Is BigLaw not to blame for its low diversity?
August 26, 2015
Joe Patrice floats the idea that BigLaw isn’t wholly to blame for its low levels of diversity, citing the exit of lawyers from a diverse background to in-house roles. He rightly points out that BigLaw needs to ask itself why this happens. From my experience here in the UK, I experienced feeling very unwelcome in BigLaw and wondered why they had recruited me if they didn’t want the likes of me. If you recruit a state school educated non-Oxbridge female from a not very prosperous background, then accept her for what she is, please, and make her welcome. I guess political correctness would mean that this particular experience wouldn’t happen now but I recall a senior associate making partner and he took the male associates out to a strip club as his celebration! That, amongst other things, did rather send a message that BigLaw wasn’t for me. I moved in-house shortly after that and found it a more amenable environment.
After all, the law firm has to consider not only what makes a lawyer leap in-house, but what makes a diverse lawyer specifically leap in-house? Are there opportunities in-house that he or she don’t see within Biglaw? Those are important questions to answer because keeping diversity at the top is crucial in building a diverse environment through mentoring relationships, hiring guidance, and simply by serving as role models to demonstrate that diverse lawyers have a future with the firm
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