Diversity - Organizations Tracking Law Firm Performance To Achieve Diversity

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 - 01:00

Minority Corporate Counsel Association

Many law firms have made great strides in diversifying their workforce. But, what about the others? Data recently reported by the National Association of Law Placement shows that nearly 43 percent of U.S. firms do not have one minority corporate counsel.

What accounts for this troubling statistic? What can be done to stem the tide? To address such questions, Jim Diggs, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of PPG Industries, invited Tom Gottschalk, General Counsel of General Motors; Rick Palamore, General Counsel of Sara Lee Corporation, and Gloria Santona, General Counsel of McDonald's, to serve with him on a General Counsel Advisory Group.

To help in-house counsel target their legal budgets to law firms that have put their diversity commitments into action, the group identified a need for a reference that tracks law firms' performance in achieving diversity. With their guidance, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) and Vault Inc. prepared the MCCA/Vault Guide to Law Firm Diversity Programs.

"The guide fills a void," explains MCCA's executive director Veta Richardson. "In the past, the range and types of information from law firms about their diversity initiatives was all over the place. Some firms had brochures, others had data about the demographics about their workforce posted on their web pages, and some didn't know what questions to answer."

Compiling data in a consistent format for easy tracking, the guide (1) profiles each law firm's diversity planning, implementation and representation; (2) helps to identify the best practices for the design and implementation of diversity initiatives in law firms; and (3) outlines the strategies, programs and metrics that law firms use to increase the recruitment, retention and promotion of minority and women attorneys.

Thanks to the generous support from law firms and corporate sponsors, MCCA and Vault have made the guide available at no cost to the Fortune 500 general counsel, countless bar association leaders, every law school career services office and all of the 150 law firms that participated. To obtain more information and order copies of the guide, visit www.vault.com/lawdiversity.