The Diversity and Inclusion Problem:
In short, there’s a lack of it. A 2018 NALP survey found that only 19% of law firm equity partners are women, only 6% are racial/ethnic minorities, and less than 3% are LGBTQ+. This occurs even after Affirmative Action was introduced through the Employment Equality Act in 1998. (And the Billion Dollar Roundtable was created in 2001 to recognize and celebrate corporations that achieved spending of at least $1B in minority and women-owned suppliers.) What’s wrong? Why is Diversity & Inclusion adoption so slow? The answer is: there is a lack of measurement. In order to make progress, we need to accurately measure and compare how we did, how we’re doing and how we’re going to do.
The Big Enchilada: Metrics
Our in-house experts have gathered questions (from our own surveys) about D&I that you can ask and measure effectively within your own organization.
Quantitative D&I Metrics
- What % of lawyers working on the client’s matters are diverse? (E.g., we require that 30% of all timekeepers on our matters are to be diverse – women, minority and LGBTQ+)
- What % of hours (and/or spend) are to be completed by historically underrepresented populations?
- What percentage of the origination credits are going to those diverse lawyers? (E.g., a diverse partner received 100% of the origination credits.)
- Are the client’s panel firms doing a good job promoting diverse lawyers?
- What % of firm partners are women?
- What % of firm partners are part of a minority?
- How much is the client spending with diverse-owned law firms? (e.g. 10% of spend goes to NAMWOLF certified diverse law firms).
Qualitative D&I Metrics
- Which attorneys working on a client’s matters are diverse and what role will they play?
- Is your firm or company a certified business entity in one or more of the following categories:
- Small business
- Veteran or disabled veteran-owned business
- Women-owned business
- Minority-owned business enterprise
- Disabled owned business
- LGBT owned business
- WBENC, NMSDC, USBLN, NGLCC
If yes, please provide a copy of your certification.
Okay, but how do you capture these metrics?
Easy, with the right tools.
- RFPs: you can survey firms to make sure they’re giving you diverse input on your matters.
- eBilling Systems: you can capture D&I metrics on an individual level (i.e., every lawyer that bills to you can be categorized based on their gender and ethnicity – given that the eBilling system has these capabilities).
- Quarterly Business Reviews: you can ask your firms how they’re doing on their D&I metrics on a consistent basis to ensure that they are hiring and promoting more diverse lawyers and championing D&I in their culture (see ABA diversity survey questions and FYI, PERSUIT allows you to run RFPs and QBRs for D&I on our platform.)
What else can you do for Diversity & Inclusion?
In addition to measuring progress in your own organization, you can support D&I in two ways:
- Encouraging supplier diversity through NAMWOLF: The National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms is the most prominent group advancing the idea that diverse and woman-owned law firms ought to have a fair shot at winning the work of marquee clients. A nonprofit trade association comprised of minority and women-owned law firms throughout the United States, NAMWOLF works to promote the retention of these firms by corporations with the view that “the most effective way for corporations to increase diversity in the legal profession is to increase the retention of minority and women-owned law firms.”
In-House lawyers should familiarize themselves with the list of NAMWOLF member firms and consider inviting them to participate in fair and objective bidding processes when new matters arise.
- Encourage D&I in law firms with the Mansfield Rule: Many corporations have begun to require large majority law firms (which claim 95%+ of corporate legal spend) to change their ways. In 2017, Diversity Lab set forth the “Mansfield Rule” (named after Arabella Mansfield who became the first woman admitted into the ABA in 1869). Under this annually-renewed rule, law firms and corporations can sign-on and become “Mansfield Certified.” This requires organizations to answer detailed questions about their hiring practices and outside counsel spend data to meet criteria for certification. In-house law departments can start setting targets for a percentage of the work they allocate to majority law firms being undertaken by diverse teams. It begins with setting goals (e.g., 30% of spend on lawyers must be with diverse individuals/attorneys at our firms).
While diversity and inclusion has been espoused for decades, it is now important to seize the moment and create change. We should all commit to doing more now. While it can be easy to get fatigued by statistics and metrics that seem to inch up far too slowly each year, it’s important to keep pushing forward. You can now do this yourself in the aforementioned ways.