Diversity is a popular buzzword that dominates professional circles. Everyone wants to present an image that depicts their law firm as in touch with various communities and perspectives. However, it’s not just about image. A 2016 survey showed that law firms with multicultural counsel saw a boost to their bottom line via increased spending and more client referrals. But how do you actually go about sourcing qualified—yet diverse—candidates for your legal practice?
Understand That There is a Diverse Candidate Pool Available
The percentage of minority students that graduate from law schools has increased over the last decade and a half. This demographic has steadily risen even though, overall, law school enrollment has been on the decline. In the past 16 years, the number of graduating minority law students has risen from 20% to 26%. So, it’s not that qualified minority applicants aren’t an option. You just haven’t made them a priority—yet.
Don’t Just Pay Lip Service to Diversity
Everyone is talking about diversity in law, but there’s a difference between saying you want a team comprised of different backgrounds and perspectives versus actually taking the time to find candidates that fit these criteria. Additionally, achieving this goal also requires creating a corporate culture that reflects your commitment to valuing everyone’s contributions and mindsets. Encouraging activities like corporate retreats can help your staff get to know each other better in a low-stress environment. This can foster an appreciation of each other and build a more cohesive workforce that works better together. If you insist on managing recruitment and an office environment with a “business as usual” mindset, your applicants will remain uniform or diverse hires will ultimately leave.
Seek Out New Recruitment Options
If your goal is to close the minority gap, you also need to begin recruiting from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). They might not receive as much national attention as, say, Harvard Law School, but universities like Howard University’s School of Law are very competitive and a popular recruitment pipeline for big law firms focused on improving or maintaining their diversity initiatives. Additionally, it’s important to establish relationships with diverse bar associations. If you haven’t created a network that includes organizations like your local Hispanic or African American bar associations, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to develop a pipeline that directly connects with diverse hires.
Create a Multicultural Hiring Team
Insure that the “face” of your company reflects a diverse workforce. In a tight labor market like we’re currently facing, candidates know they have options. If your recruiters don’t display the diversity you claim to want, some candidates may decline your job offer.
Create an Inclusive Environment
It’s not enough to just hire diverse legal attorneys. Your goal should be to retain them and foster their growth in your firm. This means in addition to a diverse recruitment team and a corporate culture that supports multiculturalism, you should also build a mentoring staff that’s geared towards the unique challenges minority hires can face in the legal profession.
All of the above suggestions are smart ways to help improve your workforce. But many law firms don’t have the time or resources to devote to creating a dedicated diversity recruitment strategy. This is where LawTrades can be the perfect solution. We have extensive experience in sourcing, vetting, and managing the onboarding process to fully staff your law firm. At LawTrades we implement effective strategies to build a solid pipeline of qualified multicultural candidates for your firm. When you’re ready to diversify your firm, contact us to get started.