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Minority GCs’ new benchmark tool to “redefine” law firms’ DEI commitments
13/10/2021
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General counsel from some of the largest multinational employers have pledged their support for a new scorecard measuring the effectiveness of law firms’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

A total of 27 in-house lawyers from the likes of Microsoft, General Motors, Nike, and Nokia will now ask their external counsel to use the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s (MCCA) new DEI ranking system.

Three years in the making, and benefiting from the data of more than 200 law firms, the scorecard assesses legal businesses along four key categories: demographics, recruitment, retention and attrition, and promotion for women and diverse groups, particularly those from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The scorecard divides ranked firms into five groups based on size: up to 50 lawyers; 51-100 lawyers; 101-250 lawyers; 251-500 lawyers; and more than 501 lawyers.

Firms in the largest category with leading employment law practices include Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Littler Mendelson, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Jackson Lewis, and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart.

“Knowledge is power, and this tool provides us with the data to understand each firm’s journey on diversity, culture, and equity – which is the first step to speeding up that journey,” said Jean Lee, MCCA president and CEO.

“Ultimately, that’s how our profession advances: not through soaring rhetoric or empty promises, but through accountability and concrete action.”

Anne Robinson, general counsel of investment firm Vanguard, added: “The scorecard has the potential to redefine diversity in the legal profession, by setting measurable industry benchmarks for firms of all sizes – and letting anybody, anywhere compare firms before making their hiring decisions.”

The scorecard, which follows the MCCA’s annual diversity survey, comes as general counsel increasingly look for a transparent industry benchmark to assess DEI metrics in some of the world’s largest firms.

Wanji Walcott, chief legal officer at Discover Financial Services, said the launch of the scorecard marked an inflection point for the legal profession. “As the general counsel of a Fortune 500 company, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hoped for an industry standard to measure my outside counsels’ diversity efforts,” he said.

“[The] MCCA’s scorecard is that standard and meets the moment in this new era of investor focus on ESG goals. As clients, we have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to use this tool to demand diversity from those that want our business.”

The scorecard precedes the October release of MCCA’s law firm diversity database, an online tool that will allow firms to measure their performance against industry-wide benchmarks, as well as the 18th edition of the group’s law firm diversity survey report.