Diversity has become a major concern throughout the legal profession. While law school admissions and graduation numbers indicate that the profession is drawing a diverse crowd of talented students, the top ranks of many law firms show little diversity – a fact that can easily become a liability.
When a law firm or corporate legal department brings in diverse, qualified talent, they increase the number of viewpoints and life experiences their attorneys bring to the table. Attorneys are better able to take innovative approaches to problems and to address “blind spots” in their colleagues’ reasoning and plans. They also present a diversified public image to clients or corporate customers, leading to comfort and identification from more individuals.
Although law firms have been slow to change, corporate legal departments have embraced diversity. Attracting women, racial and ethnic minorities, and attorneys with disabilities has become a priority for many corporate law departments, whose leaders realize that they cannot ask the rest of the company to commit to diversity without demonstrating the value of diversity in their own departments.
Adding Diversity to Your Legal Department: 3 Tips
How can a legal department improve its own “diversity score” in a way that also improves the quality of its work? Consider the following tips:
- Think broadly. “Diversity” encompasses not only sex and race, but also disability, national origin, socioeconomic status, and previous employment history and life experience. Think broadly about what “diversity” means in the context of your department’s values and goals, and hire with these goals in mind.
- Manage well. Even the most diverse legal team needs effective management in order to generate creative and productive solutions to legal problems. Focus on inclusion in decision-making, facilitating communication, and collaborating to draw out diverse perspectives.
- Encourage innovation. Remind staff members that nobody has all the answers and that a range of views, backgrounds, and ideas offers the best opportunity for finding the right solution to any problem. Ensure work groups are constructed with the same diversity reflected in the department as a whole.
At Assigned Counsel, our experienced staffing partners take the time to listen to each client’s needs, so we can pair you with the legal talent that best fits your department’s culture and goals. Contact our experienced team today.