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American law firms pledge $5 million fund for diversity initiative

23 September 2019

A consortium of American law firms and in-house counsel have pledged $5 million (US) aimed at addressing lack of diversity in the legal profession.

Move the Needle Fund was founded by four American law firms and 26 general counsel, and describes itself as an ‘experimental laboratory’ to progress diversity in the legal profession.

The firms Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Goodwin Procter, Eversheds Sutherland and Stoel Rives will each invest $1 million to pay for research and costs.

The fifth firm will be chosen through a blind application process by the end of the year.

The firms' financial contributions will largely fund experimenting new approaches to hiring, work/life integration, work allocation, sponsorship, promotions, feedback, performance reviews and compensation systems.

Founding counsel will be involved in experimentation and measuring the outcomes of Move the Needle’s initiatives. The results will be made public.

Some goals of the project have already been completely established. Winning ideas from the 2018 Diversity in Law Hackathon will be implemented and the American Bar Association’s evidence-based research ‘Interrupting Racial & Gender Bias in the Legal Profession’ will be tested.

American legal research data published on Move the Needle's website shows that while law school graduating classes are 50% women, just 21% are law firm equity partners.

Racial and ethnic minorities make up 33% law school graduating classes, while 9% are law firm equity partners.

Last updated on the 23rd September 2019