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  • Fri, April 08, 2022 11:25 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Karen Sloan

    The expected confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court could prompt a greater number of diverse students — particularly Black women — to pursue a law degree, legal educators predicted this week.

    Jackson, who would be the first Black women to sit on the high court, has won the support of three Republican senators and is poised to be confirmed as early as Thursday. Black women deans at three U.S. law schools described her rise as an inspiration to underrepresented groups in the profession.

    “To see soon-to-be Justice Jackson sitting in her robe — the image of it is so powerful and meaningful,” said Rutgers law dean Kimberly Mutcherson, noting that many first-generation students have told her they never encountered a lawyer who looked like them until law school. “That can plant a little seed where a girl thinks, ‘Hmm, I wonder how you get there?’”

    Racial diversity among law students has grown incrementally over the past 15 years but still lags behind the U.S. population. Non-white students earned 31% of the Juris Doctors awarded in 2020, up from 23% in 2007, according to law school non-profit AccessLex Institute. About 8% of this year’s first-year law students are Black, according to the American Bar Association, compared to more than 12% of the U.S. population. Fewer than 10% of federal judges are Black, ABA data show.

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  • Fri, January 28, 2022 10:44 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Andrew Maloney

    In 2021, the operative question for the legal industry went from “whether” to “how much.”

    If the previous year showed Big Law could survive and even thrive in the face of a global catastrophe such as the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was about how much further lawyers and firms could continue to push in spite of it.

    On bonuses, remote work and profits, many firms did go above and beyond their surprisingly strong 2020 marks. They were more creative, more flexible and made more money in 2021.

    The same can be said for lateral movement. Perhaps it’s no surprise that in a year that coined the phrase “Great Resignation” and in which “talent war” was the most popular term-of-art in Big Law, the number of moves in 2021 significantly outpaced those in 2020, according to industry observers and multiple data sources.

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  • Fri, January 14, 2022 10:44 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Karen Sloan

    Law firms brought on a historically diverse cohort of summer associates in 2021, according to new data from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), outpacing diversity gains among more senior lawyers.

    The proportion of summer associates of color climbed to 41% in 2021, up from 36% in 2020. That represents the largest year-over-year increase since NALP began tracking this data in 1993, it said.

    Summer associates work at law firms after their first or second year of law school and are typically offered permanent associate jobs afterward.

    Much of 2021's summer associate diversity gains were among women. The proportion who were women of color increased 3% to a quarter of all summer law students hired to work in the more than 500 law firm offices that reported figures to NALP.

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  • Fri, December 10, 2021 9:45 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written By: Andrew Maloney

    Amid a “Great Resignation” and lingering uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, law firms had “one of the strongest years on record” in 2021, according to a new report.

    The Citi Hildebrandt 2022 Client Advisory, published Thursday, found an average revenue increase of 14.7% and demand increase of 6.6% across all segments of the Am Law 200 and beyond, and with relatively tame expenses concluded net income and profits per equity partner could also reach heights not seen since before the global financial crisis in the late 2000s.

    While the industry has sometimes focused on rates driving revenue, Gretta Rusanow, managing director and head of advisory services for the Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group, said the growth this year was more about demand.

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  • Fri, October 15, 2021 10:23 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Dan Packel

    Hunton Andrews Kurth managing partner Wally Martinez wasn’t the only leader of an Am Law 100 firm of Hispanic origin when he took the reins at predecessor firm Hunton & Williams in 2006. At that point in time, Cesar Alvarez was serving as CEO at Greenberg Traurig.

    But after Alvarez stepped down in 2010, Martinez’s personal success stood out among a broader failing in the legal industry. Hispanics comprised 16% of the U.S. population in that year’s census, but only 1% of the top roles in the Am Law 100. The ranks of Latinx law firm leaders have ticked upward over the past two years. In 2020, Hogan Lovells installed Miguel Zaldivar as its CEO, and earlier this year Sidley Austin announced that partner Yvette Ostolaza will step in as the chair of the firm’s nine-person management committee in 2022.

    The three leaders, who all share roots in Cuba, took the time to share their stories with The American Lawyer for Hispanic Heritage Month, which comes to an end Friday. They also addressed how Big Law can better provide leadership opportunities for diverse individuals.

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  • Fri, October 08, 2021 12:13 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: David E. Schwartz and Kimberly Franko Lower

    On June 15, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance explaining its views on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton Cnty., 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), and clarifying employers’ legal obligations with respect to LGBTQ+ workers. In the landmark Bostock decision, the Supreme Court held that the prohibition against sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) includes employment discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. Specifically, the new guidance from the EEOC (EEOC Guidance) explains that an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of gender identity by prohibiting an employee from dressing consistent with the employee’s gender identity; by denying an employee equal access to a bathroom consistent with that employee’s gender identity; or by refusing to use pronouns or names consistent with the employee’s gender identity. With many employers returning to the office over the next several weeks, New York employers should consider how to implement the EEOC Guidance, as well as similar state and city laws.

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  • Fri, September 17, 2021 11:26 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Dylan Jackson

    All 118 law firms in the latest round of Diversity Lab’s Mansfield program have achieved certification—a first for the four-year-old program.

    The full certification comes in a year where the organization was worried that the pandemic would discourage law firms from committing the resources required to participate.

    “Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the Mansfield Rule certified firms have not deviated from their goal of ensuring that law firm leadership reflects the rich diversity of the profession. We are enormously proud to work with such a committed group of firms,” said Natalia Marulanda, Mansfield Rule director at Diversity Lab.

    Law firms that participated in the program needed to show that they had affirmatively considered at least 30% women, underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities and senior lateral positions.

    In each annual iteration, Diversity Lab adds another requirement to its certification process. For this round, Mansfield 4.0, firms that wanted to achieve “Mansfield Plus” certification had to ensure that 30% of the lawyers staffed on matters resulting from formal pitch meetings be from historically underrepresented groups, in addition to the requirement these lawyers make up 30% of notable leadership roles.

    Of the 118 firms, 92 achieved Mansfield Plus certification.

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  • Fri, April 09, 2021 10:49 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Daphne Higgs and Laura Zagar

    It’s no secret that women, particularly women of color, have for decades faced tremendous hurdles when it comes to achieving equal opportunities and compensation in the legal industry.

    Despite nearly two decades of parity in the enrollment of women and men in law schools, women lawyers represent a minority of equity partners across the Am Law 200. The statistics are even more disheartening when focused solely on women of color.

    While progress has been made, the legal industry’s work toward equality has a long way to go. This was true before the pandemic, but COVID-19 is setting gender equality back even further.

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  • Fri, March 05, 2021 11:59 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written By: Paulina Firozi and Allyson Chiu

    Jeremy Bailenson was exhausted. It was a Friday in late March and he had just finished his first full week working from home during the coronavirus pandemic — nine-hour days spent glued to a laptop in a spare bedroom of his house.

    Then a reporter asked him to jump on another video call for an interview. He thought to himself: Why does this need to happen on video?

    It’s been nearly a year since he first experienced that video-call-induced exhaustion — an early glimpse of what millions of others may have faced since beginning to work remotely. Now he’s published a paper outlining why video chats may exact such a mental toll, and suggesting how you can reduce fatigue.

    “There was a transformation in that we went from rarely videoconferencing to videoconferencing very frequently and without really knowing the parameters of what the costs and the benefits are and how to really think about that,” said Bailenson in an interview. He is a professor and the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

    The peer-reviewed article was published last month in the American Psychological Association’s Technology Mind and Behavior journal. It draws on existing academic theory and research and says there are four possible reasons for “Zoom fatigue.” The paper, Bailenson writes, should not be perceived as “indicting” Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms.

    “I am a huge fan of what Zoom has done,” he said. “I just think asking yourself, ‘Do I really need to be on video for this?’ is a nice way to approach a moderation strategy toward your media day.”

    The paper was widely shared on social media, and reactions poured in responding to Bailenson’s analysis. Some suggested his paper essentially called for a return to phone calls.

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  • Fri, February 19, 2021 11:56 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Zach Warren

    As Christine Simmons noted last week, Coca-Cola GC Bradley Gayton made waves in late January in unveiling a new set of diversity standards for outside firms working with the company. According to the new guidelines, law firms must provide Coca-Cola with self-identified diversity data for a quarterly analysis of the diversity of teams working on the company’s matters. At least 30% of the lawyers on Coca-Cola’s new cases have to be diverse, half must be Black. Firms that fall short multiple times will see a reduction in fees or possibly lose Coca-Cola’s business entirely.

    Gayton’s efforts advance the ball further in what has been an increasing realization among corporate legal departments and law firms alike: diversity metrics have real power. A record 117 firms sought certification for the industry’s “Mansfield Rule” last year, after all, in which firms agree to consider at least 30% women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and senior positions. “You can’t get what you don’t measure,” Diversity Lab CEO Caren Ulrich Stacy said last summer. “One thing the Mansfield Rule does that no one really talked about is, as a foundational premise, it requires that firms track their candidate pools.”

    But amidst this new rush to measure, it’s also worth asking the question: What data should the legal industry actually be measuring? Some legal initiatives have focused on strictly quantitative data—number of diverse attorneys, percentage of partners, etc.—in large part because it’s easy to track. But there’s also qualitative data to consider—the quality of work diverse lawyers are getting, advancement opportunities, inclusion in practice culture, and more. In Coca-Cola’s new guidelines, for instance, there are the quantitative metrics, but also qualitative: Outside firms need to be transparent about how origination credit is awarded and identify at least two diverse attorneys as a potential successor to a partner on Coca-Cola’s book of business. But that’s the sort of data the legal industry may not be ready for.

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