Law Firms Focus on Minority Hiring by LawCrossing


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									   CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNER                                                                                                   1.800. 973. 1177

Law firms focus on minority hiring
[Christine Willard]
Moral, business interests raise awareness of differences.

Despite hits to hiring in general because of         direct impact on the output into the profes-      departments, deans of the state’s four law
the economic downturn, major law firms               sion.                                             schools and representatives of other bar
across the country are under pressure to                                                               associations in the state, including the three
continue efforts to diversify their legal staffs.    With larger numbers of minority law stu-          minority bar associations, attended.
                                                     dents, “the hiring base is much broader,
“There’s the case for doing it because it’s          giving us an available pool of talent that in-    Bourne’s goals are twofold: to increase the
the right thing to do, and then there is the         evitably leads to a greater mix,” Dreizer said.   minority representation in the state bar and
case that it is good for business,” said James                                                         to encourage greater participation from
Bourne, president of the Indiana State Bar           Cynthia-Clare Tagoe, a native of Ghana who        minority members who currently belong.
Association. He has made increasing minor-           joined White, Case as an associate after she      Acknowledging and embracing the difference
ity involvement a goal of his tenure.                received her J.D. from Case Western Reserve       a minority person brings to the firm helps
                                                     University School of Law in 2001,said diver-      make minority attorneys more comfortable
“Our clients, especially large corporations,         sity is welcomed at that firm.                    and get their careers on track, participants
are requiring the law firms they work with                                                             heard. Having a mentor, whether a minority
to provide them with statistical information         “It takes all kinds to make what we do work,      or not, is important.
and encouraging the assignment of minor-             in all legal markets around the world,” she
ity attorneys to their matters,” said Alison         said.                                             The economic downturn has reduced turn-
Dreizen, partner in charge of diversity at                                                             over as well as total hiring. Junior associates
White, Case in New York City.                        Retaining attorneys of color is as crucial as     are staying in their first jobs longer.
                                                     hiring them. At White, Case, a new program
That firm has about 1,600 attorneys, more            randomly assigns a coach to every associate       “Firms are focused on having their classes
than half of them in offices outside the             to answer questions and guide their careers.      be as representative as possible,” Dreizer
United States.                                       The firm organizes attorneys into small           said. “It gives hope that in 10 or 15 years, we
                                                     practice areas.                                   won’t be talking about this subject.”
The National Association for Law Place-
ment’s most recent study, released last fall,        “It’s harder to get lost in the crunch,”          This story appeared in the September, 2003
showed that 3.71 percent of minority attorney        Dreizen said.                                     edition of The National Jurist, www.nation-
are partners in major law firms, an incre-                                                   
mental increase from the previous year.              Diversity training focused on law firms be-
                                                     gins this fall at the leadership level.
“The profession has not achieved its goal to
have representation that equates to repre-           “Experimentation helps each firm determine
sentation in law school classes,” said Jerry         what is going to work best for them in reten-
Nash, deputy director of NALP.                       tion,” Dreizen said.

He pointed to the June Supreme Court deci-           Indiana’s Bourne was the driving force in a
sion affirming the University of Michigan            recent Diversity Summit. Managing part-
School of Law’s admission policy, saying the         ners from firms with 10 or more members,
focus on the front-end of admissions has a           managers of corporate and government legal


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