Recognizing partner law firms for furthering diversity in the legal profession

Nelita Collins

In 2008, we launched the Law Firm Diversity Program (LFDP) to reward our law firm partners who make progress in diversifying their workforce. We are committed to accelerating this progress, and in the last 13 years, we’ve seen consistent and steady progress in legal workforce diversification, including an almost 33% increase of hours worked on Microsoft’s behalf by lawyers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, LGBTQI+, persons with disabilities and veterans.

Law Firm Diversity Program 2021 results

Today, I am proud to announce the results of our Law Firm Diversity Program for 2021 and recognize the accomplishments, progress and commitments of our law firm partners to create more diverse and inclusive legal organizations.

During the past fiscal year, the LFDP saw the following growth:

  • Diversity among executive committees grew from 43% to 47.4% for an overall 10% annual growth
  • Diversity in attorney hours spent on Microsoft matters grew from 60% to 63% for an overall 5% annual growth
  • Diversity among the partner ranks grew from 37.9% to 40.1% for an overall 5.8% annual growth, including a 4% growth in partners who are women

Since 2015, the year dedicated to increasing diversity in leadership among our Strategic Partner Program (SPP) firms, we’ve seen continued progress:

  • Diversity among management and executive committees grew from 31.2% to 45.6% for an overall 46.1% growth
  • Diversity among partners grew from 33.2% to 40.1% for an overall 20.7% growth
  • Diversity among attorneys working on Microsoft matters grew from 50% to 64.2% for an overall 28.4% growth
  • Diversity in partner hours spent on Microsoft matters grew from 35.8% to 52.3% for an overall 46% growth

Participating firms were eligible to earn a full bonus of up to 3% of their annual fees by meeting diversity targets in each of these areas. This year, 94% of participant firms earned a bonus with more than half meeting 50% or more of the diversity goals. We also continued to see progress and positive trends for partners who are women, diversity among executive committees and diversity among those representing Microsoft matters.

Celebrating law firms achieving diversity goals

Congratulations to the five law firm partners that met or exceeded all the diversity goals set by the program this year, earning the full program bonus. We celebrate the efforts and achievement of these firms:

“At Cooley, we believe true workplace diversity means offering all employees the tools, training and mentoring they need to succeed. It means embracing the importance of diversity on our client teams. It looks beyond our four walls, fostering community involvement and participation in local and national diversity initiatives. It means leading by example in our profession.” – DeAnna Allen, Partner, Cooley LLP

Sign for David Wright law firm
“Our vision is to foster a culture where all talented individuals – including those from populations traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession – can have, and can see, a path to success. Through Davis Wright Tremaine’s partnership with Microsoft, we look forward to advancing that vision.” — Scott MacCormack, Managing Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
sign for dla piper law firm

“We believe that the best, most effective teams are diverse teams, and that improving diversity is a moral and business imperative, both for our firm and for the legal industry as a whole.” Jackie Park, Co-U.S. Managing Partner, DLA Piper

 sign for morgan lewis law firm“As a profession, we can have a greater impact on diversity by joining our efforts. We are proud to partner with Microsoft on this vital shared commitment.” Jami McKeon, Chair, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

sign for white and case law firm

“We are so thrilled to be recognized by Microsoft, a technology pioneer whose use of metrics to drive accountability and commitment to diversity are driving inclusion across the legal profession.” Arlene Arin Hahn, Partner and Global Diversity Committee Chair, White & Case

Investments in an inclusive culture

While making progress on diverse representation is a key focus of the LFDP, that progress cannot be sustained if the culture of an organization does not make investments in infrastructure that promote a more inclusive environment. The effects of the pandemic highlighted just how important continued investments in D&I leadership, mentoring, sponsorship and collective conversations were to creating an environment where everyone can thrive.

The changes above were influenced not only by the current data collected under the program, but also by a view into the investments that firms have made to create more inclusion, equity and diversity in their organizations. A survey of partner firms’ D&I programs shows:

  • 93% of firms have a dedicated D&I committee
  • 89% of firms have a D&I strategic plan that includes a focus on recruiting, retention and promotion
  • 82% of firms provide firm-wide D&I training
  • 82% of firms participate in programs for early pipeline development targeted at college and high school students and/or younger demographics

A clear opportunity for 2022

Setting clear and measurable goals year-over-year not only helps us to celebrate progress, it also surfaces opportunities to grow. As recently highlighted in our Racial Equity Initiative, one of Microsoft’s focus areas to address racial inequities is engaging our ecosystem. We will continue to evolve and invest in our relationship with our partners and suppliers in increasing diversity throughout their organizations to drive greater impact across the ecosystem and industry. Though the data shows that progress is trending upward for women partners, executive committees becoming more diverse, and increased representation of those working on Microsoft matters, it also reveals opportunities for change at the partnership level in representation of LGBTQI+, veterans, people with disabilities and racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African American, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Latinx partners.

The numbers show there are great opportunities across the industry. According to the 2020 ABA Diversity Survey, approximately 70% of firms’ leaderships were white men, 20% were white women, 7% were minority men and 3% were minority women. The average percentage of LGBTQ+ firm leadership seldom rose above 5%, and attorneys with disabilities accounted for less than 1% leadership.[1]

To target our efforts to address this need, we are evolving the program to include the following opportunities for growth in 2022:

  1. Increasing diversity growth targets among firm leadership. This year, our LFDP growth targets are aimed to directly address increased representation of racial and ethnic minorities in leadership – particularly African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx and Asian American partners – as well as focusing on the growth of leadership in LGBTQ+, veterans, and disabled lawyers.
  1. Increasing diversity growth targets in every category. This year, we are increasing the partner-level growth targets for all diverse categories across program metrics.

We will continue to invite firms that undertake substantial work for us in the U.S. to join our program, including partnering with law firms in the United Kingdom through our UK LFDP, which recently announced its program results for FY21.

We are in a season of increased uncertainty and change, and we cannot let these times hold back progress. Thank you to our partners and suppliers who help us serve our clients and customers and drive greater measurable diversity in the legal profession.

Visit Law Firm Diversity Program to learn more.

 


[1] 2020 Model Diversity Survey

Tags: diversity, Law, Law Firm Diversity Program, LFDP

https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2021/12/14/lfdp-law-firm-diversity-program-2021-results/

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