Last year the Washington Post ran a story which said law firms “are one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation.”
Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the paper said all other leading professions do better. “The legal profession supplies presidents, governors, lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, general counsels, and heads of corporate, government, nonprofit and legal organizations. Its membership needs to be as inclusive as the populations it serves,” the Washington Post said.
“Part of the problem is a lack of consensus that there is a significant problem. Many lawyers believe that barriers have come down, women and minorities have moved up, and any lingering inequality is a function of different capabilities, commitment and choices. The facts suggest otherwise.”
What’s the solution? What can law firms do? Just as importantly, what can their clients do?
In an article written by HB’s Kristin Casler for the LexisNexis® Corporate Law Advisory, she put these questions to Frederick R. Nance of Squire Patton Boggs. Among other things, law firms must give diverse attorneys the opportunity to get out of the office to forge relationships and include them in groups and social situations where they can make connections. A reward structure to support this commitment is key, he said.
As for companies, Nance encouraged companies to look at top-billing law firms they use. If they aren’t diverse, then the company should insist that they become so over a reasonable time frame. Read the full story: Law Firm Diversity – Best Practices for Firms and Companies That Hire Them.