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Diversity and corporate decisions about which outside counsel to retain

A recent report states that “40% of the [103] $1 billion-plus companies considered diversity important in selecting outside counsel, 30% reported having had a dialogue with outside firms regarding diversity, and 16% had written diversity policies to which outside counsel were required to adhere.” Fulbright & Jaworski’s Second Annual Litigation Trends Survey at 21. (See my post of Sept. 4, 2005 on the unclear definition of “diversity.)

Doesn’t that mean that 60 percent of the largest companies disregard diversity when choosing counsel? Among US law departments, only 20 percent in that size category regard diversity as “very important” or “important” (Full report at 121). Further, how many factors are considered equally or more “important?” Doesn’t the question cry out what were the dialogues about that only one out of three big departments had with a firm (in the full report, the header says “dialogue with outside firm” during what time period)? And, what did the “written diversity policies” require of the firms? All these questions and underwhelming data, yet the report headlines “Diversity is Clearly a Growing Issue.”