Diversity asked about in RFPs was virtually irrelevant in selection decisions six years ago

The 2011 supplement to Bob Haig’s Successful Partnering Between Inside and Outside Counsel adds a footnote to Section 4 on Selection of Outside Counsel. It cites a 2004 study of in-house counsel by Kirkpatrick & Lockart (now K&L Gates). Regarding diversity in the firms they considered for selection, “the responding corporate counsel acknowledged that diversity was not a key factor when choosing outside counsel, with less than one-half of one percent of their decisions being explained by a firm’s diversity.” The footnote says the data is available at http://www.kl.com/TOM__brochure__2004/media/topofmind__all.pdf but that link does not work. I found a reference to the survey on the firm’s website. It summarized the findings: “In fact, racial diversity ranked below effective communication, working as a team, hourly rates, and working with enjoyable attorneys.

A survey by the same firm two years later seemed to find somewhat more influence (See my post of Jan. 30, 2006: three categories of diversity asked about, and rankings.). It appears still true, from my consulting projects, that diversity efforts and results, along with pro bono involvement, are asked about by law departments far more than the answers influence selections.

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