It’s hard to deny that law is among the least diverse of all professions. In the context of solo and small firm practice, we do not find diversity committees, mentorship programs, sensitivity training, pipeline initiatives, affinity groups, and all the means by which Biglaw firms signal their commitment to diversity promotion. However, there are countless small law firms that have been started by and/or managed by women and diverse attorneys whose achievements are largely unrecognized by the ABA and the industry generally. Many believe that minority-owned and women-owned firms are a crucial way to create an open and inclusive environment that will allow their practices to reach their full potential.
In order to better understand the solo and small firm community’s perspective on diversity and inclusion, we fielded a survey asking solos and small firm practitioners to share their insight on the following topics (among others):
- Whether all law firms, regardless of size, should consider issues of diversity in recruiting, hiring, and staffing decisions.
- Whether diversity is a competitive advantage for small law firms
- Is it inappropriate for potential clients to consider a small law firm’s diversity when making hiring decisions?
Our findings reveal, if not exactly a consensus, very widespread sentiment in favor of the ideas that law firms should consider a diverse candidate pool in recruiting and that diversity is a competitive advantage for small law firms. To give some color and context to our survey findings, our report includes dozens of comments from respondents, which are by turns insightful and encouraging, as well as skeptical and provocative.
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