The Center for Legal Inclusiveness is seeking local law firms to participate in a pilot survey this fall to measure workplace diversity, inclusion and employee engagement. The organization aims to recruit 10 firms for the computer-based survey, with the first round of results to be released in the spring.
Patrick O’Rourke, board chair of Denver-based CLI, said the organization had for years been looking at how to improve the culture of law firms to retain recruits from underrepresented or marginalized groups. He said that while firms have made strides in bringing diverse attorneys into the profession, they haven’t done as good of a job at keeping or promoting them.
“If you’re bringing people into the organization but you’re not able to keep them there, you’re not really going to be able to change the culture,” O’Rourke said.
A 2018 survey on law firm diversity published by Vault.com and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association showed that although recruitment of attorneys of color has improved, racial minorities were disproportionately likely to leave their firms in 2017, accounting for 22% of those who left while representing only 17% of lawyers employed in the firms. Among associates, that number was even higher at 28%, the survey said, adding that these attrition rates were the highest in 11 years, even surpassing those from the peak of the recession. The survey also found that minorities were much less likely to be promoted to partner, with 46% of white attorneys holding the title, compared to 24% of attorneys of color.