For the legal industry, the last two years have not only impacted communications and fiscal objectives, but also laid bare long-standing racial injustices which have prompted corporations to step up the pressure on outside counsel to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In response to heightened client expectations for formalized DEI policies and metrics, many firms say they have programs in place; however, most are early in the journey.

Shining a Spotlight on DEI

From the client’s point of view, diverse teams bring a rich set of perspectives that result in better-reasoned strategies and recommendations. Yet despite converging pressures from diminished personal tolerance, increased corporate responsibility, and more complex regulatory requirements, law firms overall are struggling to make meaningful progress on DEI. According to a recent Diversity Snapshot from Law360 Pulse, at every level of a typical law firm, the representation of minority attorneys increased by less than one percentage point in 2020 and made only incremental progress over the last seven years.