More companies push for diversity in outside law firms; Facebook adopts one-third mandate

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Facebook is one of the latest companies to join the push for outside law firms to embrace diversity.

Facebook implemented its new mandate last Saturday, the New York Times reports. Its in-house legal department is requiring outside law firms to staff legal teams working on Facebook matters with at least 33 percent women and minorities.

Law firms will also have to show they create clear and measurable leadership opportunities for women and minorities when they represent the company, according to the article.

“Firms typically do what their clients want,” Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told the Times. “And we want to see them win our cases and create opportunities for women and people of color. We think the firms are ready—our articulation gives not just permission but a mandate.”

Other firms are also acting:

  • In February, HP general counsel Kim Rivera announced the company may withhold up to 10 percent of invoiced legal fees if outside law firms don’t meet its diversity standards.
  • MetLife general counsel Ricardo Anzaldua will inform outside law firms at an April 20 meeting that they need to create formal plans to promote and retain diverse lawyers, according to the Times and Bloomberg Big Law Business.
  • Wal-Mart is taking a data-driven approach in tracking diversity in outside law firms, Bloomberg Big Law Business reports in a separate story. Senior associate general counsel Alan Bryan said that programs created to keep track of legal spending can also be used to monitor diversity. The company’s system can rack race, gender, and ethnicity or hours worked per attorney, he said.



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