The law firm diversity survey 2018
LOOKING down this list, it would be hard to conclude that a certain type of firm does best at diversity: we have global bruisers like Debevoise and Clifford Chance; Waller, a niche healthcare specialist in Tennessee; finance leaders like Weil and Fried, Frank; techy firms like MoFo and Mintz Levin. Explore each of these firms, though, and you'll find significant efforts to overcome all the barriers to equality. Our leader for two years in a row, Debevoise, typifies many firms in this list: the firm is famous for its considerate, collaborative working culture, so diversity efforts really are a natural product of that. LGBT leader Jenner & Block (11th) operates on a similar model: "it’s about creating a culture where diversity is normalized." That Jenner tops the table for pro bono is no coincidence.
Clifford Chance (9th) and MoFo (6th) are among the firms that have adopted the Mansfield Rule, meaning at least one candidate considered for a leadership role must be a woman. Clifford Chance's London HQ is among the most transparent of the UK firms on tracking diversity. The firm's associates were impressed with their 200-lawyer New York office's breadth of diversity committees, “with a bunch of sub-committes, e.g. LGBT, African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic groups.”
Three firms stand out for making it into the top ten for the second year in a row: Proskauer, Weil and Debevoise. “Over the last five years the firm has done a lot to incentivize women to stay,” a female associate at Proskauer (3rd) told us. This includes introducing a mentoring program, shared parental leave, and reduced work schedules. Debevoise's associates highlighted “all sorts of initiatives across the firm” including diversity mentoring and a “really fantastic” Women’s Resources Group.
“The diversity initiatives have improved markedly over the past couple of years,” associates at second-placed Waller told us, hinting at why the firm has gone up to 2nd place this year. Kramer Levin (4th), has historic ties to LGBT causes, and like many in this group, the firm's overall collaborative, empathetic vibe has made diversity initiatives a no-brainer. However, their associates were echoing hundreds of others across the market when they told us that “there's room for improvement” on diversity, noting that “the partnership is heavily white and male.” For the record, we hear this at every single firm. So even at the most progessive, campaigning, BigLaw firms in this list – all still have a long way to go before they are truly representative and inclusive.
We asked associates to rate their firm on its efforts to recruit diverse associates, inclusivity training, diversity mentoring, diverse staffing, promoting of diverse attorneys, and how hard it is to make partner if you start a family. The firms listed are those demonstrating strong performance.