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.

If you have questions about the Digest, articles you'd like to share, of if you would like to subscribe, please email Caitlin Puffenberger at

1. Advancing Diversity Through Sponsorship

Bloomberg Big Law Business, 12/15/16

“To increase diversity, law firms must explore new approaches to retain and advance women and attorneys of color,” writes Dara Mann, LCLD Mentor and Partner at Dentons US LLP. One solution is sponsorship, which she defines as “mentorship plus reputational investment.” Sponsors don’t have to be diverse to support women and diverse protégés, she says, but they should be rainmakers who are in the position to provide meaningful access and opportunities. Dentons recently initiated a formal sponsorship program; in the last two years, seven of its participants have earned promotions. 

2. 36 Law Firms Join Hackathon Alliance to Test Gender Parity Programs 

ABA Journal, 12/9/16

The ideas produced at the Women in Law Hackathon held earlier this year will soon be put to the test, as law firms agree to pilot five programs aimed at closing the gender gap. Of the 36 participating law firms, 29 are LCLD Member firms. The pilot programs include using a data-based compensation tool to combat unconscious bias; an app to help associates map their career paths; and a secondment program for female partners and associates.

3. Fish Files Amicus Brief Against Hate Speech 

Fish & Richardson, 12/20/16

Earlier this year, LCLD Member firm Fish & Richardson P.C. filed a pro bono Amicus Brief asking the Supreme Court to deny federal trademark protection to racist, sexist, and homophobic words. The brief was filed on behalf of 26 members of Congress, most of whom are members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The case is scheduled for argument on January 18. 

4. Preaching the Gospel of Diversity, but Not Following It

The New York Times, 12/17/16

Despite its criticism of other institutions and industries for their lack of diversity, The New York Times still struggles with diversifying its own ranks, writes The Times’s Public Editor. “Given The Times’s ambitions across global cultures and languages, it would seem that instead of being a lagger, it would insist on being a leader – and make that an explicit goal,” she says. “I see no sign that this is happening.” One issue she notes is that a few recent promotions of people of color to leadership roles draw attention away from the lack of diversity in the newsroom as a whole. “It is possible to change this. But The Times will need more humility, introspection, and openness than has been its habit in the past.” 

5. Why Aren’t There More Asian Americans in Leadership Positions?

Harvard Business Review, 12/19/16 

At several major tech companies, white men and women are 154 percent more likely than Asians to hold an executive role – despite the success of Asians and Asian Americans in lower-level positions. One reason for this gap is the friction between Asian stereotypes and the traits valued in business leaders. “It is time to rethink the ‘good leader’ prototype of being masculine, dictatorial, and charismatic… As the population of workers in the United States changes, so too should models for leaders.” 

6. The Men Who Mentor Women

Harvard Business Review, 12/7/16

“Acknowledging the crucial role that men can play in creating gender equality at work is necessary in order to truly engage the entire workforce in conversations surrounding equality and fairness at work.” Research found four key behaviors of male leaders who promote gender equality:

  • Using personal authority to push workplace culture toward gender equality
  • Thinking of gender inclusiveness as part of effective talent management
  • Providing gender-aware mentoring and coaching
  • Practicing other-focused leadership, not self-focused leadership