Corp. Counsel, June 2010 at 18, contains an interview of Susan Blount, the general counsel of Prudential. She explains the nascent Inclusion Initiative. The “11 large corporations that have signed on have committed to spending a portion of their legal budgets with women- and minority-owned law firms.” The Inclusion pool has reached $30 million so far. With administrative assistance from the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), the launch group includes Accenture, American Airlines, Comcast, DuPont, Exelon, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, and Microsoft.
If the members of the Inclusion Initiative focus on law firms as a whole, the effort will cut against convergence initiatives since they will need to hire a wider set of firms. It will also make retention decisions somewhat more time-consuming and even contentious. Then too, issues with the definition of a qualifying firm will crop up. But the goal of diversification and fairness is admirable. Further, given the smallness of most minority-owned firms, costs will likely decline.