82% of top legal decision makers say they know virtually nothing about their law firms’ DEI strategies and actions. The only thing resembling a silver lining here is this number was 92% 3 years ago.
The closest these clients ever get to law firms DEI plans are the statistics they see in a proposal, on a website, or firm correspondence. Outside of this, mum is the word.
They indicate they don’t know anything about their law firms’:
- DEI leadership
- Success stories
- Level of commitment
- Leadership commitment
- Head of the effort at the firm
This lack of awareness is one factor behind clients taking unilateral action like establishing requirements for hours billed by diverse attorneys and similar programs. These clients want to set the pace and drive change. They don’t know what law firms are doing — which is often interpreted as not doing anything — so these clients take action and impose standards and metrics.
Go Beyond Just Telling Your Client
There is only one proven strategy to fill the DEI effort knowledge gap — educate clients. We recommend every firm outline its strategy, commitment, goals, and progress with clients. Not just a conversation, but a fully developed thought piece — with the same gravitas as pursuing a global transaction or winning the court decision creating new law.
Communicate your DEI investment and plan through relationship partners, DEI leaders, and firm leaders. It takes these 3 levels of communication to prove to clients the firm has a fully developed plan and is fully committed.
Bring Clients into the Process
Ask your top clients to advise your DEI committees, diversity leaders, and the firm. Your clients have ideas and opinions to help you improve. They have seen their own company’s programs and heard from a lot of law firms. Invite them to share, comment, and help your initiative. You will learn how to improve public DEI efforts and enjoy the added business of better understanding your client.
The best outcome is when you invite clients into your process. You exchange ideas and both walk away with new and better strategies to drive improved DEI.
The Mad Clientist