The Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Inc. (MCCA) announced a strategic alliance with FHG Media Enterprises (FHG) to offer the MCCA Diverse Outside Counsel Database (MCCA Database), an online database of professional profiles of diverse law firm attorneys searchable by practice expertise, geographic location, and more. Developed by FHG using state-of-the-art technology as an MCCA membership benefit, the MCCA Database enables in-house legal departments to identify highly qualified diverse outside counsel to retain for their legal work.
According to MCCA's executive director Veta Richardson, "The MCCA Database is just one of many technology tools that in-house counsel need to advance their goals to hire more diverse outside counsel teams. Over the years, I've heard that many have a hard time finding diverse lawyers with the particular expertise they need, when they need it. Now they will be able to identify talented diverse lawyers 24/7, 365 days a year."
A recent report issued by MCCA and Vault Inc. on the heels of similar analyses published by American Lawyer and the National Association of Law Placement found that minority attorneys have been disproportionately affected by law firm layoffs, including at the partnership level. Many law firms point to the economy as the reason for such significant reductions in the number of diverse lawyers. "I believe the best way to assist diverse lawyers to advance within firms is to make sure they develop strong books of business," said Ms. Richardson. "To law firm management, green is the color that matters most, and our new database will enable their diverse lawyers to further the firm's client development goals."
In addition, MCCA plans to use the prospect of listings in the database as a carrot to encourage more law firms to make a stronger commitment to diversity through acceptance into MCCA's new Law Firm Affiliate Network. As a prerequisite to becoming an MCCA law firm affiliate, the firm must agree to adhere to certain diversity principles established by MCCA. These principles include requirements for mentoring programs, processes to monitor work assignments, fully inclusive non-discrimination policies, and viable work/life balance programs. "Based upon early discussions with members of our in-house network, we know that they are looking forward to using this database," Ms. Richardson said. "There is a strong incentive for law firms to profile their diverse attorneys in this database, so we will require law firm affiliates to agree to a basic set of diversity principles before they are invited in."
Jo Saint-George, Esq., CEO and founder of FHG, said that "MCCA's diversity database is a win-win for law firms and corporate legal departments in that corporate lawyers can easily locate and retain diverse lawyers with the expertise they need, and law firms will be able to strategically highlight their firm's diversity in a way that could have a direct positive impact on their bottom line."
MCCA selected FHG Media Enterprises, a minority-owned new media and technology development company, as its strategic partner based upon FHG's experience in developing technology that solves problems. One such example is FHG's Diversity Compliance Manager (DCM), its proprietary, secure web-based tracking tool that was developed to enable legal departments to track the dollars they spend with diverse outside counsel. FHG also offers additional technology tools like its Minority Counselor Web TV (MCTV) where minority lawyers will be able post videos, which FHG calls "Vlawgs," to their own MCTV channel to highlight their legal experience and subject matter acumen. FHG further intends to launch its own show called "At the Bar" which will spotlight events and activities underway at minority bar associations.
"It is my hope that FHG diversity tools will enable great strides in furthering diversity within the legal profession by promoting positive images of minority lawyers within the legal profession and diverse communities where minority role models may be lacking," said FHG's Steven Saint-George, president and chief technology officer. "FHG is enthusiastic about partnering with MCCA. For more than a decade they have been the legal profession's leading advocate for diversity, and this alliance taps into both of our organizations' core competencies."
"MCCA is delighted to partner with FHG," said Ms. Richardson. "Successful partnerships begin with a commitment to the same core values, and I believe that working together, MCCA and FHG will be catalysts for positive change that will ultimately result in a more diverse and inclusive profession."