Forensics: Diversity trends in the legal profession

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The legal profession has struggled to attract and promote women and minorities—with limited results. It’s time for a fresh approach.

Overview

Despite oft-stated intentions, the legal profession has struggled to attract and promote a diverse workforce. Whatever the reasons for the slow pace of progress—structural, sociological or economic—today the winds are shifting, and legal buyers are increasingly driving the conversation, demanding diverse engagement teams.

For law firms a serious and genuine commitment to diversity is no longer “window dressing”: it’s a matter of survival.

The need for more diversity in the legal profession

For at least the last decade, legal professionals have spoken of the need to bring more diversity into their ranks. And yet the legal profession—and law firms in particular—have struggled to significantly move the needle, especially at senior levels.

1. Source for 2008 data: American Bar Association, retrieved at https://www.americanbar.org/; Source for 2017 data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, retrieved at https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm
2. Minority Corporate Counsel Association and Vault Inc. 2017 Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey. Law       Firm Diversity Database (http://mcca.vault.com/).
3. ibid
4. Minority Corporate Counsel Association/Diversity and the Bar: MCCA’s 18th Annual General Counsel Survey, 2017. http://www.diversityandthebardigital.com/datb/winter_2017/MobilePagedReplica.action?pm=2&folio=8#

A diverse workforce drives economic growth

Finally, things do seem to be changing. We are at a point in our culture where issues of diversity and gender parity have become important drivers of our national conversation—and both law firms (who must serve their clients) and companies (who must serve their customers, while protecting their brand image) are placing renewed emphasis on diversity in their hiring practices. Businesses are realizing they need to adapt to our changing nation to remain competitive.

Contact us

Jennifer Beaudoin

Director, Forensic Services, PwC US

Katherine Frost

Client Relationship Director, Forensic Services, PwC US

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