Diversity Managers, Committees Increase in Large Law Firms

(NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA, January 30, 2007) — The newly released Altman Weil Flash Survey on the Diversity Manager position in large US law firms reports that 50% of participating firms have a designated Diversity Manager or Director up 5.4% from the prior year.  In addition, the survey found that 96% of participants report having a Diversity Committee in their firm, up from 93%.

The survey, developed with input from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), canvassed AmLaw 200 law firms.  Survey data is based on 72 responses (37%) collected in December 2006 and January 2007.

“In the second year of the survey, we’re seeing an increasing number of diversity professionals in large law firms.  They are also more likely to have law degrees, prior diversity experience and a direct reporting relationship with senior firm management,” notes Altman Weil Senior Consultant, Virginia Grant Essandoh.  “These are all indicators that the issue of diversity continues to gain importance in US law firms.”

“While the increase is a step in the right direction, focused leadership and accountability are critical factors that drive successful diversity efforts,” states Veta Richardson, Executive Director of MCCA.  “MCCA continues to highlight the importance of law firms having a designated Diversity Manager.”

Diversity Manager Position
According to the survey, 67% of Diversity Managers are lawyers in their firms, up from 53% in the first survey.  For 61% of Diversity Managers, the position is full time; and, 67% report to the firm Chair or Managing Partner, up from 47% last year.

Some Diversity Managers are balancing their duties with an active law practice.  Twenty-nine percent of those who are lawyers have a billable hour requirement, in most cases between 1,500 and 2,000 hours per year.

Clearly this is still a new role in law firms.  Thirty-one percent of all Diversity Managers have been in their jobs less that one year, and 54% have held the position for between one and three years.

Roles and Responsibilities
Diversity Managers serve in a variety of roles, including involvement in the lawyer/staff hiring process (67%), Recruiting Committee (58%), Professional Development Committee (39%), Associate Relations Committee (36%), Associate Review Committee (33%), Compensation Committee (14%) and Partner Review Committee (11%).

The primary areas of responsibility for Diversity Managers are to develop, promote and implement diversity goals and strategies and to promote awareness of diversity issues within the firm.  Other top jobs include managing external outreach programs, and collaborating with corporate clients on diversity initiatives.  The lowest ranked job priority is establishing mentoring programs.

“While most firms have mentoring programs, apparently they are not linking them with their diversity initiatives,” observes Ms. Essandoh.  “This is a missed opportunity to improve job satisfaction and retention efforts for women and minority lawyers.”

Budgeting for Diversity
The average annual total cash compensation for Diversity Managers in the survey was reported at $217,012.  Diversity Managers who are lawyers take home an average $255,000, while non-lawyer professionals earn $149,478, 42% less.  

The total budget allocation to support the position (including the Manager’s salary) was an average of $513,500.  Seventy-eight percent of Diversity Managers have staff support, with an average 1.6 staff positions reporting to them. 

About the Survey
Survey data was collected in December 2006 and January 2007 from AmLaw 200 law firms, with 37% participating (72 of 196 firms solicited).  57.7% of respondents were law firms with over 400 lawyers.  The full report of the tabulated data appears on the Altman Weil website at www.altmanweil.com/DiversitySurvey2007.

About Altman Weil
Founded in 1970, Altman Weil, Inc. provides management consulting services to law firms, law departments and legal vendors throughout North America, Latin America, the U.K. and Europe. Altman Weil is known for the many legal economic and management surveys it conducts and publishes, including the annual Survey of Law Firm Economics.  For more information about Altman Weil, go to www.altmanweil.com.

About Minority Corporate Counsel Association
The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) was founded in 1997 to advocate for the expanded hiring, retention, and promotion of minority attorneys in corporate law departments and the law firms that serve them. MCCA accomplishes its mission through the collection and dissemination of information about diversity in the legal profession.  For more information about MCCA, go to www.mcca.com.

Contact Information

Download a copy of survey results:  www.altmanweil.com/DiversitySurvey2007

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