Why Your Law Firm or Legal Department Needs Diversity

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court wrote that diverse law school classes are necessary because “the skills needed in today’s increasingly global marketplace can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas, and viewpoints.”  But the pursuit of diversity is not just relevant to law schools.  Law firms and legal departments also need diverse teams.  This installment will explain why your teams needs diversity.


Reason 1: Your Employees Want Diversity

Your law firm and legal department needs diversity to attract and keep employees.  Recent research indicates that 67 percent of applicants consider a company’s diversity when deciding between job offers.  As such, firms that lack diversity will find it difficult to attract top talent.

Diversity not only helps firms attract talent, it helps firms keep workers.    Several studies have found that workers in diverse environments are happier.  As a result, they are less likely to leave.  Thus, diversity helps firms avoid the expense of recruiting new candidates.


Reason 2: Diversity Creates Better Outcomes

Your law firm needs diversity to produce a better, more timely work product.  Diversity’s most significant advantage is its positive effects on worker productivity and accuracy.  Studies have consistently found that diverse teams outperform homogenous teams in problem-solving exercises.   Moreover, they make better business decisions in less time.

Law firms and legal recruiters should take particular note of a study on how racial diversity impacted mock jurors’ decisions.  Teams of six jurors – some diverse, some all-white – were asked to decide a defendant’s guilt.  On the racially diverse teams, participants cited more facts and were less prone to errors.  Because the practice of law relies heavily on interpreting and evaluating facts, building teams that excel at those skills are essential.


Reason 3: Your Legal Clients Want Diversity

Your law firm needs diversity because clients demand it.  Bloomberg News reports that just over one-third of major corporations consider diversity when hiring outside representation.  Moreover, the American Bar Association reports that some major companies that hire non-diverse firms have begun to “holdback” a percentage of the billed amount until their diversity demands are met.  Either way, non-diverse firms stand to lose major clients.

And while non-diverse firms are at a disadvantage now, their difficulties will only grow with time.  America becomes more diverse each year.  By 2045, whites will no longer by the largest racial group in America.  Moreover, according to data from Pew Research Center, the majority of American immigrants are not white. When this knowledge is combined with the fact that women of color are starting businesses at a record-breaking pace, firms of all sizes and types must work now to develop a diverse workforce that has the ability to serve a growing market of clients.


Reason 4:  Diversity Makes Financial Sense

Your law firm needs diversity because it helps the bottom line.  Diversity is not just some “feel-good” buzzword.  It actually helps firms make money.  An international study found that companies with diverse employees out-earned their non-diverse competitors by 35 percent.  Clearly, diversity works.

Law firms can also take part in the diversity windfall.  Recent studies show that corporate clients spent 25 percent more with diverse law firms.


A successful law firm will build a diverse team that can communicate and work effectively with clients of all backgrounds.  Firms that begin building diverse teams now will benefit today and far into the future.  Law firms that want to enhance their diversity profile can use the African American Attorney Network.  Posting jobs on the Network will help your firm recruit qualified and diverse legal talent.