Pro Bono and Diversity
An article by Richard Sander, the Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm, first printed in the North Carolina Law Review, reached a number of controversial conclusions about diversity. However, it also contains interesting data concerning the intersection between pro bono and diversity. The statistics should not be construed to suggest simplistic interrelationships. The statistics are reproduced below.
Workload Statistics for Attorneys in Large Offices, by Race
Taken from the American Bar Foundation "After the JD" Questionnaire
||Mean Response for Each Group (Median)|
|Median (Mean) Pro Bono Hours over the Past Year
As noted in a monograph produced by K & L Gates LLP and the Pro Bono Institute, entitled The Synergy at the Intersection of Diversity and Pro Bono, "legal institutions, be they corporate legal departments or law firms, face very real and similar challenges in developing a cadre of diverse professionals. Historically, neither the legal departments of corporate America nor the law firms that serve it have been sources of opportunity for minorities. So, as these organizations set out to diversify, they face challenges of institution building in recruiting, training, and mentoring their lawyers." The monograph also notes that "[f]or some of the minority candidates, those whose life experiences may have made them particularly sensitive to the needs of professionally underserved populations, the pro bono program may afford them an opportunity to “give back.” That opportunity may represent a core element of their professional persona. An institution that provides a vehicle for such work will be more likely to knit such individuals into the fabric of the institution. Improving lawyer retention allows the institution to enjoy the economic benefit of its investment of time and resources in the professional development of its lawyers." Clearly, if the data included in the law review table above prove valid, and African-American and Hispanic attorneys are indeed performing substantially more pro bono work than other ethnic groups, that is a strong indicator of an intersection between an organizational commitment to pro bono and to diversity is clear. A copy of the monograph cited above is available free of charge to Member law firms and corporate legal departments from the Pro Bono Institute. To order a copy, please contact the PBI Communications Associate, Eva-Marie Malone, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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