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170 Reasons Outside Counsel Should Emphasize Diversity

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 29, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Though rare, rainbows can actually turn into complete circles.

You can't usually see them because the bottom half of the arc is blocked by the horizon. But if you are in the air or high enough, you may get lucky and catch one.

Law firm diversity is like a rainbow, and it's a beautiful thing. Some law firms are becoming diverse, but more companies want them to be complete.

Complete Diversity

In an open letter, general counsel and chief legal officers at more than 170 companies said they expect law firms to "reflect the diversity" of the legal community, companies, and customers they serve.

"We, as a group, will direct our substantial outside counsel to spend to those law firms that manifest results with respect to diversity and inclusion, in addition to providing the highest degree of quality representation," they said.

The American Lawyer posted the letter, and the New York Times followed up. The Times reported on the challenges for women and people of color to become partners in big law firms.

At Paul Weiss, for example, some lawyers complained that white men receive more opportunities for business than minorities. Others said minority associates can feel isolated and marginalized.

"Just Corporate America"

Amran Hussein, the only African-American female partner at the firm, said it can "weigh on you."

"But is it something that's specific to Paul Weiss?" she posed. "No, I think that's just corporate America."

Paul Weiss, for it's part, ranks high among law firms for diversity. But the partners recognize the need for improvement.

Meanwhile, the letter from general counsel is pushing in that direction. The group said it's not enough to recruit diverse lawyers; change has to come from within.

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