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. Elizabeth Temple of Womble Carlyle: Innovation and Diversity to Serve Clients Better

The National Law Journal, 3/21/16

LCLD Member Elizabeth Temple says she plans to use her role as the first female CEO of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice to lead the firm into “a new era of legal business.” Temple discussed law firms’ need to be willing to innovate, to support young attorneys, and to display inclusiveness and transparency in firm leadership, which she says has led to an inclusive culture and high retention rates at Womble Carlyle. “In my experience, amazing things happen when a talented and diverse group of lawyers and staff come together to think creatively about what clients need and don’t need,” Temple added. 

2. Trends and Innovations Boosting Diversity in the Law and Beyond

Law Practice Today, 3/15/15

The key to improving diversity in the legal profession is for law firms and corporate legal departments to embrace innovation and measure and act on their results, writes Caren Ulrich Stacy, CEO of Diversity Lab. Stacy lists five innovative ways firms and legal departments can drive diversity:  

  • Move beyond traditional sourcing for diverse talent. Examples include LCLD Member firm Orrick’s legal-specific military job fair and Greenberg Traurig’s Residency Program for law school graduates.
  • Minimize bias in all stages of the hiring process. For example, Microsoft runs job descriptions through an application that flags gender-biased and otherwise stereotypical language.
  • Engage white men in diversity initiatives, both in leadership roles and as sponsors for women and minorities.
  • Incentivize diversity, as in Microsoft’s tiered bonus system for diverse outside counsel.
  • Replace traditional hands-off mentoring programs with more structured sponsorship programs that are regularly evaluated and updated, such as the LCLD Fellows Program

3. Women and Minorities Are Penalized for Promoting Diversity

Harvard Business Review, 3/23/16

A survey of 350 executives found that women and minorities who engaged in diversity-valuing behaviors received much lower ratings from their bosses than peers who were not openly involved in promoting diversity. White male executives who engaged in diversity-valuing behaviors also did not benefit in their evaluations. “The harsh reality discussed here highlights the importance of putting appropriate structures and processes in place to guarantee the fair evaluation of women and minorities," the authors wrote. "The challenge of creating equality should not be placed on the shoulders of individuals who are at greater risk of being crushed by the weight of this goal.” 

4. Women Could Be Majority of Law Students in 2017

ABA Journal, 3/16/16

Women may outnumber men in law schools by 2017, according to data from the American Bar Association. From 2011 to 2015, the number of men attending law school has dropped at a greater rate than the number of women, and in 2015, women outnumbered men by a margin of 100 or more at several major law schools, including American University, Howard University, and the University of California at Berkeley. If these trends continue, the total number of women in law school will soon surpass the number of men. 

5. Here’s Why Economists Still Can’t Fully Explain the Gender Pay Gap

Fortune, 3/23/16

When controlling for age, education, experience, company, industry, geography, and other similar factors, the gender wage gap drops from 76 cents to about 5 cents. While this smaller number may sound like progress, experts caution that its existence is still extremely troubling, because the only explanation for the gap is gender bias. Also notable is the fact that those parts of the larger gender pay gap that can be explained away – i.e. differences in education, experience, job title, and industry – may also be caused by gender bias. “There may be larger reasons why a woman has a lower level of education or works in a lower paying field than her male cohorts. Perhaps she was steered away from certain majors when she was in school, or can’t work in an industry like law or finance because of care-taking responsibilities.”