In 2010, the American Bar Association (ABA) published a survey analyzing how integration programs in the legal profession were affected by the 2008 recession. The research, Diversity in the Legal Profession: The Next Measures, provided suggestions about how integration may be promoted in various sectors of the business, including law firms and corporate law departments. Planning, history, appraisal and transparency, recruiting, promotion and development, and outreach were discussed in the recommendations.
To corporate law divisions and law companies looking to render diversity and inclusion a focus during the latest pandemic, such guidelines remain true today. More precisely, the profession’s leaders will pursue their current plans or develop new plans in the light of the pandemic, strive to promote a climate of diversity and inclusion, determine how their plans are working as expected, keep other members responsible, and carry out innovative outreach activities, particularly in this period of remote work. Another field which was discussed by the ABA report and which is still important today is maintenance.
Below we discuss four measures that corporate law divisions and law firms will now quickly adopt to strengthen retention initiatives and prevent undoing the progress of the past decade in promoting diversity within the discipline.
1. Make Diversity a priority
Diversity should be a concern for company legal departments and law firm executives, given the pandemic. Diversity market argument is straightforward, and sponsored. Different organizations and departments have more guidance and more innovative approaches, and a number of teams outperform fewer competitive teams financially. Further variety frequently contributes to higher consumer loyalty. Furthermore, law firms and companies achieve considerable market share, brand awareness, and prestige by leading with diverse and cohesive teams both internally and externally.
Despite the obvious advantages of building and sustaining a diverse workplace, leaders will emphasize diversity in these challenging times where innovative approaches, outstanding customer satisfaction and competitiveness become core priorities despite the financial pressure created by COVID-19 and its widespread effect. It will be achieved by implementing clear and easy organizational interventions that include paths that advancement for different skills (e.g. daily check-in with numerous professionals about their workload and encouraging non-diversity professionals to recognize diverse professions as they require assistance) and regularly emphasizing the value of equality and diversity in the company.
2. Bear in mind variety when determining who is leaving and who is moving
When members in corporate law departments and law firms explore how to reduce expenses by furloughs, unemployment, and salary cuts, they will recognize the possible unfair effect that such actions might have on different lawyers. Leaders should respond that the job actions made during the 2008 crisis were focused on the attorney’s billable hours and total profitability.
Nevertheless, these judgments do not take into consideration possible situational considerations influencing the billable hours and profitability of the different counsel, including confirmation bias, which is the propensity to view empirical facts as proof of one’s current convictions or hypotheses.
When asked about the effect of COVID-19 on diversity, Caren Ulrich Stacy, CEO of Diversity Lab, said, “If law firm members select who remain and who leave, they sometimes instinctively want to retain the individual that looks like them. Since most of the members in the upper echelons of companies and businesses are white males, that does not bode well for different lawyers.
3. Combat Skepticism Prejudice and Longevity
Institute steps to combat confirmation bias and improve engagement and inclusiveness. In order to counter confirmation bias, “[corporations and] law firms ought to set up their structures and procedures such that the individuals concerned will make smarter, fairer choices for the good of all. “2 This will require careful allocation of assignments during this time of expanded teleworking to insure that different lawyers have jobs and that tasks are allocated equitably.
Members who conduct these activities would not only be able to counter approval prejudice, but may also strengthen retention initiatives and show interest of different attorneys.
4. Reach the Need for Action
Throughout the last decade, hundreds of global legal agency general counsel and chief legal officers signed open letters and released demands for action to concentrate, promote, and improve diversity in the field among law firms and business leaders.
In reaction to one of these calls for action, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), which is making excellent strides in engaging in the performance of both in-house and out-of-home lawyers, was formed. Different innovative initiatives will help to tackle the problems around diversity and equality in the legal profession. You have the ability to reward businesses that control their assets, retain their diverse employees, and sanction any who don’t. Using the leverage to promote tolerance and integrate it into legislation. Don’t let the businesses backslide.