What Does Diversity and Inclusion Mean in the Legal Sector

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Taking time to reflect and foster a culture of self-awareness plays an important role in combating bias and promoting diversity and inclusion in law firms. When we are self-aware, we are forced to be open-minded and more aware of our own emotions. It helps us to have more emotional intelligence. As a result, we are inherently more likely to notice bias and value diversity in our world – and our workplace. The majority of law firms have their own LGBTQ+ networks, including Addleshaw Goddards OpenAG, Slaughter and Mays PRISM, Dentons GLOW and Pride at Norton Rose Fulbright. These networks organize events and support LGBTQ+ employees. Research your company of interest to see what it offers. With regard to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal field, the figures paint an even bleaker picture. For example, according to the ABA`s National Avocado Population Survey, 4 percent of working lawyers identified as black or African American and 4 percent as Hispanic or Latino in 2007. By 2017, these figures had increased only slightly to 5% each. However, data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2016, black or African American people made up 13.3 percent of the total U.S. population and Hispanic or Latino people made up 17.8 percent of the total U.S.

population. The percentage of active avocados who identified as Asian remained stable at 2 percent, and those who identified as Native American remained at about 1 percent. These numbers sometimes vary slightly from one reporting agency to another, but the fact that these minorities are woefully underrepresented in the legal profession is obvious, no matter where you look. However, there are ways to combat diversity fatigue. And that starts with recognizing small victories. When only 16.1% of lawyers come from different backgrounds, it`s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done. But a perspective is needed: this number rose from 10.3% 15 years ago, so progress has been made. The introduction of legal internships has paved the way for a legal career for those who would previously have been prevented from studying law due to high tuition fees.

Good branding isn`t just about having a pretty logo – every lawyer in your firm should also have an effective personal brand. If everyone in your company looks the same – in terms of gender, race, age, and sexual orientation – then your brand lacks diversity. You`re also likely missing out on connections with potential customers. So, by intentionally and thoughtfully creating a more diverse brand, you can help your business grow. Law firms have never been seen as a hub of diversity, as white men have long dominated the profession, especially in leadership positions. This lack of representation has attracted industry-wide attention in recent years. Various initiatives aim to change the status quo and provide more opportunities for women and minority lawyers. At this point, it is not enough to be satisfied with fine words to move forward. With black lawyers making up less than 2 percent of partners among firms surveyed by the National Association for Law Placement, the legal industry is still a long way from fully addressing internal racial inequality. These methods are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to diversity and inclusion efforts, and different businesses and legal departments have unique programs.

Whatever the specific initiatives, all crucially depend on management support – and integration into a company`s culture. To truly exemplify diversity and inclusion in law firms, it`s important to spend time in our communities and practices to see how we can make a difference in diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession. So be sure to develop an external communications and marketing strategy that promotes diversity and inclusion in law firms. It`s one thing to tell your team that diversity is a priority. But it is unlikely to progress without tangible efforts to identify and combat prejudice. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) publishes diversity data every two years. The data was collected by law firms in England and Wales and represents more than 181,333 people working in more than 8,782 companies in 2021. The latest figures show a small but steady increase in diversity among all lawyers compared to the previous survey in 2019. While this is good news and an indicator that things are moving in the right direction, the legal sector is still not as diverse as it should be. By supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives launched by national, state, and local bar associations, your organization can expand its diversity and inclusion reach, learn, and participate in diversity programs. In this way, you can also promote diversity in the wider legal community.

While bar association programs may vary in your jurisdiction, support may include things like participating in and promoting their diversity programs, encouraging law firm lawyers to speak at events or volunteer, or financially supporting programs. Here, too, progress begins from above. The first thing a law firm can do is prioritize creating a diverse leadership team. Diverse candidates will see diversity at all levels of the organization as a great attraction when considering a potential work environment – it`s a strong example of the possibility of advancement. Of course, finding different candidates for other non-leadership positions also helps attract and retain a larger talent pool. By promoting diversity within an organization, particularly at the executive level, leaders can change the culture within the organization and create an inclusive workplace. The positive effects on perception, retention and the end result are extremely practical and correct. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies have been at the heart of discussions between law firms.

There have been many webinars and panels hosted by partners on their company`s commitments to diversity and inclusion recently. Social movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have made discussions about gender and racial bias in the workplace urgent. Laws, goals, and globalization add to the pressure to re-evaluate D&I`s strategies. In addition, due to the current situation of homeworkers, companies are rethinking their inclusion tactics in the workplace. In this context, we analyze the rise of D&I discussions in the legal industry. Law firms that embrace diversity and inclusion, deeply integrating them into their culture, values, and business strategies, are considered socially responsible and enjoy a good reputation, meaning they are more attractive to job seekers and existing employees. A number of companies have joined The Valuable 500, an initiative to encourage 500 national and multinational organizations to transform and unlock the social and economic value of people with disabilities around the world. Here are some of the law firms that have committed to including disability inclusion in their leadership agenda: Mindfulness – or the ability to focus on what you think or feel – can be a useful tool for advocates to reduce stress. But it can also help lawyers take advantage of unconscious biases that might otherwise be overlooked. Several studies have found that when white participants practiced mindfulness and meditation, they experienced a reduction in automatic negative associations of black people.