Compiled for the LCLD Board of Directors every Wednesday, this digest is designed to brief you on the latest headlines about LCLD Members and organizations, as well as thought-provoking articles on diversity in the legal profession, talent development, mentoring, and leadership. Past issues of the Digest are also archived on the LCLD web site.

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1. Zero Hours Billed? No Problem for These First-Year Associates

The American Lawyer, 8/18/16

A program at LCLD Member firm DLA Piper allows two first-year associates to focus entirely on pro bono work for a full year, while still getting paid like other first-years. Firm leaders say the program gives associates experience they wouldn’t get in a billable practice, and despite concerns that they will lag behind their peers, associates in the program feel they have gained as much, if not more, experience doing pro bono work. Other firms with similar programs include LCLD Member organizations Hogan Lovells US LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

2. At GSK, In-House Lawyers Get Paid to Volunteer

Corporate Counsel, 8/16/16

The PULSE Volunteer Partnership at LCLD Member corporation GlaxoSmithKline allows permanent employees to take three-to-six months to volunteer full-time, while still receiving their salaries. In 2016, two of the 75 employees chosen for the program came from GSK’s legal department; one spent his three-month leave at the Philadelphia Legal Clinic for the Disabled. Since 2009, the company has sent 635 employees to work with 112 nonprofits. 

3. The Talk About Racial Bias Companies Should Be Having

Harvard Business Review, 8/23/16

Black families have long understood the need to teach their children how to “survive and advance in a world with rampant racial bias,” writes technology executive Michael Gee. They see it as crucial to their children’s success and even survival; American corporations should feel the same way. “We know enough about the value of diversity to know that if you’re not hiring and promoting the best people from all segments of society, you’re doing your company a disservice… We need more private-sector leaders to commit to a broader conversation. Black families cannot be the only ones having “’the other talk.’” 

4. Op-Ed: Becoming Disabled

The New York Times, 8/21/16

One-in-five Americans has a disability, and yet pride movements for people with disabilities have gained little visibility. “This impulse to rescue people with disabilities from a discredited identity, while usually well meaning, is decidedly at odds with the various pride movements we’ve come to know in recent decades,” writes Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Director of the Disability Studies Initiative. She describes her experience “coming out” as disabled, and how it changed the way she sees herself, other people with disabilities, and the world around her: "Becoming disabled demands learning how to live effectively as a person with disabilities, not just living as a disabled person trying to become nondisabled."

5. Why Do So Many Women Who Study Engineering Leave the Field?

Harvard Business Review, 8/23/16

A longitudinal study of engineering students found that while efforts to get more women to pursue engineering degrees have been somewhat successful, women continue to leave the field after experiencing the biased culture firsthand. Female students reported instances of gender bias in the classroom, during team assignments, and at external internships, and often reported lack of confidence in their work. The authors recommend that engineering programs find ways “to address gendered tasking and expectations among teams, in class and at internship work sites.” Women make up 20 percent of engineering graduates, but only 13 percent of the engineering workforce, and an estimated 40 percent of women leave the field before earning their degrees, or earn the degree but never pursue a career in the field.