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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This week, in news related to diversity and inclusion...

1. Big Law Gender Parity Initiative Picks Up Momentum

Bloomberg BNA, 3/10/16

Fifty-four law firms have signed up to participate in the Women in Law Hackathon, a competition in which teams will develop innovative ways to retain and promote women in BigLaw. “The goal is to develop something new – not just conclude that we all need better training or mentoring or compensation systems,” said LCLD Member Mark Wasserman, Managing Partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. The teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in June, and the winners will receive prize money to donate to a nonprofit organization that advances women in the legal profession. Many LCLD Member firms are participating; see the full list here

2. Law Firm’s First Latina Partner, With Boost from NYU Program

The New York Times, 3/3/16

Damaris Hernandez was named the first Latina partner at LCLD Member firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP earlier this year, making her one of a handful of Hispanic women who are partners at premier law firms. Hernandez credits a scholarship program at the New York University School of Law for providing her with access to a network of law firm partners, judges, and Supreme Court justices that gave her an edge. “The story of her route to the top also reveals how much more complex the journey is for minorities and women than for the white men who overwhelmingly dominate the firms. Skill is only one of the keys. Being able to navigate unspoken rules is at least as important.” 

3. Women of Color Make Up Just 2.27% of Equity Partners

BisNow, 3/8/16

Women of color and Hispanics continue to be very underrepresented in the legal profession, according to new data from Vault and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Just 2.27 percent of equity partners are women of color, despite the fact that female minority associates outnumber male minority associates. Overall, minorities make up 14.9 percent of law firm lawyers; women of color make up 7.4 percent of all lawyers. Also of note, Hispanic lawyers are the most underrepresented group, at 3 percent of law firm attorneys, compared to 17 percent of the U.S. population. 

4. Diversity Leads to Better Decisions, Says Deloitte’s Juliet Bourke

Financial Review, 3/3/16

Diversity in thinking leads to diverse approaches to problem solving, according to new research from Juliet Bourke, who leads the Diversity and Inclusion practice at Deloitte. “Visible racial diversity is a curiosity trigger and it causes someone else to listen harder, ask more questions, and think more deeply,” Bourke said. For example, homogenous groups gravitate toward one or two methods of problem solving, while more diverse groups used up to six different methods, with longer conversations and more “stretched thinking.” The variety in problem solving techniques also leads to more innovative solutions, she said.

5. Meet Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

USA Today, 3/16/16

President Obama announced Wednesday that he would nominate Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Garland is a Chicago native and a Harvard graduate who has served 19 years as the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He has received report from Democrats and Republicans in the past and is widely recognized as a moderate. Some question Obama’s choice to put forth a white male nominee, after making a point to nominate a diverse slate of federal judges throughout his presidency. However, Garland's moderate record gives him the best chance of approval from a Republican Senate that has vowed to turn down all of Obama's nominations.  

6. Why So Many Thirtysomething Women Are Leaving Your Company

Harvard Business Review

Organizational leaders say attrition is high for women in their thirties because of family demands. However, 65 percent of women say they found better pay elsewhere, 62 percent said their former position didn’t provide enough opportunities for development, and 56 percent said the work was not as interesting or meaningful as they had hoped. “As a result of the misperceptions about why women leave their organizations, there is a disconnect between current talent retention strategies and the desires of top female talent… Leaders have the opportunity to retain and advance their top talent, both male and female, by focusing on common priorities: pay and fair compensation.” 

7. Gender Imbalance in Law

DAWN, 3/15/16

Despite a 1923 amendment that made it possible for women to practice law in Pakistan, female judges and lawyers still face extreme discrimination. Only seven of Pakistan’s 120 high court judges are women, and there have been no women on the Supreme Court or on the Pakistan Bar Council. In addition to broader cultural discrimination, women lawyers face specific challenges, including a lack of transparency in the selection of high court judges, lack of action against sexual harassment, and refusal from their male peers to make accommodations like separate bathrooms or maternity leave for female judges and lawyers.