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Venable has inked a strategic alliance with Brown & Sheehan, a 13-attorney Baltimore-based firm that touts itself as the largest minority business enterprise law firm in Maryland. For Venable, the alliance is a move to boost diversity at a time when corporate clients are demanding more than just white guys in dark suits. “Wal-Mart and several other Fortune 50 firms are demanding diversity from their vendors,” says Vicki Margolis, the Venable partner who is co-managing the alliance. “But there’s no one corporate client that’s pushed us this way. It’s all of our clients that have pushed us this way.” Margolis adds that internally Venable has “terrific numbers in recruiting and retaining minority lawyers.” Maybe so, but when compared with its big-firm peers, Venable’s minority representation has been pretty mediocre: It ranked 127th in diversity out of 244 large firms that reported data for the 2005 Diversity Scorecard, a survey published by Minority Law Journal, a sister publication of Legal Times. Just 4.6 percent of the firm’s partners are minorities. Venable’s two main offices are located in Washington and Baltimore, two cities with substantial black populations. But Brown & Sheehan co-founder Michael Brown says that Venable is moving in the right direction. “They were very serious about their commitment to diversity,” he says. “We do have a number of Fortune 500 [clients], but we do not typically get very significant matters. This gives us an opportunity to break into that environment.”
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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