How To Drive Diversity in the Legal Profession

This month, CEO of Legal Innovators, Bryan Parker, presented at the virtual Clio Cloud Conference on “Equity in Practice: Driving Structural Legal Innovation With Data and Diversity.” In this session Bryan discussed the impact of George Floyd’s murder, the case for diversity, equity and inclusion and the role of data to drive change within the legal industry.

Below are some key takeaways from Bryan’s presentation.

1. Understand The Business Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Legal Profession:

Diversity, equity, and inclusion investments should not be a wholly philanthropic effort. Studies show that there is a strong business case for investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives. To move the needle on DEI, a true strategic imperative includes:

     • Leadership commitment by creating a clear diversity and inclusion strategy.

     • Assigned metrics against cost and profitability, recruiting, assignments and origination credit.

     • Relentlessly measure results and report with transparency.

There is a clear business case for diversity and inclusion in the legal industry. In 2019, the top-quartile of the most diverse companies outperformed those in lowest quartile by 36% in profitability, slightly up from 33% in 2017 and 35% in 2014. Companies with integrated diversity and inclusion strategies reflect 2.3x higher cash flow per employee and are 1.8x more likely to be “change ready,” as well as 1.7x more likely to be market innovation leaders.

2. Recognize The Challenges of Law Firm and Corporate Diversity:

Efforts to implement diversity and inclusion strategies are often derailed because there are not clear goals set by leadership. The legal industry has often lacked innovative thinking and therefore depend on the mentality that “we’ve always done it this way.” Bryan Parker noted that “change management” being accepted companywide is essential for law firms to make progress on a subject they’ve historically struggled with. “Think beyond the four corners of the page and let’s think as a profession. If we have a pipeline problem and a diversity problem at almost all levels, what are the barriers?” he added.

The legal industry has historically maintained the same approach to recruiting, talent development and retention. This approach has contributed to the lack of diverse attorneys because it’s limited to the same pool of top law schools which most firms recruit. Law firms can expand their networks of schools by utilizing data analytics and testing.

This is exactly how Legal Innovators approaches recruiting, training, and mentoring underrepresented attorneys.

Another clear challenge in the legal industry is that diverse attorneys do not see themselves reflected in the firm. When your diverse colleagues are not at the table or in the decision-making process, history will repeat itself.

3. Drive Change at Your Organization: 

We’ve created a framework for diversity and inclusion in the law which includes:

1. Use of data to drive reform through evidence-based systems

     • Data must be clear, transparent, and reported regularly
     • Utilization of carrots and sticks; reward those achieving diversity, equity and inclusion and take away compensation from those falling short.
     • Create more equitable assignment policies
     • Focus on pipeline growth of underrepresented groups.

2. Business and Client Leadership

     • Corporate clients should demand diverse teams and clearly articulate their goals.
     • Invest in companies that invest in women and minority owned businesses.
     • Align supply chain spend with diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

3. Invest in Change Management

     • Firms and corporations must be prepared to receive and assimilate change.
     • Identify champions within your organization

4. Show alternative models of creating pipeline diversity

     • Quality can be shown in a broad number of schools and work environments
     • Data analytics can access readiness
     • Mentoring and training is essential in development, promotion, and retention of the workforce.

Download our framework on how to drive diversity in the legal profession.

Legal Innovators can help you drive change at your organization. Contact us for a complementary assessment.