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Jessica Mazzeo, Griesing Law Jessica Mazzeo, Griesing Law

It has been 20 years since “Diversity in the Workplace: A Statement of Principle” was signed by over 500 general counsels at Fortune 1000 companies. The Statement of Principle, an effort led by Charles Morgan, then-BellSouth general counsel, said: “In making our respective decisions concerning selection of outside counsel, we will give significant weight to a firm’s commitment and progress in this area.” This was followed up with the 2004 Call to Action that was developed by Roderick Palmore during his tenure as general counsel of Sara Lee. The Call to Action stated, in part, that general counsel “will make decisions regarding which law firms represent our companies based in significant part on the diversity performance of the firms.” Both of these were mighty efforts for an industry that has been slow with change and progress in areas where other industries routinely excel. Last year, I wrote about why just talking about diversity and inclusion was not enough to make an impact at law firms. My article focused on statements made about diversity and inclusion that end up being just that—words with no action. However, now it seems that words are turning into action as I know of several firms that have recently had clients say “show us your diversity or we find new counsel.”

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