Racial and gender diversity have made their way into national conversations throughout this year, but law remains one of the least diverse professions in the country. As of 2015, only about one-third of practicing attorneys were women, and only 12 percent identified as nonwhite.
Alan Bryan, senior associate general counsel for legal operations and outside counsel management at Wal-Mart, and Laura Rees Acosta, director of diversity and inclusion at Goodwin Procter, recently spoke in a webinar organized by Wolters Kluwer about some of the ways that both corporate legal departments and law firms can leverage analytics and technology to steer their organizations toward a more diverse talent base.
Linda Hovanec, senior director of product management for Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions and webinar moderator, kicked off the event by explaining why both law firms and corporate legal departments should be incentivized to course-correct the homogeneity of staff: diversity impacts revenue.
"From a law department perspective, not only does it play a strategic role in advancement of the corporate diversity agenda, but diverse talent within law departments and outside counsel helps protect the company, helps mitigate risk, and helps protect the bottom line," Hovanec explained, citing studies showing that increased gender and racial diversity in large companies correlates with greater earnings.
But as Hovanec, Bryan and Rees Acosta all noted, diversity isn't just something a company or law firm can create overnight. Creating sustainable diversity in an organization requires a lot of small steps and planning. The first step, Hovanec noted, is to start taking steps to assess how big a diversity problem a company has.
"You just want to define your diversity program and start capturing some data," Hovanec said.