National plaintiffs firms are looking to lure minority law grads and associates to their firms as they implement new hiring pipelines and focus on inclusion.
Efforts to improve diversity in the legal profession have spread well beyond Big Law, with issues of recruitment and inclusion falling squarely at the feet of plaintiffs firms’ leaders. And many of them are finding a business imperative to get more effective on both fronts.
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“When you rise through the ranks facing a greater degree of hardship and challenge, you have to accumulate more adaptive skills and a different, more diverse kind of experience,” Betsy A. Miller, partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, explained.
She points out that the legal profession is still catching up to other industries when it comes to developing and rewarding the qualities of effective leadership, including: curiosity, emotional intelligence, compassion and courage. She notes these attributes require a different kind of development and investment of resources than those focused on technical legal skills.
“It’s time for the profession to become more curious about how we can evolve and innovate in this increasingly complex and fast-paced world around us. … And we need to ask ourselves: are we creating diversity because it looks good on paper? Or are we creating diversity because we truly see the value that different experiences, perspectives, genders, ages, cultures and backgrounds bring to a law firm? A true commitment to diversity and inclusion is critical to the future health and success of any law firm and to teaching us how best to support each other and our most vulnerable clients.”
Cohen Milstein has created a summer associate as well as year-long fellows program for junior lawyers and law students from under-represented backgrounds.
Today, eight of the firm’s 10 practice groups are led or co-led by female partners, including women of color, and the firm’s five-member executive committee includes two female partners, one of whom is a woman of color. The firm’s internal management committees all include female partners, LGBTQ partners and partners of color.
Yet work remains to be done across the plaintiffs bar.
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