Editor's note: The text below is an excerpt of "Fixing What's Broken," which appears in the March 2015 issue of ACC Docket Magazine. Authored by Mark Roellig, James DeGraffenreidt, and Cathy Minehan, the article, illustrated with the art above, is available in pdf form at the bottom of the page.

"Something is clearly broken in big law."

Despite the business imperative for diversity, law firms that corporations retain for significant issues just aren’t meeting the need to increase the number of diverse attorneys. The mismatch between law firm demographics and those found in the leadership of client corporations, law schools, universities and the general population prompts concerns that businesses will have to become more active in helping these firms understand that diversity is indispensable to the success of companies . . .

Corporate achievement depends heavily on talent and teams. A high-performing company must look at the broadest possible talent pool for its attorneys, and this must include women and minorities.

In addition, diversity plays a critical role in US law, where the decision makers (e.g., judges, juries and regulators) reflect the general population, not the partnership makeup at large firms. It is fair to say that well over one out of every three matters that go to trial will be presided over by a woman or minority . . .

Given the strategic importance of diversity to sustainable corporate success, corporate directors may want to know how to help their companies make meaningful progress with respect to their external legal resources. We offer our perspective and a few practical suggestions. 

[To read more, visit the ACC Docket website here or download the pdf, below]. 

About the authors:

Mark Roellig is the executive VP and General Counsel of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, where he is responsible for all legal, corporate secretarial, regulatory and governmental affairs. Before joining MassMutual in 2005, he served as GC and secretary to the following three public companies prior to their sale/mergers: Fisher Scientific International Inc., Storage Technology Corporation (StorageTek) and US WEST Inc.

James H. DeGraffenreidt Jr. has been a director of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company since 2002. He currently serves as the lead director and is a member of the corporate governance, executive and HR committees. He is also the former chairman and chief executive officer of WGL Holdings Inc. in Washington, DC.

Cathy E. Minehan has been a director of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company since 2009 and currently serves on the company’s audit and investment committees. Minehan is the dean of the School of Management at Simmons College in Boston, MA, and is a managing director of Arlington Advisory Partners LLC. Further, she was formerly the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 

Reprinted with permission of the authors and the Association of Corporate Counsel as it originally appeared: Mark Roellig, James H. DeGraffenreidt Jr. and Cathy E. Minehan, “Fixing What's Broken,” ACC Docket 33, no.2 (March 2015): 68-75. Copyright © 2015, the Association of Corporate Counsel. All rights reserved. If you are interested in joining ACC, please go to www.acc.com, call 202.293.4103 x360, or email membership@acc.com.