While law firms and industry observers applauded Coca-Cola Co.’s new guidelines aimed at expanding outside counsel diversity, some were skeptical that the initiative from Coke’s new general counsel, Bradley Gayton, would succeed any better at advancing lawyers of color to equity partner than the many others already issued by Fortune 500 companies.

Gayton, who became Coke’s top lawyer Sept. 1 after nearly 30 years at Ford Motor Co., rolled out a comprehensive new directive for its law firms last week, saying that at least 30% of time billed for new matters should be from attorneys who are diverse by gender, race, LGBTQ or disability status. Notably, Gayton specified that half of this time, or 15%, should be billed by Black attorneys.

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