Thursday, May 07, 2009

Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Launched by Fortune 500

Improved diversity in the workplace is a primary goal of the LCLD, announced yesterday by senior legal officials from Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Coca Cola, O'Melveny & Myers, DLA Piper, and other firms.

“The LCLD is doing what no other initiative has done – uniting the legal industry’s senior leaders in one organization to address and resolve the enormous diversity challenges in our profession,” said Rick Palmore, General Counsel of General Mills and Chair of the LCLD Board.

One goal is to promote the ACC's Call to Action in regard to law firm diversity.

As part of this initiative, several very positive actions are being pursued that can apply to other types of corporate-legal collaborative efforts. These include:

1. Samples of "best practices" are being collected from throughout the corporate and legal market for use in building a knowledge base.

2. Success metrics are being defined through goal establishment and achievement measures.

3. Identification of outreach efforts proven to work in facilitating the success of professionals from diverse backgrounds.

From a legal marketing perspective, it is not clear if the group has launched a website to extend the reach of the press release. A website can serve to invite interested parties to sign up for an email list, seek volunteers for committee activities, attract candidates for the Executive Director position, promote sponsors, and more. They may be missing an important opportunity in this regard.

Read the full press release here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been a minority attorney for 15 years and have seen similar initiatives come and go. In general, it doesn't seem like such programs work as neither the number of minority partners at large lawfirms nor the number of minority owned lawfirms have increased in any significant way. What has seen dramatic increase is the size of large lawfirms in general and the profits per partner being reported by majority lawyers at such firms. The case for "economic" benefits of diversity just simply isn't there. Law is basically a relationship business and big law comes down to the attorney's/law firm's ability to establish strong ties to those in power, ie. general counsel at large corporations, owners of large/successful private businesses, government leaders, etc.. Minorities simply don't have the backgrounds, connections and influence to establish such relations or command large buckets of law business. On the other hand, programs designed to increase diversity in the profession keep stressing the need for "qualified" minorities as if there is some relationship between qualifications and success in the profession. I have come across all kinds of lawyers that have achieved all level of success regardless of their qualifications. In my humble opinion, there is no direct correlation. Unfortunately, the number 1 indicator of your potential for success as a lawyer (or at least for becoming a partner at a major US firm) remains the color of your skin. No objective observer of the state of the profession could argue otherwise. There are many who agree that past racial discrimination was a significant barrier to entry to the profession. Many of these same people, however, also urge that racial discrimination is no longer a factor and that the lack of diversity is much more complex. To those I would ask a simple question: if racial discrimination is no longer the major obstacle to succeeding as a lawyer, when did it cease to be so? What event, what place, what time or what can you point to as the pivotal occurrence that signifies the end of racial preference in the legal industry?