It’s Thanksgiving again. A time to stuff ourselves, watch some serious football (well, some football anyway), and be thankful. It got me thinking: what do I, as a blogger on legal technology and innovation, have to be thankful for this year (beyond, of course, my tech toys lol).
So, here are my top 10 things I’m thankful for this year:
On September 14, Law360 Pulse released its annual Glass Ceiling Report. The Report summarizes Law 360’s Survey of women in law firms for 2020. Every time I hear about one of these Surveys, I hope for once, it will reveal some real progress. But they never do: just like the Law 360 Diversity Survey results previously discussed, the Glass Ceiling results are discouraging. Not just discouraging. Embarrassing. It makes me mad. It ought to make us all angry.
The annual Law360 Pulse Diversity Snapshot was recently released, and the numbers are once again depressing. The fact is that the practice of law remains the province of white people. (The Survey did not look at how women are faring, although a coming Law360 Survey will. But I would guess it would be accurate to say the profession still belongs primarily, if not exclusive, to old white guys). I had a chance recently to talk to Kerry Benn, Director of Series, Surveys & Data at Law360, about the Survey.
Benn told me Law 360 has been doing the Survey annually for seven years. For 2020, the Survey was completed by some 276 law firms of various sizes, so it’s pretty representative.
Uber Preferred Counsel Program uses data, metrics and tough questions to determine outside counsels’ commitment to diversity.
Let’s be blunt: The legal profession in general and law firms, in particular, have an abysmal record of diversity and inclusion. I have written about this several times, but despite the urgings of those more influential and well-spoken than me, improvements, well, just haven’t happened. The most recent ABA Study of diversity progress (or better put, lack thereof) glaringly demonstrates the failures.
The improvement in quality of work and decision making of diverse teams—teams composed of those other than old (and young) white men—have been well documented. Despite this, and even though both law firms and clients talk a good diversity and inclusion game, nothing ever seems to change. Why?
It’s early January, which for me means CES, the giant consumer electronics show. (CES used to Stand for Consumer Electronics Show but now it’s just CES). CES calls itself the world’s largest and most important tech event, where the entire technology ecosystem gathers to conduct business, launch products, build brands, and network
Each year I go to CES and come back energized and optimistic. Each year I try to summarize what I learned and how those lessons might apply to legal.
But lest some think this means BigLaw may be getting ready to stride into a lucrative new area that frees them from the tyranny of the billable hour and downward rate pressure, think again.
Last summer, I wrote two pieces about the lack of gender equality in the profession generally and big law in particular. These were based on an ABA Survey, which summarized several recent trends of the profession in such areas as diversity, women, legal education, technology, and more. It was not a pretty picture. (My first piece summarized the findings, the second responded to some criticisms of my interpretations of the Survey’s findings).
A recent Survey by Burford Capital conducted by Ari Kaplan Advisors, confirms the startling gap between men and women law firm compensation, especially at the partner level. This gap translates pretty directly into a lack of power of women within the law firm. And a lack of power translates into an inability to change the conditions that cause it.
And you still can hear me singing
To the people who don’t listen
To the things that I am saying
Praying someone’s gonna hear
And I guess I’ll die explaining how
The things that they complain about
Are things they could be changing
Hoping someone’s gonna care
Is the legal world really changing, or are we all still just talking about change?
Last week, for the first time in a couple of years, I attended the ABA TechShow in Chicago. It’s one of my favorite legal tech shows. Since its geared more toward smaller firms and solo lawyers, there is less high-power selling like, say at LegalWeek. This creates space for more substantive discussions and learning from vendors. That was certainly the case this year. The show featured multiple substantive tracks, over 2000 attendees, countless exhibitors, a start-up competition, and even a silent disco.
Today, at a relatively sparsely attended session at its annual meeting in San Francisco (the session did take place at 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon), the American Bar Association released its 2019 Profile of the Legal Profession Report and offered a blunt panel discussion on the findings.