Legal Industry Diversity And Inclusion Survey Reveals Implicit/Unconscious Bias Is Main Obstacle At Law Firms

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Survey results from the first Big Law Business Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report reveal that a substantial majority of law firm respondents – 69 percent – say that the most prevalent challenge in advancing diversity and inclusion at their law firms is implicit or unconscious bias.  In collaboration with Paul Hastings, the results of the survey are available at

Other notable obstacles to advancing diversity and inclusion in law firms identified by the report include a lack of diversity on the executive committee (48 percent), lack of succession planning for institutional client relationships (46 percent), not getting asked to go on client pitches (45 percent), lack of diversity on compensation committees (41 percent), and clients not pushing for diversity (41 percent).

The silver lining is that a majority of both law firm attorneys (61 percent) and corporate attorneys (56 percent) deem diversity and inclusion important to their firm or legal department. According to the survey, law firms and corporations have similar diversity and inclusion goals/targets in place. However, 59 percent of corporate in-house attorneys said they do not know whether their outside counsel has a diversity and inclusion plan in effect.

“There are a number of significant challenges to achieving diversity and inclusion in the legal field,” said Mike MacKay, President, Cross Platform Businesses, Bloomberg BNA.  “The prescriptions laid out in this report provide a way forward for firms to demonstrate progress in this critical area.”

Greg Nitzkowski, Paul Hasting’s Managing Partner and a member of its Diversity Committee, noted, “This report highlights the major ground that law firms still need to cover in order to make substantial change. It also uncovers that law firms need to do a better job of discussing this topic with clients.”

Other notable findings in the report include:

  • 45 percent of respondents cite a lack of awareness of the business case for diversity
  • 45 percent of respondents indicate a lack of diverse role models
  • 76 percent of law firm respondents say pressure from clients is the biggest catalyst for change
  • 55 percent of corporate attorneys feel diversity and inclusion is an important factor in selecting outside counsel

Looking to the future, the report recommends:

  • Developing and clearly communicating the business case for diversity and inclusion at both firms and corporations
  • Ensuring everyone within the organization understands the plan for diversity and inclusion and has a role to play
  • Looking to monetary incentives to promote diversity and inclusion, with lower incentive payouts for not meeting diversity goals

The survey was conducted in the summer of 2016 and represents the views of 261 law firm attorneys and corporate counsel.

About Bloomberg BNABloomberg BNA provides legal, tax and compliance professionals with critical information, practical guidance and workflow solutions.  We leverage leading technology and a global network of experts to deliver a unique combination of news and authoritative analysis, comprehensive research solutions, innovative practice tools, and proprietary business data and analytics.  Bloomberg BNA is wholly-owned by Bloomberg L.P., the global business, financial information and news leader.  For more information, visit 

About Big Law BusinessBig Law Business provides news, analysis, and information about the legal profession, with a focus on the business of law and the largest U.S. law firms. Featuring journalists from Bloomberg BNA and Bloomberg News, as well as columnists and contributors who lead and consult the world’s largest law firms, corporations and law schools, Big Law Business is focused on the significant developments shaping the legal industry.  The site is available at

About Paul HastingsAt Paul Hastings, our purpose is clear — to help our clients and people navigate new paths to growth. With a strong presence throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., Paul Hastings is recognized as one of the world’s most innovative global law firms.

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SOURCE Bloomberg BNA

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