Big Law, Generation Z, and Legal Technology — A Conversation With Joshua Lenon of Clio

Joshua Lenon Interview — Part 3

A lot of law firms have established diversity programs and initiatives. Is that going anywhere, or is it just tokenism? And what suggestions would you have for changes that these law firms need to make?

It honestly depends on the law firm. There’s a wide variety of experiments going on in law firms, and there are partners in law firms that strongly support diversity and opportunity in the legal profession and those law firms are better positioned to seize the best legal talent out there.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all path to partner anymore. And we know this in a whole variety of different situations, most of which are about equity. For example, the dearth of female and people of color partners in larger law firms, even though there is an incredibly large percentage of those people entering the legal profession. Over half the law students right now are women and have been for a long time, yet their rise to partnership has been stymied because of these past approaches. We need to bring in flexibility.

It boggles the mind that a lot of law firms don’t realize that when you put on the blinders of what a lawyer “looks like,” you lose access to all these amazing people who might need maternity leave or paternity leave at some point. People need a reasonable accommodation so that they can balance their family life.

When you think about the career of a lawyer and how much they contribute to a law firm and its clients, a year’s family leave is nothing. It’s really shortsighted for firms not to bring these talents on.

However, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this being a struggle, but I do think we’re going to see law firms that “get it” and excel, and I’m very much in favor of that.

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