Are law firms ever really interested in promoting diversity?
The Minority Corporate Council Association (MCCA) created the Firm Affiliate Network (FAN) to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
This morning, MCCA released its list of law firms that are part of FAN to encourage more to join up.
To qualify, law firms must submit an application and state its commitment to 10 Basic Principles, which MCCA research determined to be hallmarks to advancing diversity. nIn Addition to agreeing to abide by MCCA’s 10 Basic Principles, the annual renewal process will require law firms to share with MCCA the efforts the firm has undertaken in furtherance of the 10 Basic Principles. Sounds idealistic and kudos to them.
My reaction is meh.
This may not apply to the smaller or mid-sized firms or the minority and women-owned ones, but many big firms have diversity recruitment programs that are meaningless for the most part.
Often times, they’d go as far as hire a resident minority to head a diversity office but often times whoever is in that role has little to no no clout. Their efforts are not necessarily top priority. They are essentially just PR place holders. Many “minority” law students and recent hires don’t regard them as much and there are some people who harbor disdain because they think the person in this role is enabling an institution to perpetuate a fraud.
In many cases, many big firms will go to Howard University to recruit and bring on a bunch of black lawyers, hire them as first years and fire them within the first 4 years. Mentorship options are usually limited. Opportunity to client interaction is minimal. Some of the partners and other associates view some of these hires as Affirmative Action hires no matter how high the GPA, membership in law review or whatever qualification would earn them a coveted elite spot in one of these prestigious firms.
This was the case for Howard University Law School’s class of 1998 -1999. I’d dare say I know personally of a substantial amount of those who landed cushy big law firm jobs getting fired before getting to mid-term level.
It seems like one big rouge if you ask me.