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LegalNovember 05, 2021

ELM Amplify: Creating outside counsel diversity policies that make a real difference

ELM Amplify 2021, the ELM Solutions annual user conference, took place online from October 26 through 28. This event is available for on-demand viewing here, and we continue to highlight some of the sessions that were presented.

At ELM Solutions, we have the good fortune of working with clients who take new and innovative approaches to meet their goals. Diversity and inclusion is one area where some of the companies we work with have made impressive strides by thinking about new ways to meet these goals in a legal industry that has not always been successful in doing so.

Josh Underwood, ELM Solutions VP of Global Services, was joined by Maitane Arozena, Global Legal Solutions – Operations & Technology at Citi, and Mike Lordi, Head of Law Department Operations for Equitable, for our session entitled Diversity: No longer just a buzzword. They shared their success stories in order to help other legal professionals improve diversity and inclusion results with their own law firms.

The following are a few of the key takeaways from this session:

Diversity in the legal profession is increasing, but there is still work to be done. For example, from 2009 to 2019, the number of partners who are women has increased by 24%; the number of partners of color has gone up 55%; and the increase in partners who are women of color is 77%. However, there has only been a six percent increase in the number of female lawyers overall from 2010 to 2020.

Many firms expect and welcome diversity initiatives from clients. Law firms have become accustomed to collecting and providing diversity data on their attorneys. Although some firms may take longer to get the relevant data to clients, neither of our panelists has experienced push-back. Mike noted that Equitable was even contacted by firms that had heard about their program and wanted to be a part of it.

Ensure your policy reflects your priorities. For many companies, diversity, equity, and inclusion are very high priorities, and they want to ensure that the internal expectations are matched by their vendors. Citi embeds diversity clauses in their vendor agreements, ensuring firms know these are requirements upon which their payments and continued business depend. Equitable focuses beyond numbers and has a policy that ensures that more economic power is directed to attorneys of diverse backgrounds.

Use the right tools to track and measure results. Both Citi and Equitable use the Passport® diversity module. Maitane has found that getting and tracking the necessary data was one of Citi’s early challenges. Passport helps by tracking timekeeper-level detail, which the Citi team uses to run their diversity program based on utilization by practice area, region, etc. In implementing Passport, Equitable laid the groundwork that will enable year-over-year reporting and help drive improvement over time.

To learn more about these successful diversity programs, be sure to watch the on-demand session here. If you haven’t done so already, please register. Once you have registered, your email address is both your login and your password. Recorded sessions are available to watch in the Theater.

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