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Business INSIGHTS e-News for Professional Services
Diversify Your Practice

Finding today's best employees means embracing change in hiring practices.

Of law firm partners, only 6.71 percent are minorities and 2.16 percent are women. For associates, 20.32 percent are minorities and 11.06 percent are women, according to the 2012?2013 National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Directory of Legal Employers. In addition, one quarter of the 1,200 offices and firms represented in the directory have no minority or women partners, and 13 percent do not have minority or women associates.

More than a socially responsible policy for a law firm, diversity fosters good business practices by helping to meet the varying demands of clients. Here are some ideas to improve your diversity efforts.

Update Recruiting Efforts

Typically, law firms recruit from the same educational institutions that tend to attract a similar demographic makeup of students year after year. Create a committee to come up with innovative recruiting strategies that cast a wider net for potential hires. Make sure your recruiting materials, including photographs, reflect the actual or desired diversity of your firm.

Issue Diversity Report Cards to Monitor Success

To determine if your diversity efforts are working, track metrics and issue a report card to hold managers accountable. Metrics should include not only the number of diverse employees but also their roles within the firm. Are minority or female lawyers advancing as quickly as their nonminority or male counterparts? Are these employees leaving the firm in greater numbers compared to others? Are lawyers' billable hours similar across the board so that minority or female lawyers have the same chance for advancement?

Provide Diversity Training

Employees should understand that the firm's goal is ultimately to hire the best employees, rather than attempt to fill a diversity quota. That said, continue to educate employees on the advantages of a diverse workforce and how diversity can help the firm grow.

  • Training should include sensitivity awareness in a diverse workforce, team building and using respectful language.
  • Reiterate the firm?s diversity policies during staff meetings and other employee gatherings. Include your diversity statement in the employee handbook.
  • For those employees hesitant to adapt, meet with them one-on-one to explain diversity policies and consider bringing in a third party for any conflicts that cannot be resolved internally.

Offer Benefits that Support Diversity

Flexible-scheduling policies are needed to accommodate different cultural and religious holidays. Benefits such as onsite day care, part-time work, child-care subsidiaries and the ability to occasionally work from home will help attract employees who may otherwise be unable to work in a traditional law firm setting.

 


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