The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) is requiring that its roughly 350 members each make public pledges that include “specific, measurable actions” on diversity to remain a member of the organization—an effort to hold the law firms and legal departments that make up the organization publicly accountable going forward.
“While there is still plenty of work to be done, these public commitments represent a critical step in dismantling the systemic barriers that have long impeded the progression of underrepresented lawyers,” said Robert Grey, president of LCLD. “We thank those who are holding themselves and their organizations accountable to shaping a better, more diverse legal profession.”
So far, 128 members have made public pledges, a marked increase from the 15 pledges made at the outset of the LCLD’s “Leaders at the Front” initiative, launched in 2020.
Members who have made public pledges include in-house leaders such as Tom Reid, chief legal officer and secretary at Comcast Corp., as well as Big Law leaders such as Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe chairman and CEO Mitch Zuklie and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom executive partner Eric Friedman.
“LCLD has been in existence for 10 years. It was time, with the unique membership we have, to come together and make personal commitments as leaders. We looked at each other as board members and said, ‘If this group of the most powerful general counsel and managing partners in the country can’t make progress, who can?’” Ellen Dwyer, chair of the LCLD board and chair of the executive committee of Crowell & Moring, told Law.com when the program launched last year.
The pledges vary from member to member, although the new LCLD mandate requires that the actions be specific and measurable, and include both personal commitments from the firm leaders as well as metric-based organizational goals. Members have until June 2022 to make their pledges.
Dwyer and Crowell & Moring, for example, pledged to ensure that a diverse lawyer is one of a team of three lawyers identified to succeed a senior partner in a relationship partner role for no fewer than six clients in the next 18 months, among other goals.
Goodwin Procter chairman Robert Insolia has pledged that the total composition of all firm leadership committees will be at least 40% diverse, and he will personally sponsor the development and advancement of three nonequity partners of color over the next two years, among other promises.
Diversity advocates have long pushed for increased transparency into diversity efforts in the legal industry, arguing that it is only through public accountability that progress is made. This idea is central to legal diversity organization Diversity Lab’s Mansfield program, which has shown promising empirical results among first movers.