These days, “diversity” and “inclusion” (or D and I, the catchphrase du jour) are hot topics in firms of all sizes. Despite the current popularity of these issues, too often there is much talk and little action, and these important discussion points are relegated to trivial buzzwords. Such dismissal is dangerous for law firms in particular, an industry in many ways under siege. Currently, clients of all varieties are questioning the value of traditional legal services and closely scrutinizing the bills for those services. Competition is fierce. If a client grows even mildly dissatisfied with its attorney, another is clamoring to service that client better, faster and cheaper. In order for a firm to maintain its edge, it is critical that it understand those values that are important to its clients beyond the requisite stellar, timely legal work, and to align itself as much as possible with those client values. Today, it is extremely likely that gender diversity is prominent among those values.

Businesses that form the core client base of many law firms are making real strides when it comes to gender equality, in particular in their legal departments. In 2016, women comprised 31.9 percent of all chief legal officers at Fortune 1000 companies, according to a survey by DiscoverOrg in partnership with Fortune Magazine. More significantly, a study by Russell Reynolds Associates found that in 2017 women filled a full 38 percent of all new general counsel positions in Fortune 500 companies.

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