Facebook, Latest Leading Co. to Demand Greater Diversity in Legal Services

We can’t like this enough so we thought we’d share it as well: Facebook is one of the latest well-known companies to make necessary strides in the area of diversity in law, apparently now requiring that women and ethnic minorities comprise at least 33 percent of outside legal teams working on its legal matters.

According to a New York Times article on this development,Numbers alone, however, are not enough, under a policy that went into effect on Saturday. Law firms must also show that they ‘actively identify and create clear and measurable leadership opportunities for women and minorities’ when they represent the company in litigation and other legal matters.” The article also referenced a similar MetLife legal diversity policy to be announced later this month. 

This is great news, but it is still only a start. More needs to be done–not only by other companies large and small, but by all stakeholders to the dispute resolution process. And not only with respect to law firms, but mediators and arbitrators as well.

As CPR President & CEO Noah Hanft noted in his March 20 New York Law Journal Article, “Making Diversity Happen in ADR: No More Lip Service,” there are key roles for just about everyone to play in this process:

In-House Counsel: You are the drivers here.  According to Hanft, “You need to say not only that diversity is important to you, but to show that it is.” Referenced in both the NYT and NYLJ articles, and under the innovative leadership of GC Kim Rivera, CPR member HP announced in February that it would actually withhold fees – a 10% “diversity holdback” with certain conditions – from law firms that failed to comply with diversity requirements. 

Law Firms: “Try to learn of neutrals that you have not used,” Hanft suggests here. “What would be the harm when sending out the typical law firm memo asking whether anyone knows a good mediator in a copyright case, to specifically ask about diverse neutrals in that space? Be brave enough to do what your clients have told you they expect you to do in your own firm.”

Other ADR organizations: In the NYLJ article, Hanft lists education, mentorship and recruitment as important items on his own organization’s To Do list. He concludes, “But, most important, we must utilize our very best efforts to include those diverse candidates on slates; remind decision-makers of the benefits of diversity on the quality of the decision-making process; and then actively encourage the selection of diverse candidates.”

In sum, and in order to for diversity in law and ADR to “go viral,” we all have a social role to play. Tell your friends.

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