More People of Color Are Enrolling in Law School. Are Your Recruiting Practices Ready?

September 21, 2020

Law School Admission Council President and CEO Kellye Testy offers a succinct explanation for the recent increase in law school applications by people of color: “People who are personally affected by injustice are the most motivated to work for justice.” Known as the “Trump Bump,” the surge in applications marks an increased concern about social justice since the election and is present across all demographic groups. In a few years, not only might this mean law firm graduating classes will better reflect the general population, but these lawyers may have different interests as well. Many current law school students say that social justice work should be “very important” to any firm they would consider working for.

That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that these newly minted lawyers will wind up solely in public service roles. Corporate law firms would be wise to pay attention to the admissions trend and revise their recruiting policies accordingly. Not only must they continue to nurture relationships with minority law student associations and design summer associate and other internships programs that serve as on ramps to the firm, but they have to get beyond diversity “window dressing” and deal with their firm culture. Attorneys of color want to work for firms that authentically value their contributions, because, as research shows, diverse teams provide more creative problem-solving and better client service. If your firm is still (explicitly or implicitly) framing the D&I conversation around quotas, you are missing the point — and you will lose out to firms with a more sophisticated understanding of how to foster inclusion.

Why should corporate firms care? Because they need the skills and creativity of these bright and socially aware young lawyers. And they also need to persuade their corporate clients that they are doing everything within their power to build more meaningful representation on outside legal teams.

But you don’t have to make these changes alone. We can help you use marketing and communications to build a more just and robust talent pipeline, and support all the attorneys in your firm. Get in touch.