Law firm diversity data is available, but corporate clients aren’t using it fully to determine which ones need to improve in order to maintain or win their business.
The data doesn’t get systematically implemented to make a difference in diversity at law firms, Ricardo Anzaldua, senior legal adviser at Freddie Mac told Bloomberg Law’s Talent and Diversity Forum Nov. 8.
A huge amount of resources get invested in an activity that produces very little result, said Anzaldua, who was a panelist on the topic of leveraging data to increase diversity.
The legal industry is known to lag behind other comparable professions in diversity. The thought behind the data collection is that buyers of legal resources are in the best position to drive change.
Corporate clients have been collecting diversity data for a number of years to assess the dedication of their law firms to diversity and inclusion. This helps them when making hiring decisions but another goal is to motivate the firms to become more inclusive.
Information is gathered from firm internal processes, including billing data, work assignments, and talent development.
Companies are at different stages in data collection, analysis, and implementation, and shortfalls may be due to the lack of a uniform approach.
It’s been over two years since the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates passed Resolution 113 urging providers of legal services to expand and create opportunities at all levels of responsibility for a diverse range of attorneys.
It drafted the Model Diversity Survey for companies to easily compare the law firms they work with or the ones they want to retain.
But since companies aren’t all using it, there’s no single data set for easily comparing firms.
And some don’t have the capability to analyze it in order discuss diversity with outside counsel, Robert Grey, president of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, said.
Some companies like Allegis Global Solutions have just begun delving into the data and still have many questions for firms they work with, Marianela Peralta, the company’s general counsel and corporate secretary said.
Bank of America, on the other hand, has been collecting and analyzing data, and awards the law firm that ranks best on its diversity and inclusion metrics, said Larry Chattoo, associate general counsel at the bank.
Anzaldua’s former employer, MetLife, would use the data to fire firms that couldn’t meet its goals for diversity “from top down,” he said.
The idea of democratizing information for minority lawyers and creating a system where you can apply that information will make a huge difference and allow us to scale what we do,” Grey said.
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