Big business plans to use more minority- and women-owned law firms

July 5, 2012
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If a commitment by large corporations across the country comes to fruition, law firms owned by minorities and women will see a lot more business this year.

Members of an Inclusion Initiative – which is administered by the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms – announced this month they want to increase the commitment they’ve made to hire outside law firms owned by minorities and women so that more than $139 million is spent in 2012.

There are 25 members of this initiative, which includes AT&T, Coca Cola, Microsoft, and Prudential.  

If the 25 companies meet their goal, the businesses will have spent more than $250 million with minority- and women-owned law firms in three years. The initiative was launched in 2010. It came about following studies that found a marked drop since the late 1980s in the number of minority-owned law firms serving corporate America.

The companies use their normal processes for selecting outside counsel but take additional measures to ensure that diverse law firms are among the pool of firms considered for the work and actively seek out minority- and women-owned firms, according to NAMWOLF’s website.

Prudential Senior Vice President and General Counsel Susan Blount said in a release, “Inclusion is a basic social justice issue. Women are 50 percent of law school graduates but they have a higher rate of attrition and failure to make partner than their male counterparts. The situation is even more profound for African-American and other minority attorneys.”

Even though NAMWOLF administers the initiative and works with the companies to identify best practices to maximize relationships with minority- and women-owned firms, the law firms the companies use do not have to be NAMWOLF firms.

Four firms in Indiana belong to NAMWOLF, including Indianapolis firms DeLaney & DeLaney LLC and Smith Fisher Maas & Howard P.C.
 

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  • Good for goose, good for gander
    What if a corporation stated that it was going to prefer white male lawyers, since they are more traditional?
  • sure, sure
    Nearly all publically traded corporations care nothing for social justice. This hiring of "more women and minorities" is window dressing. Instead of filling quotas - which is tantamount to paying a bribe to certain interest groups not to bother them-- they might consider what in their business practices actually promotes and advances, or retards, social justice. In some cases like the big zombie banks probably the only thing they could do to advance social justice would be to shut down their operations and go away, permanently.

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