Diversity and inclusion: an issue the legal industry can no longer ign

To meet the needs of clients who compete in a global market as diverse the entire world, law firms must evolve their hiring practices to intentionally create a more diverse workforce. 

While many feel we’ve made significant inroads in this area, the data and the insights of diverse legal professionals tell us we have more work to do to truly become a diverse and inclusive industry.  

In 2017 black associates made up 5 percent of attorneys in Big Law even though law schools have boasted record increases in minority student admissions in recent years. [1] In the opinion of a 2015 graduate of North Carolina Central University School of Law, a historically black university,

“the lack of diversity that my colleagues and I experience shows the need for an intense look at diversity initiations surrounding recruitment and retention of those notoriously underrepresented throughout the legal profession.”

The outlook for women, and particularly minority women, is similarly bleak. When asked about the opportunities for minority women entering the legal field one recent graduate of Howard University School of Law said,

“Diversity and Inclusion are more than just words. Working in an intersectional environment, where management aggressively commits to diversity and inclusion as an important part of the organization’s culture has been the best decision I could make for my career. Any organization that fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion wants employees to be seen and valued. That adds value to any organization because individuals can bring what makes them successful to the table.”

Minority applicants are not the only ones who recognize the need for firms to commit to diverse hiring practices. In a survey, 47 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 35 reported the existence of strong diversity and inclusion programs as being a chief consideration when choosing among potential employers. [1]

As the global market becomes more competitive, a stronger move to diversify the representation in a law firm’s talent pool is more important now than ever. The legal industry needs diverse perspectives that can offer exemplary client services and quality work to tackle the challenges of a rapidly changing global economy.

 

[1] https://www.enjuris.com/students/law-school-race-2018.html

[2]https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/jiop/articles/2018/diversity-and-inclusion-in-the-law-challenges-and-initiatives/

[3] https://www.webershandwick.com/news/millennials-at-work-perspectives-on-diversity-inclusion/

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