Pressure is mounting for legal firms employed by influential corporations like Microsoft and Uber. The companies are demanding the firms to employ more Black attorneys, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
A breakdown of the diversity of hired lawyers at the firms will be required by companies like Intel, Uber, and Microsoft. But it doesn’t stop there, the firms will also be required to report what type of cases the lawyers from underrepresented groups get.
Shannon Klinger, the chief legal officer of pharmaceutical corporation Novartis AG told The Hill, “What gets done is what gets rewarded.” Novartis AG reports they will withhold up to 15 percent of legal fees from law firms who do not meet the diversity baseline requirements.
Microsoft incentivizes diversity at their employed law firm by providing three percent of their fees as a bonus for the firm.
According to data from the National Association for Law Placement, approximately two percent of partners at law firms in the United States are Black. They also report that less than five percent of staff attorneys are Black.
“The consistent challenge is attempting to rise through the ranks based on knowledge, experience and ability rather than being minimized, diminished or judged based on the color of our skin,” Duvol Thompson said in a statement. Thompson, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP recently organized a survey of 60 Black male lawyers to get a better picture of their experiences.
He said, “You’ll see the same associate staffed on all the great cases and think, ‘Why am I not getting those same opportunities?’”
This financially-incentivized diversity initiative comes as a tangible move towards dismantling systemic racism and discrimination demanded by social movements like Black Lives Matter.
Photo: Getty Images