Tag Archives: mentorship

Promoting Diversity in Law: A Strategic Guide for Navigating the Post-Affirmative Action Legal Landscape

Impact of the Supreme Court’s Decision on Diversity in the Legal Profession

The Supreme Court’s decision ending race-conscious affirmative action in college and law school admissions has sparked a reevaluation of efforts to promote racial diversity, not just on campuses but also in the workplace more broadly. In the legal profession, as in many industries, the Court’s stand puts in jeopardy the progress that has been made over the last several years. This moment challenges those of us who believe in the value of a diverse profession to think creatively about opportunities to redouble our efforts.

The Role of Legal Recruiters in Upholding Diversity in Law Firms

Legal recruiters have a role to play—consistent with the law—in mitigating the impact of what we expect will be a reduced number of diverse graduates from the nation’s most prestigious law schools. We have an obligation to press ahead on our long-held vision of a profession that better reflects the diversity of our country.

Recent Progress in Racial Diversity Within U.S. Law Firms

In recent years, law firms have made undeniable progress on racial diversity, even if the pace of change has been slower than we would wish.  NALP’s Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms found that in 2022, the representation of Black associates at major U.S. law firms grew by half a percentage point, to 5.8%, and the proportion of Black summer associates rose by 0.7 percentage point, to 11.9%. Moreover, for the first time, women of color achieved representation of greater than 10% among lawyers overall.

The Influence of the Mansfield Rule on Law Firm Diversity

This progress is partly attributable to active efforts like the Mansfield Rule. Modeled after the National Football League’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview diverse candidates as part of the head coach hiring process, the Mansfield Rule presses law firms to consider “a broad slate of talent – including at least 30% underrepresented lawyers – for leadership positions.” Firms committed to that standard can become Mansfield Certified. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Mansfield and similar efforts will persist in their current form following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Challenges to Racial Diversification in Law Firm Partnership Ranks

Disappointingly, among the law firm partnership ranks, racial diversification has appeared to be stagnating even without the added burden of the Supreme Court’s new holding. NALP found no statistically significant growth in equity partners of color in 2022. The top echelon of the profession remains its least diverse segment.

Strategic Steps Legal Recruiters Can Take Amid Reduced Law School Diversity

So how can search firms like Lateral Link continue to drive progress, even if law school classes become less racially diverse in the immediate future?

Deepening Partnerships with Law Schools and Alumni Associations

First, we can deepen our partnership with law schools and their alumni associations, curating creative ways to support diverse students in their efforts to navigate the legal recruiting landscape successfully. Our goal should be to equip the diverse students who are admitted—even if the numbers are smaller—with sufficient knowledge and inspiration to make it to elite law firms.

The Power of Personal Interaction and Mentorship Programs

There are countless opportunities to connect with and educate students, according to Amy Langan, Lateral Link Professional Development and Law School Relations Manager. “In our experience, student affinity groups are highly receptive to hosting speakers from the recruiting sector.” Examples of potential presentation topics include interviewing tips, how to choose a practice area, market-specific updates, and how to pursue a non-traditional legal career. As legal recruiters, we have a birds-eye view of the legal industry nationwide, and we can share with law students our insights about job opportunities in the cities that they are targeting for summer and permanent associate positions. Amy notes that “we can visit HBCU law schools, and we can sponsor or attend job fairs known to attract diverse students. Showing up and being visibly supportive makes a real difference.”

Tailored Mentorship: Fostering Success for Diverse Students

In addition to giving presentations in larger settings, recruiters can help facilitate more tailored one-on-one mentorship, for example by helping to pair lawyers and legal recruiters with students who are members of diverse affinity groups. The Orange County Korean American Bar Association (OCKABA) offers an example. Lateral Link Senior Director Christina Ahn co-chairs the OCKABA Mentorship & Outreach Committee, which pairs law student mentees with attorney mentors based on the student’s interest and the attorney’s practice area. Attorney mentors regularly offer personalized insight into how to advance successfully in a law firm setting.

Collaborative Partnerships: Supporting Racially Diverse Attorneys

Second, legal recruiters can partner with law firms and State Bar Associations to jointly assist racially diverse attorneys to thrive at all levels of seniority, in a manner that remains compliant with the Court’s ruling. Recruiters bring substantial intelligence to the table, with knowledge both of what law firms are looking for in potential lateral hires and of the individual needs of diverse candidates. An example of a forum where this knowledge can make a major contribution is the Texas Minority Counsel Program—the premier client development, networking, and CLE event for Texas attorneys. Open to everyone, the program’s mission is to increase opportunities for diverse attorneys, and to expose organizations to the legal talent of diverse attorneys in Texas.

Curating Initiatives for Diversity in Law Firm Partnerships

In the particular context of law firm partner opportunities, legal recruiters can work with firms to curate new initiatives that comply with the Supreme Court decision and, at the same time, ensure that partners of color can thrive in the law firm platform. Specifically, legal recruiters can work closely with law firms to help them prioritize diversity in partner recruiting and retention.

The Importance of Intentionality in Diversity Efforts

Now more than ever, legal recruiters have to be intentional about being part of the solution. Just hoping for the best will not create diverse and inclusive legal communities. Being intentional may at times entail discussing sensitive issues that impact diverse partners disproportionately, such as origination credit formulas, lateral partner integration, and diversity, equality, and inclusive initiatives at each of the firms we work with. Sometimes these conversations may generate a measure of discomfort or resistance, but recruiters need to use our access to advance the discussion of these essential matters.

Business Development for Women Lawyers: Strategies for Success

The current legal landscape—like the economy as a whole—is uncertain. 2022 was a moderately down year for major law firms, as compared to the industry’s remarkable 2021 boom. With firms bracing for what could be a challenging period, adopting effective approaches to business development will be more critical than ever.

This is especially true for women lawyers. Even in smoother economic climates, women confront particular challenges in business development and career advancement in the legal industry. In many practice groups, there remains a lack of female role models for successful business development. Strategies that have traditionally worked well for many male partners don’t always feel authentic and comfortable for women attorneys. More broadly, women often find that they must advocate more actively to receive origination credit and to receive fair consideration for equity partnership and for practice and office leadership positions.

For women associates and counsels, learning how successful women partners approach business development can be eye-opening. The transition to being responsible for developing business is a hard one to navigate for any lawyer. After years of focusing on the practice of law and becoming a highly competent attorney, it can be jarring to confront the reality that legal skills are no longer enough. The discomfort can be compounded for associates and counsels whose practice group leadership is heavily male. Mentorship from female leaders in the profession—including those outside your firm—is often invaluable. When it comes to developing business, there is no one-size-fits-all method for success. Exposing yourself to a diversity of styles and strategies can help you identify and pursue an approach that resonates with your personality, practice, and goals.

For women partners, the business development learning curve doesn’t stop. You have already received a vote of confidence in your ability to bring in clients, but delivering on that potential by growing a solid book of business requires targeted strategies. Business development success is key to increasing compensation, making the jump from non-equity to equity partner, or executing a successful lateral move to a more desirable firm.

On May 24, a virtual event organized by the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) Business Law Section will offer actionable advice for women lawyers interested in successful business development strategies. The program will address strategies for success for every woman lawyer: associate, counsel, junior partner, and senior partners leading groups. The moderated discussion will feature three senior legal recruiters, including Susan Agopian and Gloria Sandrino of Lateral Link.

Themes that Susan and Gloria will emphasize include the need for women lawyers to be intentional about business development and the fact that “business development” is “client development”—one client at a time. Focusing on individual clients is a must in today’s legal industry.

After decades of working closely with partners and associates at the highest levels of the profession, Susan and Gloria are well-attuned to what it takes to develop business as a lawyer. Business development planning is central to the partner lateral recruiting process, with candidates expected to present a compelling case for how they will bring clients to their new firm. So Susan and Gloria regularly discuss business development strategy in detail with successful partners—including many women—at a wide spectrum of top law firms. In addition, Gloria brings her perspective of a decade spent practicing M&A in NYC and Miami.

If you are interested in joining the conversation on May 24, please get your tickets here. Note that the session is free for WLALA members!

7 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Law Firm: A Comprehensive Guide for Legal Professionals

The legal industry has evolved significantly, and selecting the right law firm requires careful consideration of various factors. In this comprehensive guide, we present an updated and detailed analysis of the 7 key factors to consider when choosing a law firm in the competitive legal and recruiting market, supported by relevant data and statistics to help you make an informed decision.

Firm Size: Assessing the Work Environment and Opportunities

When evaluating a law firm, size plays a crucial role in determining the work environment and available opportunities. Large firms (Am Law 100 and 200) typically offer a broader range of practice areas and represent 81% of total revenue generated by the top 200 law firms in the U.S. However, they may also involve longer hours, with over 60% of associates working more than 50 hours per week on average. Smaller boutique firms and regional firms may provide a more intimate work setting, focused expertise, and better work-life balance. Consider your preferences and evaluate which size firm aligns with your legal career goals.

Practice Area Focus: Identifying Firms with Strong Practice Groups

Certain practice areas are experiencing significant growth. For instance, the global data privacy market is expected to reach $158.2 billion by 2027, and intellectual property filings have increased by 10.2% in recent years. It’s crucial to identify law firms with strong practice groups in your area of interest, as this can impact your professional development and long-term career prospects. Research each firm’s reputation and track record within your chosen practice area to make an informed decision.

Firm Culture: The Importance of Diversity, Inclusion, and Work-Life Balance

Firm culture has become increasingly important, as law firms recognize the value of a healthy work environment in retaining top legal talent. According to a survey by the American Bar Association, firms with diverse and inclusive environments report higher retention rates and overall satisfaction. Investigate the firm’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and work-life balance, and assess whether the firm’s values align with your own. Speak to current and former employees and attend legal networking events to get a feel for the company culture.

Compensation and Benefits: Evaluating Competitive Law Firm Salaries

Compensation remains a critical factor when choosing a law firm. The median salary for first-year associates at large law firms is $190,000, while smaller firms may provide competitive compensation based on their niche expertise or regional market strength. In addition to base salary, evaluate benefits such as bonuses, retirement plans, and health insurance to make a comprehensive assessment of the firm’s compensation structure.

Location: The Impact of Geographical Presence on Your Legal Career

Remote work has become increasingly common in the legal industry, with 74% of law firms offering flexible work arrangements. However, a firm’s geographical presence still plays a significant role in shaping your career. Major legal markets provide access to prestigious clients and high-profile cases, while smaller markets may offer lower costs of living and a better work-life balance. Consider your personal preferences and long-term goals when evaluating a law firm’s location.

Professional Development and Mentorship: The Key to a Successful Legal Career

Law firms that prioritize professional development and mentorship tend to have higher retention rates and more satisfied attorneys. A study by the NALP Foundation found that firms with structured mentoring programs have a 20% higher associate retention rate after three years. Investigate each firm’s commitment to training, continuing education, and mentorship programs to ensure a supportive environment for building a successful legal career.

Partnership Prospects: Assessing Your Long-Term Career Trajectory

As you advance in your legal career, partnership prospects may become increasingly important. According to the American Lawyer, the average time to partnership at large law firms is approximately 8.2 years. Assess each firm’s partnership track, including the average time to partnership, the firm’s expectations for partner candidates, and the overall partnership structure (e.g., equity vs. non-equity partners). A transparent and well-articulated partnership track can impact your long-term career trajectory and financial success.

In Conclusion: Navigating the Legal Landscape with Confidence

Choosing the right law firm requires thorough research and consideration of various factors. By evaluating firm size, practice area focus, firm culture, compensation and benefits, location, professional development and mentorship, and partnership prospects, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your personal and professional goals. The legal landscape is continuously evolving, and understanding the nuances of each firm can help you navigate your career more effectively.

As you embark on your legal career, remember that selecting the right law firm is just the first step. Staying up-to-date with industry trends and developments, networking, and continually reassessing your goals will help you remain adaptable and successful in the ever-changing legal market. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from industry experts and peers, as they can provide valuable insights and support throughout your career journey. If you’re looking for personalized assistance in finding the right law firm or making a strategic career move, consider reaching out to Lateral Link. Our experienced legal recruiters can provide invaluable advice and connect you with opportunities that align with your professional aspirations. Visit Lateral Link’s website today to learn more about how we can support you in navigating the complex legal landscape and propel your career forward.