Law Firm Diversity – 3 Ways to Discern Fact from Fiction
Law firm diversity policies: would they influence your decision to accept an offer?
It’s an interesting time we live in, when values have become trends, and when trends are more powerful than ever. A prime example is diversity and inclusion. When realized as values, diversity and inclusion foster a sense of safety and belonging for all employees. As a trend, the words become a website buzz phrase, often emphasized with a distinct font and accompanied by a dedicated hyperlink.
It’s natural to feel skeptical as to whether a company or firm actually embraces diversity– or if they’ve simply adopted the vogue yet vague verbiage of “celebrating inclusion as an integral part of our culture.” On a larger scale, this is the problem with trends.
When they take the masses by storm, it’s incredibly hard to discern the true players from the posers. On the surface level, they seem very much the same. So how do you tell the difference?
Drilling down on the numbers helps. At Above the Bar, the percentage of our placements that have been diverse has increased every year since our founding in 2016, topping out at 78% for both 2020 and 2021.
With respect to law firms, specific information can give you an idea as to how much they value diversity and inclusion.
Below are three resources you can look to:
The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) provides a directory offering granular data on the ratio of female to male associates and partners, as well as a breakdown on the number of latinX, black, and LGBT identifying attorneys for each firm office.
The Diversity Lab oversees the Mansfield Rule Certification program, which “measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30% percent women, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.” You can check to see which firms are Mansfield compliant here.
The Benefit Corporation Directory indicates which law firms are certified as Benefit Corporations, or “B Corps.” Businesses with this designation have demonstrated that they “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance” in order to “balance profit and purpose,” all with the aim to “build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.” A shining example of a B Corp in the legal world is Hanson Bridgett, a purpose-driven AmLaw 200 law firm based in San Francisco, emphasizing pro bono work, diversity and inclusion, and the representation of public entities. ATB has placed multiple attorneys at Hanson Bridgett, all of whom hold values that align closely with those of the firm.
Over the years, studies and articles (such as this Thomson Reuters piece) have pointed to the benefits that come with law firm diversity and inclusion – more productivity, overall greater job satisfaction, and higher levels of innovation and creativity. ATB recently conducted a poll asking whether a firm’s diversity policies would influence a candidate’s decision to accept an offer – 33% collectively said “a little” or “not at all,” while a majority of 67% collectively said “absolutely” or “maybe.” (More detailed results are below.)
As more and more candidates come to value a firm’s diversity policies when considering an offer, the emphasis placed on law firm diversity and inclusion will hopefully evolve from being a trend to a steadfast value. It’s certainly something we value at Above the Bar.
If you are considering a lateral move, we are here to help. We are committed to diversity-focused recruiting practices, and take the time to understand your values and match you with a company culture that resonates with you. We will guide you through the legal job recruitment process and properly prepare you for interviews.
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