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A growing number of companies say that when they choose outside counsel, a law firm’s ethnic diversity matters. But how much? A new survey shows that diversity still ranks low on the list of reasons to hire a law firm. The study, conducted by Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, is based on responses from 145 corporations in the Fortune 1000. Why do you hire a firm? Respondents were asked to rate, on a 0-to-10 scale, the importance of various factors in selecting an outside firm for routine legal matters. The mean rating for each factor: Firm’s attorneys communicate effectively – 9.1 Firm’s attorneys work as a team – 8.6 Firm’s attorneys are enjoyable to work with – 7.0 Firm’s hourly rates – 6.6 Firm’s racial diversity – 3.3 Firm’s pro bono activities – 2.2 How diverse is your department? Respondents in the top half of the Fortune 1000 placed more importance on racial diversity in their hiring decisions than companies in the bottom half. That may be because Fortune 500 law departments have a higher degree of overall diversity, the study suggested: Female in-house attorneys (mean percentage) Fortune 500 – 41.8% Fortune 501-1000 – 24.0% African American in-house attorneys (mean percentage) Fortune 500 – 5.0% Fortune 501-1000 – 1.9% Openly gay or lesbian in-house attorneys (mean percentage) Fortune 500 – 1.9% Fortune 501-1000 – 0.3% Source: Top of Mind: A Survey of Senior In-House Counsel, by Mark Greene of The Brand Research Company for Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

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