Year in and year out, we watch law firm after law firm and legal department after legal department pay lip service to their commitment to diversity in the legal profession, with promises to recruit, retain, and promote more minority attorneys. If there’s ever going to be any real change in the legal industry, diversity has to be more than just a buzzword — it must be a priority at every law firm and legal department. Now, with the assistance of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), things may finally be moving in the right direction.
In 2020, the LCLD began an initiative asking member law firms and legal departments to make personal and organizational pledges for the advancement of diversity in the legal profession. The initiative reached its conclusion this month, with the hundreds of law firms and legal departments leaders putting their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on paper.
The American Lawyer has the details:
Leaders of the country’s largest law firms and corporate legal departments have committed to increasing their sponsorship of diverse attorneys, developing succession plans that include diverse attorneys, and collaborating with clients to advance the careers of attorneys from underrepresented groups, according to a review of managing partner and general counsel pledges submitted to the [LCLD]. …
[T]he leaders of over 400 law firms and legal departments made commitments to continue existing DEI efforts and implement new measures, such as offering billable hour credits for DEI initiatives and reviewing DEI contributions in partner compensation. …
Reviewing the member pledges, which the LCLD has posted as they arrived since fall 2020, the organization’s Board of Directors found several common areas of improvement: sponsorship, succession planning, and collaboration between law firms and clients.
“I’m very excited with the idea that we are posting the strategic initiatives that our members are using to advance diversity in the organization,” LCLD president Robert Grey said in an interview with the American Lawyer. “The purpose was to create transparency and accountability, but also to create an opportunity where there could be more learning and piloting of ideas by sharing with each other.”
What is your law firm or legal department doing to meaningfully support diversity in the legal profession? We’d love to learn more. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or text us at (646) 820-8477. Thanks.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.