Why The Legal Industry Must Embrace Diversity, Technology, and Collaboration

Shutterstock

It’s time the legal industry pays more than lip service to embracing diversity, technology, and collaboration with other professionals. We live in a diverse society; an interconnected, interdependent world; and a period when the rule of law, the lynchpin of democracies, is under siege domestically and globally. A commitment to diversity; technology to promote access to affordable legal services; and lawyer collaboration with other professionals is crucial to the profession’s ability to defend and uphold the rule of law as well as to deliver legal services more efficiently, effectively, and to a wider audience.

Why Diversity Matters—Especially Now

 Lawyers serve two clients: those that retain them and society. This is not a conflict; it is the essence of what it means to be a lawyer. Lawyers pledge to preserve the rule of law; to uphold the Constitution; and to practice in an ethical manner. Incoming ABA Bar President Hilarie Bass, put it succinctly: ‘Our democracy functions best when there are lawyers prepared to protect it.’ This begs the question: how can a non-diverse legal profession instill confidence in and protect the diverse population it serves?

Diversity is a cultural commitment, not a numbers game. It is often confused with affirmative action which, though related, is policy driven—a means to the end of promoting diversity. Diversity is a cultural tenet, a commitment to inclusion, tolerance, equality, and respect. It is at the core of the way a group defines itself and emblematic of the values by which it defines itself and promotes. And while it is laudable to create diverse law school classes and  to hire candidates from different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and sexual preferences, it is equally important that, once they are offered admission, diverse candidates are afforded an equal opportunity to succeed. In the legal context, diversity requires an ongoing societal/organizational resolve to identify high-potential diverse candidates; to provide them with mentorship; to encourage and enable them to acquire a sound understanding of the client’s business, objectives, and risk tolerance; provide them client interaction; and meaningful periodic review intended to drive the individual’s success within and outside the organization. Mentorship takes time and commitment—from mentor and mentee. That is largely lacking in the legal industry, especially among large law firms.

The industry must commit to diversity not only because it is morally right but also because it is a pragmatic imperative. Diversity is good for business and a salve for society at a time when racial, national origin, religious, and sexual differences are polarized by the noxious political climate. A diverse legal ecosystem—law schools, firms, service providers, consumers–is particularly important when, as now, our democracy is under assault; access to justice is denied for a majority of the citizenry; equal justice is a myth; and the rule of law is under siege. An element of law’s diversity must be its inclusion not only of diverse lawyers but also those that collaborate with them– technologists, process/project managers, entrepreneurs, educators, buyers and sellers.

 Technology

“>

Shutterstock

It’s time the legal industry pays more than lip service to embracing diversity, technology, and collaboration with other professionals. We live in a diverse society; an interconnected, interdependent world; and a period when the rule of law, the lynchpin of democracies, is under siege domestically and globally. A commitment to diversity; technology to promote access to affordable legal services; and lawyer collaboration with other professionals is crucial to the profession’s ability to defend and uphold the rule of law as well as to deliver legal services more efficiently, effectively, and to a wider audience.

Why Diversity Matters—Especially Now

 Lawyers serve two clients: those that retain them and society. This is not a conflict; it is the essence of what it means to be a lawyer. Lawyers pledge to preserve the rule of law; to uphold the Constitution; and to practice in an ethical manner. Incoming ABA Bar President Hilarie Bass, put it succinctly: ‘Our democracy functions best when there are lawyers prepared to protect it.’ This begs the question: how can a non-diverse legal profession instill confidence in and protect the diverse population it serves?

Diversity is a cultural commitment, not a numbers game. It is often confused with affirmative action which, though related, is policy driven—a means to the end of promoting diversity. Diversity is a cultural tenet, a commitment to inclusion, tolerance, equality, and respect. It is at the core of the way a group defines itself and emblematic of the values by which it defines itself and promotes. And while it is laudable to create diverse law school classes and  to hire candidates from different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and sexual preferences, it is equally important that, once they are offered admission, diverse candidates are afforded an equal opportunity to succeed. In the legal context, diversity requires an ongoing societal/organizational resolve to identify high-potential diverse candidates; to provide them with mentorship; to encourage and enable them to acquire a sound understanding of the client’s business, objectives, and risk tolerance; provide them client interaction; and meaningful periodic review intended to drive the individual’s success within and outside the organization. Mentorship takes time and commitment—from mentor and mentee. That is largely lacking in the legal industry, especially among large law firms.

The industry must commit to diversity not only because it is morally right but also because it is a pragmatic imperative. Diversity is good for business and a salve for society at a time when racial, national origin, religious, and sexual differences are polarized by the noxious political climate. A diverse legal ecosystem—law schools, firms, service providers, consumers–is particularly important when, as now, our democracy is under assault; access to justice is denied for a majority of the citizenry; equal justice is a myth; and the rule of law is under siege. An element of law’s diversity must be its inclusion not only of diverse lawyers but also those that collaborate with them– technologists, process/project managers, entrepreneurs, educators, buyers and sellers.

 Technology

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

About the author

Related