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High hurdles for law departments that want to succeed with diversity

An article, from InsideCounsel, Oct. 2006 at 56, urges law departments to create “formal, written policies and set clear goals for improving internal demographics, time frames for achieving those goals and uniform methods through which to pursue those objectives.” Admirable, impossible to object to, but the same kind of desiderata could be said for every initiative thought to be important by a law department.

The survey responses (at 60) show that 46 percent of the in-house lawyers who responded said their legal department does not have a written policy on hiring diverse outside counsel or recruiting, retaining and promoting diverse lawyers. Almost one out of four of the respondents did not know whether their department has such a policy — which means if there is a policy it is overlooked or ineffectual.

Advocates of diversity push for law departments to go far beyond formal policies; top management must spread the message and “you have to tie the top people’s bonuses and compensation to achieving certain goals — otherwise there’s very little motivation.” Once more, the cash prod could buttress any management initiative.

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