For the final session at the 2019 LCLD Annual Membership Meeting, attendees were asked to reflect on everything they heard throughout the day and respond to two questions with their tablemates. Attendees discussed (1) the organizational processes they think need to change to provide a more level playing field for diverse attorneys, and (2) what topics they would most like to see highlighted at future LCLD meetings.
The following were the most-discussed topics and strategies for addressing them:
1. How can we offer origination credit more equitably?
- Give credit for matter origination.
- Encourage associates to shadow more senior lawyers when working on matters, and offer experiential credit.
- Consider rotational relationship partners (and therefore rotational credit).
- Offer credit for specialized areas that lead to new work for a firm.
- Have direct, frank conversations between in-house counsel and law firms about who gets origination credit and why.
2. How can we assign work more equitably?
- Dig into how and why people get assignments, and take steps to make assignments less dependent on relationships.
- Track associates’ productivity and assign new work to less busy associates.
- Rotate assignments.
- Create individual development plans for associates and more junior in-house attorneys to ensure they are getting necessary experience.
3. How can we incentivize diversity for both minority and majority attorneys?
- Offer credit for mentoring/sponsoring diverse attorneys.
- Measure and reward inclusive partner behaviors.
- Give billable credit for diversity efforts.
- Create leader accountability by tying compensation to progress on diversity.
4. How can we remove bias from recruiting systems?
- Blind hiring (e.g. removing names, identifying factors from CVs).
- De-emphasize pedigree and other factors that don’t really predict success.
- Emphasize traits like grit in place of school rank and first-year grades.
5. How can we provide greater transparency around law firm compensation systems and what it takes to succeed in our organizations?
- Dig into how and why people get promoted, how firms measure success, etc.
- Provide clarity around expected milestone—processes, training, information.
- Share compensation by demographics with clients.
- For in-house counsel, ask for clarity on processes for associate promotion, how work is assigned, etc.
6. How can we remove bias from feedback processes?
- Think about how to follow up after feedback is given.
- Engage diversity advocates in the feedback process.
7. How can we better engage diversity allies?
- Educate straight white men about the value of D&I early in their careers.
- Offer bonuses/compensation for referring work to diverse attorneys.
8. How can we improve diversity in leadership positions?
- Consider set number of diverse candidates for open leadership positions (Mansfield/Rooney Rule).
- Create “committee of influence” to oversee staffing of key committees and governing bodies.
If your organization is engaged in these or other innovative diversity efforts, LCLD would love to hear more about them. Reach out to Communications Manager Caitlin Puffenberger at email@example.com.