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In-house lawyer diversity league tables announced, tired buffet analogy invoked

Posted by: Laurence Simons 02/08/12

Senior QC highlights the importance of diversity

Who turns up to a buffet and eats just the bread rolls? Answer: nobody. You fill your paper plate with coleslaw and a slice of frittata and some kind of dip thing, and then you eat all that and try not to get it on your shirt.

In case you were not aware, the above was actually an incredibly obtuse metaphor for the legal hot potato (also available at buffets) that is diversity. And with it being on-campus interviewing season, Above the Law has presented the latest Vault rankings for the most diverse firms in the US, to help minority attorneys find the most welcoming pair of Biglaw arms in which to start their legal careers.

The winner? For the fourth year in a row, Carlton Fields. Second behind them was Ropes & Gray, with honourable mentions going to Littler Mendelson, Debevoise & Plimpton, Jenner & Block and Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

Vault's rankings are based on associate feedback from partners and attorneys across the country, so gives a pretty rounded outsider view over who is proactively encouraging diversity and who could do with laying off the bread rolls a little. And it's not just ethnic diversity the rankings tot up: the scorecard also encompasses factors such as gender and LGBT issues. In all of the above, Carlton Fields comes out on top. In your face, everyone else!

In the UK, the annual Diversity League Table (DLT) issued by the Black Solicitors Network crowns the most diverse firms and chambers in various areas of the UK, and as of November 2011 Midlands-based Shoosmiths took the top spot. Hardwicke Chambers took the chambers statuette.
But it's not just would-be legal graduates who are keen to join welcoming firms - as senior QC Edward Garnier noted at the DLT Legal Awards, diversity can give firms an edge in understanding international clients.

"A good lawyer is a good lawyer," he said, in between mouthfuls of cheese dip, "but a good lawyer who understands the client, the client’s country and how best to relate the services of a UK law firm to the market in question is more than an asset.”