Recognizing our law firms for diversity progress and innovation

At Microsoft, we recognize that the business we transact with our supplier base can make a material impact in fostering greater levels of diversity in their various industries. That’s why last year Microsoft spent more than $2.9 billion working with suppliers who are minority-, disabled-, veteran-, LGBTQ+, and woman-owned businesses.

In 2008, we created our Law Firm Diversity Program (LFDP) to foster collaboration with our law firm partners to help increase diversity in the legal profession. We built the LFDP around three enduring principles: (1) diversity (both within Microsoft’s legal department and at our partner firms) leads to better business outcomes; (2) accountability can accelerate progress; and (3) working together collaboratively on diversity is necessary to us make real and enduring progress. Our initial program focused on financially rewarding our partner firms for increasing diversity at their firms overall, with diversity being defined broadly to include women and racial and ethnic minorities, individuals identifying as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and veterans. In 2015, we evolved the program to focus on increasing diversity in firm leadership, including in the firms’ management committees, partnership and partners working on Microsoft work.

Over the course of the past 11 years, we’ve seen measurable progress. In fact, across our participating firms, we have seen sustained momentum in these key metrics we track:

  • Since 2008, participating firms have increased the average percentage of hours worked by diverse lawyers on Microsoft matters from 33.6% to 58.7%.
  • Since 2015 when we added leadership diversity metrics, diversity in overall partner ranks increased from 33.2% to 37.4%.
  • Since 2015, diverse partner hours have comprised more than 45% of all partner hours serviced on Microsoft matters.
  • Since 2015, diversity in management committees increased from 31.2% to 41.8%.
  • Since 2015, we’ve had a diverse first or second chair in 90% of the litigation matters large enough to be subject to bidding.

This year we are proud to honor Greenberg Traurig as the LFDP’s top performer. As their engagement with Microsoft grew this past year, so did opportunities for the firm’s diverse attorneys to work on Microsoft matters. Over the past year, Greenberg Traurig’s diverse partner hours on Microsoft matters increased 16 points from 45% to 61%, and all diverse attorney hours increased 13 points from 58% to 71%. With both partner and all-attorney hours over 60 percent, Greenberg Traurig is making incredible strides and has become a strong partner in setting a high bar for the industry.

The diverse teams from Greenberg Traurig performed with excellence. Our attorneys who work closely with Greenberg Traurig noted that all members of the team were consummate trusted advisors, and their impressive work led to positive outcomes for Microsoft. We congratulate Greenberg Traurig for their notable progress and look forward to their continued partnership on our collective diversity and inclusion efforts.

Expanding our Law Firm Diversity Program to recognize innovation in diversity programs

While we applaud the progress that has been made, we also recognize that there is still much to do. The legal profession continues to lag behind other industries and the diversity of our communities overall, whether for women, minorities or other diverse groups. Ongoing progress will require us to think more broadly than diversity metrics alone.

We need more innovation.

Real, meaningful and sustained progress will require innovation on culture, equal opportunity, and career development in law firms and in-house legal departments. It also will require sharing learnings and insights across our industry to help us all get better together. As a result, we added this focus on innovation as a new fourth principle for the LFDP.

To incentivize innovation, we have expanded our LFDP to also recognize and award the Most Innovative firm in the area of diversity and inclusion over the last year, as voted by their peer firms. Our goal with this award is to identify and highlight the best ideas, foster an open dialogue across our partner firms, and create a connected community amongst our providers for sharing learnings and lessons.

It was heartening to learn about the innovative approaches that many of our partner firms are taking to create a more diverse and inclusive culture at their firms. And out of that pool of bold ideation and experimentation, I’m pleased to announce the winner of our inaugural D&I Most Innovative award is Latham & Watkins, whose initiatives were overwhelmingly favored by their peers.

Highlights of Latham’s initiatives include:

  • Actions to address socioeconomic diversity. Latham has defined strategies for reaching the underrepresented group of First Generational Professionals (“FGP”). Broadening outreach to this group has been accomplished through FGP affinity groups, supporting FGP student organizations at law schools across the country, and collaborating with schools to set up their own FGP groups.
  • Actions to address lateral hiring diversity. Latham is the first law firm to sponsor the California Minority Counsel Program job board in a pointed effort to reach diverse lateral candidates. The homogenous lateral market is thought to be one of the key factors in the lack of progress in improving diversity in the legal profession.
  • Actions to address professional and leadership development. Latham’s Diversity Leadership Academy provides tailored training sessions for law students and Latham associates for professional success and leadership development. Latham also recently launched a Leadership Development Program, which provides coaching and mentoring by retired Latham partners to counsel and partners from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the law.
  • Actions to address D&I culture and awareness. To help build a more inclusive culture, Latham launched the Inclusion Initiative. Each month, lawyers and staff are encouraged to undertake small, concrete actions designed to increase inclusion among teams, offices, and the firm at large.

Reflecting the true spirit of this award, Latham & Watkins, along with 10 other firms, have graciously allowed us to share with you some of their ideas and initiatives to advance diversity and inclusion at their firms. We hope you’ll find inspiration, as we have, to innovate and contribute to increasing diversity and inclusion across our industry.

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