A corporate strategy mantra that also resonates within good law departments and law firms….
When PayPal, Uber, Acritas, Springer Nature, Legal & General Group Plc and RPC are all reported as saying the same thing on the same day – that diversifying your legal department and your law firm client contact team is good for business – then…. hopefully, the message will start to sink in!
And the message is a powerful and rational one on commercial as well as ethical and working life quality grounds.
Acritas' data, from its recent survey of international legal departments, has demonstrated that law department teams and joint working teams between law departments and their law firm advisors achieve better outcomes across a range of criteria that matter to business – from value for money, via business awareness to consistent quality – from being diverse.
This message came across very clearly in an RPC hosted event on 15th November where Jo Aitken of Acritas presented the results of their survey and at which the GC of Springer Nature, Rachel Jacobs, and L&G's Group Legal Manager (Retirement), Helena Hawthorn, were key note speakers.
Having worked from 1998 to 2015 in a range of in house legal departments; the data and the anecdotes from the guest speakers made great sense to me because the best teams that I have worked in and have run have been very diverse – except when I was sole counsel when improving the diversity of my team was not easy!
After all a rounded range of skills, experiences, behaviours, cultures, backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities, ages, genders, gender identities, etc all help to provide insights and a balance of views and behaviours within the team which makes the team more powerful and more resilient in meeting client needs than a law team "mono-culture" can do.
Increasingly the law departments' clients in their businesses and among their employers' customers, suppliers, regulators and other stakeholders are also more diverse – especially in international organisations.
So a law department which can "mirror" its clients and its stakeholders can offer strong benefits in terms of effective, empathetic and enjoyable engagement with the business.
And what is true for a law department <-> client interaction is also true for a law firm <-> law department interaction.
So, armed with this knowledge, what are you going to do?