The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are just the latest manifestation of profound injustice in our society. They have given rise to an urgent conversation about how to address longstanding, systemic inequality in our nation.
Law firms have responded in a forceful manner by donating millions of dollars to support organizations that are battling inequity in the trenches. While we applaud their efforts, we believe that more needs to be done.
Law firms must actively increase their commitment to diversity and inclusion. With COVID-19 threatening the financial health of many law firms and in-house departments, we fear that, as was the case in the last economic downturn, diversity and inclusion initiatives will be the first to go as austerity measures are instituted.
We cannot let that happen. Equality, the rule of law, and justice are at the core of who we are and the industry that we serve.
We embrace the words of Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
At Lateral Link, we commit to working with our law firm and in-house clients to bring them talented and experienced lawyers of color, women lawyers, and LGBTQ+ lawyers. It is a commitment that we don’t take lightly. Many of us are former practicing lawyers, so we know firsthand the importance of diversity in law firms and in-house departments.
We commit to having difficult conversations with regard to diversity and inclusion, even when it is uncomfortable — especially when it is uncomfortable — and to deal with the issues head-on. For example, we need to know if your lateral partner integration plan takes diversity into account. We need to understand the relationship between your firm’s origination credit and partner compensation system. We need to hear where you may have fallen short on diversity in the past — as well your success stories regarding women and minority partners.
Our commitment to diversity reflects our longstanding commitment to the broader legal community. In 2015, our founder, Michael Allen, established the Lateral Link Scholarship Fund at his alma mater, Harvard Law School. Ten percent of the fees earned from Lateral Link’s placement of HLS alumni go into the fund, which supports scholarships at the Law School for financially disadvantaged students, many of them from diverse backgrounds.
In order to help law firms and in-house legal departments recruit the best diverse lawyers, recruiting firms must embrace diversity themselves.
Lateral Link fields one of the most diverse legal recruiting teams in the industry. Almost three-quarters of our recruiters are women, minorities, or LGBTQ+. Women of color hold leadership positions and sit on our Executive Committee. Here are just four of our diverse leaders at Lateral Link (who are black, black and Latina, Asian American, and Asian American and LGBTQ+, respectively):
Our Call to Action
If you would like to work with a legal recruiting firm that walks the walk as well as talks the talk on diversity and inclusion, please reach out to us. You can contact Monique Burt Williams for in-house searches, Gloria Sandrino for partner searches, and David Lat for associate searches. We are eager to work with you on recruiting superb, diverse attorneys into your law firm or corporate legal department.
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. This post is by Gloria Sandrino, Global Chair of Partner and Group Recruiting, and David Lat, Managing Director at Lateral Link.