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GCs pen open letter to law firms

Michelle Fang

More than 170 general counsels and chief legal officers have thrown their support behind an open letter to law firm partners pushing for greater diversity in corporate partnerships.

‘GCs for Law Firm Diversity’ has penned the letter, and said it represents public and private companies, start-ups, and non-profit organisations.

The letter expressed an expectation that “the outside law firms we retain reflect the diversity of the legal community and the companies and the customers we serve”.

It applauded firms that have been working hard to hire, retain, and promote to partnership ‘outstanding and highly accomplished lawyers’ who are diverse in race, colour, age gender, gender orientation, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, and without regard to disabilities.

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“We believe that a diverse workplace is evidence that you have created an environment where all employees feel they belong and are accepted,” the letter read.

At the same time, GCs for Law Firm Diversity said it is disappointed to see “that many law firms continue to promote partner classes that in no way reflect the demographic of entering associate classes.”

“Partnership classes remain largely male and largely white.”

“We are left to wonder if you and your partners value diversity enough to put into place programs to develop, promote, and retain talented and diverse attorneys,” the letter continued.

“It is not enough to commit your firm to diversity during the recruiting process or to hire a diversity and inclusion officer and expect that person can effect change without the full commitment of each member of the firm,” it re-iterated.

“The reality is that you must consciously and personally invest in diversity and inclusion and interview, hire, mentor, support, sponsor, and promote talented attorneys who don’t always look like you or share your background.”

One of the authors behind the letter, Michelle Fang, Turo’s chief legal officer, said the letter brings together general counsels and chief legal officers “to express our desire to see more consistent partnership announcements that reflect the diversity of the legal profession”.

“We hope you will join is in a shared and authentic commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Ms Fang continued in a LinkedIn post.

Signees to the letter included the general counsel for Mozilla Corporation, Amy Keating, Arcadia Power’s SVP and general counsel Kate Henningsen, S&P Global Ratings’ chief legal officer Nancy Gardner, TED Conferences’ general counsel Nishat Ruiter, Lyft’s general counsel Kristin Sverchek, US News & World Report’s strategic development vice president and general counsel Peter Dwoskin, Getty Images’ general counsel Yoko Miyashita, and the vice president and general counsel of Toshiba America Electronic Components’ vice president and general counsel Suzy M. Lee.

Interested in the issues shaping the in-house legal landscape? Don’t miss your chance to hear from local and global in-house legal powerhouses at the 2019 Corporate Counsel Summit

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