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Preston DuFauchard Jr. controls Bank of America Corp.’s litigation budget on the West Coast — a slice of corporate cash that plenty of lawyers would love to share. Just like other in-house lawyers, he says he looks for smarts, talent and experience. Only thing is, he’s not another white guy hiring another white guy. DuFauchard is African-American and is very conscious about giving minority attorneys a shot at the bank’s work. “I have made sure to the extent that I can control it that matters go to minority lawyers,” DuFauchard said. “Are we creating another old boys’ network? It represents a dilemma — but in some respects, that’s the way it is.” Race has long been a touchy subject for law firms. And it’s been particularly so in the diversity-conscious Bay Area. Big firms say they want diversity, and for 14 years have signed pledges with the Bar Association of San Francisco to hit goals for minority recruitment and retention. But the results have been mixedat best. Just 7 percent of the partners at the Bay Area’s 10 largest firms are minorities, according to February 2002 statistics compiled by the National Association for Law Placement. That means the firms have finally reached the targets BASF set — for 1995. Given the lackluster returns, minority lawyers in-house and at large firms say they now realize they need clients to push firms to open their partnership ranks to more minorities. Only clients can put financial pressure on firms to provide more training and help lawyers of color build their books of business. “It is unfair to expect minorities to be able to build a book in a short period of time,” said Daniel Johnson Jr., a Fenwick & West partner. “It is also unrealistic to expect them to be able to truly compete without large institutional clients.” And when it comes to longevity as a partner, what matters most is the size of a lawyer’s book of business. “What will change the profession is having stars who are not white boys,” said Morrison & Foerster Chairman Keith Wetmore. “It’s just as important [for clients] to say ‘I’m going to take some risk’ to create a star who is not a white man.” FOCUS ON ASSOCIATES The partner ranks have largely been ignored as firms have tried to increase diversity. Instead, the focus has been on associates. Between 1990 and 2002, the number of minority associates at the Bay Area’s largest firms jumped from 13 percent to 24 percent, according to surveys by BASF and NALP. By contrast, the partner ranks have increased from 3 percent to 7 percent in the last 12 years. Just 136 of the 2,037 partners at the Bay Area’s 10 largest firms are non-white, according to NALP. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has the highest percentage of minority partners at 12 percent; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is lowest at 2.9 percent. Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. said the firm has been trying to increase the diversity of its ranks by focusing on associates. It has created a diversity committee to monitor recruiting efforts and the career development of associates. Roughly 26 percent of the firm’s associates are non-white. “We have a diversity committee to make sure that we’re self-aware, that we don’t do things as individuals that end up inadvertently limiting opportunities,” Baxter said. Simply adding associates may not be enough to change the complexion of the partner ranks, minority lawyers say. “It’s a development issue,” said Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner Fred Alvarez. “We’re graduating plenty of minority students from law school. What we’re not doing is developing them.” Alvarez was BASF president when firms renewed their commitment to the hiring goals in 2000. He said he was encouraged the bar won support for renewing goals and timetables first created in 1989. In the wake of Proposition 209 — the voter-approved 1996 ballot initiative that prohibits the state from using race as a factor for school admissions — firm managers could have said that affirmative action was pass�, Alvarez said. Alvarez said that if firms are committed, they will have to start adopting measures internally to make sure that minority associates make partner. For one thing, Alvarez said, firms need to assign minority associates partners who are sensitive to issues of diversity to act as mentors. “It requires a special effort to reach out to a minority,” Alvarez said. “I don’t consider that preferential treatment; I consider that paying attention.” For Peter Bewley, general counsel of The Clorox Co. in Oakland, creating opportunities for in-house lawyers to meet and hire minority partners is a top priority. Bewley is president of the California Minority Counsel Program, a statewide network of lawyers that tries to foster the career development of minority lawyers. “White male lawyers are more likely to retain white male lawyers,” Bewley said. “It’s not a firm problem, it’s a problem of the profession [and] it has to be handled on the profession level.” As a representative of the Minority Counsel Program, Bewley sets up one-on-one meetings between in-house counsel and minority lawyers inside firms. “We let the firm know we’re coming to see the minority lawyer and the lawyer should be getting the credit [for the business] however the firm credits its lawyers,” Bewley said. The program also stages an annual career conference for lawyers and networking events that aim to introduce minority lawyers to corporate counsel who make the hiring decisions. But firms have to cooperate and support outside efforts to develop minority partners, Bewley said. “They need to get started, and they need to continue to focus attention on the issue,” he said. Fenwick’s Johnson — an African-American — said white partners often don’t realize that clients are reluctant to hire minority partners. “If you don’t have either some type of corporate connection or some place where you’re going to get regular deal flow, you’re forced to fend for yourself,” Johnson said. Johnson acknowledges that all partners are under pressure to network and build up a book of business. But white lawyers have an easier time encouraging white clients to hire them, he contends. “There’s been a long history of majority law firms not understanding that there are significant disadvantages to being a minority and that nothing is done to help the minority partner develop a book of business,” Johnson said. SEEN AS A THREAT Sometimes the competitive nature of firm life actually sabotages efforts to help minorities get a leg up. Janis Harwell, a former Thelen Reid & Priest partner, said she attended networking functions for minorities, but a white male partner shadowed her to make sure his client relationships weren’t threatened. Harwell, who is now general counsel of Chicago’s Renessen LLC, said white senior partners seemed to view her as a threat instead of protege material. “It was not unusual to find marketing moments dominated by the same old guys,” Harwell said. “They’re not willing to see any particular matter come in under someone else’s name.” Bank of America’s DuFauchard said that when he was a partner at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in the early 1990s, he saw white colleagues excel in ways he could not. DuFauchard said his white peers seemed to interact with the firm’s white senior management with greater ease. He said as a result, his peers were included in more social functions and were introduced to more of the firm’s legacy clients. “You feel like you’re an outsider, maybe a second-class citizen, not as important,” DuFauchard said. “The people who control how much money people make are white.” Now that he’s in a position to influence law firm managers, DuFauchard said he asks that minorities be included on his team, and he takes his work to firms where he knows minority partners. In 2001, DuFauchard hired Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory because the firm had experience with his type of litigation matter and because he personally knew Lindbergh Porter Jr., a minority partner there. DuFauchard said he made sure the firm’s managers knew that his relationship with Porter was key to the firm getting the work. “He’s a minority partner at a large firm, and I know what that’s like,” DuFauchard said. “I felt like I should include him. That’s how I would have wanted to be included.” Related chart: Minority Partners

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