11 January 2018
In-house lawyers have been disclosing their best and worst opinions of law firms in the RollOnFriday survey. If you work in-house and haven't completed the form yet, you can do so here.

The lack of diversity in law firms has been a bugbear for many respondents. One in-house lawyer said that they wanted their law firms to "be like the business I work in", but instead found that most firms are "pale, male and stale". The in-house believed that non-diverse firms were "filled with people who struggle to empathise and have no emotional intelligence", whereas firms with greater diversity didn't suffer from the same problems.

Another respondent who agreed with this sentiment said "people from different backgrounds, particularly different socio-economic backgrounds, can bring different and more pragmatic approaches to problems".  One in-house lawyer complained that a firm's lack of diversity meant that on international deals it had narrow-minded lawyers who "only know how to crack stereotypical jokes that they picked up in their Oxbridge union bar".

  The board tried not to stare when a woman entered the room.
 

One female client said that it was depressing to attend meetings at a law firm where she was "the only senior woman in the room". She added that it was time for firms "to join the 21st century" since they were "making financial services look good, and that is really saying something".

However, not all the respondents felt that diversity was an issue. One client said that meritocracy was more important, whilst another agreed that a lawyer's competency to do the work was what mattered most, rather than their background.

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Comments

Anonymous 12 Jan 18

"However, not all the respondents felt that diversity was an issue. One client said that meritocracy was more important, whilst another agreed that a lawyer's competency to do the work was what mattered most, rather than their background." this.

Anonymous 12 Jan 18

This says more about the respondents than it does the firms. Do they want some vinegar with the chip on their shoulder? Surely legal skill, commercial awareness, responsiveness and fees are more important considerations than whether a firm represents all the different backgrounds, skin colours, genders and sexual preferences under the sun.

Anonymous 12 Jan 18

To be honest as an in-house lawyer, we are only interested in the bottom line, everything else just doesn't matter.

Anonymous 12 Jan 18

As an in-house lawyer, I look for appropriately priced competence. Generally that does mean a firm employs both sexes and has a range of backgrounds but that’s a consequence and not a condition. Anyone who writes, in all seriousness, “pale and stale” really needs to have a good think about themselves, if only because they resort to tedious cliches. There are plenty of stereotypes to run about in house lawyers and only some of them are untrue.

Anonymous 12 Jan 18

Given that a lot of women are attracted to in-house roles for better work flexibility and life balance, law firms would do well to recognise the make up of their clients. The ignorant comments about ‘talent’ are bull and they know it - male or female, a private practice firm wouldn’t have them unless they can do a job well.

Anonymous 12 Jan 18

The term "pale, male and stale" is derogatory and demeaning to white males. I trust the in-house counsel who made this remark will be sent on diversity training forthwith.

Anonymous 12 Jan 18

Indeed @8:44. And if law firms were truly meritocracies, there would be more diversity. Unless you're suggesting that white men are naturally more competent.

Anonymous 13 Jan 18

When women are 80% not 20% of senior highest earning equity partnerships in London I will be happier. We have a long way to go.

Anonymous 14 Jan 18

Oh look. There's a chippy little man neg rating comments supporting diversity. What a shock.

Anonymous 15 Jan 18

"...I believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era" - said most law firms, everywhere.

Anonymous 15 Jan 18

Surely the answer is to instruct the firms that provide the best service at the right price etc? Or - less objectively - those lawyers you simply find you work best with.

If buyers of legal services gravitate to more diverse firms for that reason, those firms (and the lawyers in them) will thrive and the market will have spoken. And rather than complain, instruct and support those lawyers.

Anonymous 16 Jan 18

Of course meritocracy is important but I think women and/or ethnic minorities are not given a chance in the first place to show their merits. That is what is most wrong.

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