Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Jessica L. Mazzeo of Griesing Law Jessica L. Mazzeo of Griesing Law

Five years ago this month this headline was blasted from The Washington Post: “Law is the least diverse profession in the nation. And lawyers aren’t doing enough to change that.” That article also went on to say that “the legal profession supplies presidents, governors, lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, general counsels and heads of corporations. Its membership needs to be as inclusive as the populations it serves.” But five years later, research still shows us what many of us already know—despite an increase in women and diverse law students, law firm statistics still do not proportionately reflect that. New figures from the National Association for Law Placement show that in 2019, just one in five equity partners were women (or 20.3%) and only 7.6% were racial/ethnic minorities. Because of this, recent efforts such as the Move the Needle Fund were started. For those of you not familiar, Move the Needle is the first collaborative effort to test innovative initiatives to create a more diverse and inclusive legal profession. What makes this new initiative promising is that the five AmLaw100 founding law firms have all agreed to publicly share their firms’ successes—and failures. This is important as we often see many firms talking the talk but not really walking the walk. But what happens to all these initiatives and efforts now that we are in the midst of a global pandemic? With so many other pressing issues facing our law firms ranging from furloughed or laid off staff and salary reductions to financial decline resulting from clients being unable to afford legal expenditures, now is the time more than ever to stay full speed ahead and remain focused on our firms’ inclusive, diversity and equity issues.

Recognizing that unfortunately many firms still only respond to bottom line impact, I decided to go to the source to hear from corporate clients on what they continue to expect from outside counsel during this pandemic and beyond. Steve McManus, State Farm Insurance Co.’s senior vice president and general counsel, tells me “During times of crisis, we focus on responding to the immediate needs of our employees and customers, but we cannot lose sight of all of our long term objectives, including the State Farm law department leadership responsibility to influence law firm diversity through regular dialogue with existing retained counsel, and to demonstrate our commitment with a broad approach to the selection of counsel on new matters.  Included within our approach is connecting with and exploring ways to engage diverse owned law firms, such as through our interactions with NAMWOLF firms and our Rising Star Academy, designed to help to prepare diverse up-and-coming law firm leaders for increased responsibilities.” I heard the same messaging from Jason L. Brown, vice president, general counsel, GE Appliances, who told me: “We are in unchartered waters and these are the times that, as business leaders, you need a myriad of perspectives to help you tackle the emerging issues the company will face. Those companies that continue to drive impactful inclusion and diversity efforts throughout their organizations will perform better coming out of this crisis.  The legal department should play a vital role in leading by example in developing diverse talent, retaining diverse outside counsel and firms and fostering an inclusive environment. When times are challenging, as they are now, companies must maintain focus on the core values and initiatives that will help spark a quick recovery and sustainable growth for the business. Make no mistake about it, inclusion, diversity and equity should be a part of those core values and initiatives.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Law Firms Mentioned

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

Diversity Matters to Clients

How does your firm compare on diversity? Where are your competitors' strengths and weaknesses with Diversity? Use Legal Compass to compare firms on key metrics of race and gender diversity, and find out which firms are Mansfield Certified.

Get More Information

GlobeSt. Women of Influence Awards 2021Event

GlobeSt. Women of Influence Conference celebrates the women who drive the commercial real estate industry forward.

Get More Information

GlobeSt. Women of Influence 2021Event

GlobeSt. Women of Influence Conference celebrates the women who drive the commercial real estate industry forward.

Get More Information

General Counsel Conference Midwest: SuperConference 2021Event

GCC Midwest addresses today's legal issues facing companies by providing general counsel with insight and best practices.

Get More Information

General Counsel Summit (GCS) 2021Event

General Counsel Summit is the premier event for in-house counsel, hosting esteemed legal minds from all sectors of the economy.

Get More Information

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.