The percentage of Black equity partners has increased less than 1% since 1991 at the elite law firms that pledged to improve racial diversity 30 years ago
NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Bodhala, the legal spend management platform, today released a report that presents actionable solutions for companies looking to create meaningful change in their law firms' timekeeper diversity and advance Black equity partners.
Given the national conversation driven by Black Lives Matter, Bodhala's report, "Dismantling the Barriers to Racial Diversity in Law Firms," reveals how the nation's most elite law firms have failed to promote Black partners despite a very public pledge to do so 30 years ago by signing The Association of the Bar of the City of New York's "Statement of Diversity Principles."
Percentage of Black Equity Partners Increases Less than 1 Percent since 1991 at Elite Firms
Bodhala tracked the performance of the 15 top firms that signed the statement that still exist. With only 20 Black partners in 1991 and just 37 at those same firms today, the percentage of Black partners has increased less than 1%. These firms serve as trusted counsel to America's best and globally recognized brands across financial services, private equity and capital markets, technology and retail.
"Companies around the world have implemented new supplier diversity programs to promote Black businesses. Why can't we do the same for law firms? Buyers have considerable leverage to make a meaningful impact on diversity at the partnership level and across the ranks to ensure future progress," says Raj Goyle, CEO and co-founder of Bodhala.
Origination Credit Key to Holding Firms Accountable for Meaningful Diversity Progress
Goyle points to origination credit tracking as a key way corporate counsel can influence their firm's diversity. A financial incentive to lawyers who bring in new work, origination credit is determined by firm partners and has historically snubbed minorities. The majority of general counsels and senior in-house lawyers say they're entirely unaware of how origination credit is awarded, despite being regarded as the primary driver of ownership stakes at AmLaw 100 firms.
Though Bodhala's report focuses on tracking origination credit to combat anti-Blackness in the legal profession, all people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals living with a disability have been deprived of law firm riches for decades. Bodhala firmly believes that action against anti-Blackness in the legal profession will be a rising tide for all underrepresented groups.
"To make sustainable progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession, it's critical to address how law firm compensation models have created systemic barriers for underrepresented lawyers. By making their compensation models more transparent and equitable, law firms will foster an environment in which all people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community can thrive. It's past time for companies to use their purchasing power to bring about this much needed change," says Michele Coleman Mayes, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at the New York Public Library and retired General Counsel for the Allstate Corporation.
To read the comprehensive Bodhala report visit: https://www.bodhala.com/diversity-in-the-law/
Bodhala is a data analytics and technology company founded to provide in-house counsel and their legal operations teams with spend optimization solutions and real-time market intelligence. Bodhala's platform applies data science, machine-learning, and AI to help companies find the right lawyer, at the right firm, for the right price.
Bodhala enables in-house legal departments to measure timekeeper diversity assigned to their matters. The platform also offers tools to incorporate diversity metrics into their Rate Card and Matter RFPs. Combined, Bodhala offers the most diverse arsenal for corporate legal departments to measure and drive meaningful progress at their preferred law firms.
The company, headquartered in New York and founded by attorneys, serves clients across the Fortune 500 and critical services economy industries. Bodhala was named by the Financial Times as One to Watch in Legal Technology. For more information, visit bodhala.com.