As management consultant Peter Drucker has been credited with saying, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Regardless of attribution, the quote came to mind when I was asked to testify before the Maryland Health and Government Operations Committee on proposed legislation that would track the gender, race, and outcome of attorney disciplinary proceedings. In Maryland, anecdotal evidence and preliminary data strongly suggests that a disproportionate number of grievances are brought against solo and small firm lawyers, and attorneys of color, and further, the sanctions meted out are harsher as well. Unfortunately, without real data (such as that available in states like California, New Mexico and Illinois) to corroborate these suspicions, it’s difficult to gain traction for change. Therefore, my testimony endorses legislation that would disclose this important information.
Grievances against solo and small firms and lawyers of color are even more problematic at this juncture in the profession’s history. As I have written many times at MyShingle, private law firms have proven themselves utterly incapable of improving gender and racial diversity in partnership ranks where it actually counts. Consequently, women and minority lawyers are increasingly turning to law firm ownership to achieve the career satisfaction, power, respect and influence that is unattainable at biglaw. So when regulators disproportionately crack down on solo and small law firms, they block the last viable path for success for many women and minority lawyers.
I am testifying via Zoom tomorrow and my testimony is available here.