We all know that getting serious about Diversity & Inclusion makes a lot of sense for a law firm.
What we may not know is that clients are starting to proactively screen law firms for their diversity track record before retaining them.
Increasing numbers of legal departments are setting the minimum diversity bar they expect from outside law firms before hiring you.
It is no longer just about the strength of the Partner to client relationship, legal capability, standing in legal directories and or past performance.
In short, if you want to win business from these clients, you need to be a winner in Diversity.
Intel is planning to no longer work with law firms whose equity partnership is not at least 21% women and 10% minorities.
Microsoft Corp is taking another approach. It will track the percentage of hours that diverse partners work on its actual matters and hand out bonuses to its firms that perform the best.
This development throws up some very interesting questions for both clients and law firms.
What metrics should we measure? How quickly and how far should law firms be pushed on the diversity issue? How do we compare one law firm to another? Do you judge law firms by a higher, lower or the same diversity threshold as you do your own company?
Industry leaders are making efforts to address these questions.
One such effort, conceived and led by Winston & Strawn’s Chief Information Officer, David Cunningham, is hoping to deliver a commercially available platform that provides a solution
Mr. Cunningham with a range of participants that includes law firms, corporations and legal services businesses are working on rolling out Legal Metrics.
Legal Metrics is aiming to be the GO-TO platform for clients to make assessments on the Diversity performance of different law firms in order to make a decision as to whether to work with them or not.
Presumably, the aim is to build a real time platform that allows clients to slice and dice those diversity statistics important to them and make comparative assessments and ultimately hiring choices between law firms.
Such a platform would also be a wake up call for law firms who are not taking diversity issues seriously.
Perhaps, a better solution would be for one of the major legal directories like Chambers & Partners to add diversity metrics to their existing rankings.
A one stop shop rather than another platform.
Either way, diversity issues matter to clients and sometime soon someone somewhere is going to come up with a highly transparent platform for viewing law firm diversity statistics and performance.