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Reasons why Corporations are better evolved than law firms with diverse recruitment

Posted by: Laurence Simons 09/04/14

The Human Resources Department of a corporation is tasked with hiring more than just lawyers. In fact, hiring lawyers may constitute a small percentage of the total employees evaluated and/or hired by the company.  Thus, corporations are accustomed to competing with their rivals for talent in a variety of fields. Because of the breadth of experience that a Human Resources Department has, their recruitment is simply better evolved than the niche recruitment industry inside of law firms.

On the other hand, law firms are private organizations that hire professionals with a narrow skill set and specific credentials.  Law firms may answer to the marketplace, but do they have the same level of scrutiny as their in-house counterparts? Generally, there is no board of directors; there aren’t any government agencies or watch-dog groups telling law firms to turn their interest in increasing diversity into a reality. There is no doubt that this is related to why they fall behind their corporate counterparts in recruitment. 

It would be unfair to say that law firms do not have external pressure to make diversity more of a priority.  Certainly, there are law firms with recruiting and reporting responsibilities to government and private clients.  Even so, from the perspective of a legal recruitment professional, there still seems to be far more pressure and immediacy among corporations than within law firms. 

We believe, however, that this can and will change. As mentioned, there is increasing pressure from clients for law firms to diversify their associate and partner ranks. This will almost certainly increase diversity within these firms, as law firms become increasingly accountable to the marketplace. With the desire for more diversity already established, maybe it would be worthwhile for law firms to think about mirroring some of the efforts of those corporate clients.