American law students make diversity a recruiting priority

Doug Jasinski

It seems that law firm practice management advisor David Bilinsky has scooped the New York Times on this story. Recently David posted on his blog about an initiative of some law students in the United States that had set up a blog with a diversity scorecard for law firms. The project, dubbed “Building a Better Legal Profession” uses data provided by the firms themselves. As David so aptly summarized it – “These students are hitting law firms in the numbers.”
Lo and behold, yesterday there was a New York Times article on the project, which, needless to say, is the kind of PR that makes an impact.
Jumping to the Canadian context, there is no question in my mind that law students in this country are – as a cohort – equally supportive of workplace diversity, and that the associate recruiting wars here are scaling up to a level where it is going to be incumbent upon leading Canadian firms to examine their own diversity initiatives in the context of both student and client demand.
A year ago I wrote an article in the Lawyer’s Weekly on diversity issues, and pointed to pressure from the junior ranks as well as from larger corporate clients that are ahead of the firms themselves as being the drivers of change in this arena. At that time, I suggested five actions law firms concerned about this issue might consider for the year ahead. A year later, they still seem relevant and so I will repeat them here:
1. implement commitments to specific diversity goals and create tracking systems to measure progress;
2. prepare an up-to-date diversity statement for inclusion in RFP responses;
3. make diversity an element of your firm’s student and associate recruitment platform;
4. add a diversity profile to your firm’s Martindale listing; and
5. create a diversity section on your firm website.


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