Celebrating 10 years of Microsoft’s Law Firm Diversity Program and honoring 2018’s top performer

Ten years ago, Microsoft launched our Law Firm Diversity Program – an effort to work closely with our law firm partners to increase diversity.[1] In conjunction with internal efforts to grow diversity and foster inclusion in Microsoft’s legal department, this program was an opportunity to see if we could encourage our industry to become more diverse at all levels through an incentive-based program. Ten years later, we want to share some of the progress we’ve seen from our partners and honor our top performer for 2018.

2018 top performer

I’m proud to recognize Davis Wright Tremaine (DWT) as the top performer in the 2018 Law Firm Diversity Program. DWT met or surpassed expectations for all of this year’s Law Firm Diversity Program metrics, which focused on management committee diversity, firmwide partnership diversity and diversity of the partners working on Microsoft matters.

The firm has been a solid performer in the Law Firm Diversity Program since its inception, but has made particularly strong strides recently. In the last five years, DWT increased the percentage of hours worked by diverse attorneys on Microsoft matters from 45 percent to more than 60 percent.  And, in just over the last two years, the percentage of hours worked by diverse partners on our matters has increased from 39 percent to over 50 percent.  And while the firm has consistently done a good job of providing opportunities for women, DWT has increased the percentage of diverse partner hours worked by racial and ethnic minorities on Microsoft matters by about 28 percent since 2016.

A decade of results

DWT’s results this year are impressive, but we also want to recognize the overall progress by our law firm partners over the last decade. We started the Law Firm Diversity Program in 2008 by giving participating firms a bonus at the end of our fiscal year if they reached a quantifiable diversity goal. We did this to ensure that the legal profession caught up to others when it came to including diverse voices. We believe it’s very important that the lawyers working on our matters, as well as our key firms as a whole, reflect the diversity of our customers and other important stakeholders, such as judges and juries. We’re proud of some of the progress our firms have made in the last decade:

  • Working on Microsoft matters: In the last decade, participating firms increased the percentage of hours worked by diverse lawyers on Microsoft matters from 33.6 percent to 58.3 percent. Most law firms participating in the program earned their bonuses every year, with over 80 percent of the firms earning their bonuses annually.
  • Leading the firm: In 2015, the company updated the Law Firm Diversity Program to include a focus on diversity in leadership roles, including the firm’s management committee, partners and partners working on Microsoft work. Since that time, we’ve seen diverse representation on management committees increase from 31.2 percent to 39.7 percent. We’ve also seen an increase in diversity in overall partner ranks from 33.2 percent to 35.9 percent.
  • Leading Microsoft matters: In the last three fiscal years, we’ve had a diverse first or second chair in 90 percent of the litigation matters large enough to be subject to bidding.

We firmly believe that these impressive advances have increased the quality of the reprentation we get from our firms, and have improved our results.

Voices of attorneys

Focusing on the metrics is important to show progress, but it can’t convey the tangible impact programs like the Law Firm Diversity Program can have on individual people. In honoring Davis Wright Tremaine, we worked together to create a video that highlights some of their great attorneys and how our close partnership and the Law Firm Diversity Program can make a difference. Please take a look.

We’ve seen progress and measurable successes, but we know there is more to do as long as women and minorities are still underrepresented in the legal field. According to Law360’s 2018 Minority Report, minorities recently topped 30 percent of U.S. law school students, yet only 8 percent of equity partners at U.S. law firms are minorities. And just 2 percent of those partners are African-American. The picture is not much brighter for women. Women make up more than half of law school students but are just 35 percent of attorneys at law firms and only 21 percent of equity partners, according to Law360’s 2018 Glass Ceiling Report.

We congratulate all of our Law Firm Diversity Program partners and look forward to continuing to work with them to find new ways to grow diversity and foster inclusion in our profession.

Law Firm Diversity Program participating firms

Arent Fox LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Fish & Richardson, PC
Greenberg Traurig, PA
K&L Gates, LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Merchant & Gould
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Perkins Coie, LLP
Sidley Austin, LLP
Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP

[1] Microsoft defines “diverse” as attorneys who are female, racial and ethnic minorities, openly LGBT, people with disabilities and veterans.