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Diversity in Law Firms - Myth vs. Reality

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Diversity has been one of the most discussed topics in law firms over the past few decades. Firms like Skadden established policies that supported

diversity

long before the concept of “diversity in workplaces” was universally recognized. The reason was simple – human beings do differentiate themselves into groups based on race, ethnicity, and gender and bond with people inside or outside one's affinity circle. It's not always one-way traffic. International law firms understood this earlier than others.
 
Diversity in Law Firms
 

Diversity in law firms is required for different and disparate reasons

For example, a corrupt politician of a third-world country would be resistant to working with a lawyer from his home country, but he would be agreeable to appoint someone who is not of his country or race. On the other hand, if it is a case of domestic dispute, the same man would prefer a lawyer from his home country, as it would be easier to communicate issues that are culturally conditioned. So client preference changes according to the nature of the client's problem. In most cases, getting to work with a lawyer who shares the client's own cultural conditioning or other distinguishing features helps to put a client in a comfort zone. Big law firms understood this quite early and pushed to increase diversity among the workforce in response to target markets.
 

The Equal Employment Opportunity

(“EEO”) and

Affirmative Action

(“AA”) laws brought into the law firm workspace a set of different reasons to sport and exhibit diversity. Big corporate clients wanted to show the world that they were choosy in their selection of

vendors

and service providers. In the end, a law firm is nothing more than another service provider, so the choice went to law firms which complied with EEO/AA and helped the corporate client retain its image. Now the big law firms are pushing to establish further diversity in the workplace to comply with EEO/AA.

Myths of workplace diversity in law firms

There are some myths about workplace diversity that are common to law firms and other service sector industries:

 
  • Diversity compliance is a problem: Actually it is an opportunity to differentiate your firm from others and gain a competitive edge.
  • Diversity is an HR problem: Maintaining diversity is everyone's problem and that includes every partner, administrator, staff, and associate.
  • Diversity means merely ensuring there is no race or gender discrimination: Wrong, diversity empowers your firm to establish comfortable channels of communication between your internal components (attorneys, employees) and external network (clients, service providers).
  • Diversity is only about compliance with EEO/AA: Wrong, diversity builds business and concerns all staff and clients – EEO/AA concerns itself usually and only with minorities and women.

Diversity in the workplace increases law firm success

There are some law firms that have truly started to understand the importance of diversity beyond

target markets

and EEO compliance, and these law firms understand that diversity forces people to accept and incorporate new ideas and methods of operation. Ultimately, diversity benefits the law firm and the legal industry as a whole.

However, the implementation of a diverse work place helps to screen and filter people who operate under a set of beliefs that may harm the firm's reputation.. . Diverse workplaces create an optimal environment where the best from different groups grow together by sharing ideas, working hard, and creating heightened awareness of the global nature of business in today's legal market.

Through communicating with a diverse group of employees, a firm will be able to expand through clear communication and innovative arguments incorporating a variety of viewpoints.Additionally, the firm will be geared to expand in the ever growing global legal market.. Increasing diversity in the workplace is a win-win for any law firm.


About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

About LawCrossing
LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.


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LawCrossing Fact #201: Since LawCrossing filters job results by category, your job search is more efficient.

 

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives


Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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  • We have more than 25 times as many legal jobs as any other job board.
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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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Out of all the other job boards I have used, LawCrossing was definitely the most impressive. I have received many job interviews from jobs I applied to on your site.
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