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Diversity experts and observers of the legal profession point to several strategies that have a track record for improving retention and increasing the ranks of black partners and other partners of color. Those strategies include: � Evaluating assignment and promotion practices: Firm management consultant Marci Krufka writes that firms should take a close look at their assignment and promotion criteria to determine whether they include subtle inequities or barriers for attorneys of color. Krufka urges firms to ask themselves: “Are your women and minority attorneys fairly evenly distributed among [practice] groups? Have they had the opportunity to work on challenging, noteworthy, or high-profile matters? Do all of your attorneys have the opportunity for personal contact with the clients?” Attending to those issues, she says, can increase the chances that associates of color get the skills and contacts they’ll need to become partners. � Focusing on retention: Unlike the 1992 New York City bar association challenge, which focused only on hiring, a 1990 initiative by almost 100 firms and in-house departments in the San Francisco area encouraged retention. Participants agreed to work toward lawyers of color constituting 15 percent of their associate ranks and 5 percent of their partners. By 1993, the city’s nine largest firms had met that goal. (At the 10-year mark, they had come very close to reaching their goal of 25 percent minority associates, but had only reached 6 percent for partners, far short of their goal of 10 percent.) � Creating incentives: Experts say that a firm’s incentives promote long-term diversity. A 2000 report by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession recommends that firms tie diversity efforts to senior lawyers’ compensation. The report also suggests that “firms and other legal employers … could award bonus points for compensation purposes to attorneys who actively recruit and mentor lawyers of color.” � Specific attention to diversity in personnel decisions: “In choosing among highly qualified people, some weight should be given to promoting diversity,” says Cleary partner and city bar president Evan Davis. “It’s good for the profession and good for the practice,” he said. Asked whether diversity considerations should play a role in partnership, as well as hiring decisions, Davis’ answer was an emphatic yes. “Absolutely for partnership positions as well. As among well-qualified candidates. This is not a divisive factor.” � Success breeds success: According to recruiter Cathy Abelson, actions speak louder than words, and nothing speaks louder than the presence in a firm of black partners who have come up through the ranks. “You have to see somebody get their just deserts and proceed without any question marks,” she says.

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