, and legal service providers should play to help corporate legal departments achieve their diversity goals. Continue reading by clicking here>>View White Paper

 

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