Lincoln Derr was recently recognized as one of the most diverse law firms in Charlotte. Our equity membership is 100% female, as are 80% of our attorneys.
Granted, we are small, and as Benjamin Disraeli ( and many others that have laid claim to this quote) said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." And, as many of my opposing counsel bemoan in the courtroom, I can make my numbers say whatever I want. But the truth of the matter is that we have opened our eyes to the benefits of diversity — not just for the sake of our marketing or the images we can post online, but to bring the benefits of diverse perspectives to our clients, colleagues, juries, and our profession as a whole. We have been intentional in our hiring and have sought out individuals who will make our collective thought process stronger.
But even a diverse legal team has room to grow in naming implicit biases.
"That's because lawyers can be a tough audience, resistant to the idea that they might be behaving unfairly," says Cindy-Ann Thomas, co-chair of Littler Mendelson's employment and diversity practice.
She's right: Many of us believe we are the smartest or rightest (if that is a word) person in the room. We struggle to allow younger lawyers to write the way they want to write because our way must be better. Every day we struggle with broad categories of implicit biases, and we are working our way through them, just as we hope every lawyer, every law firm leader, every judge, and every juror will open their eyes to their own implicit biases.
After all, naming those biases forges a path to start the conversation and develop strategies to address exposed issues.
Yes, we are at the top of the leader board with our firm diversity, but we do not boast the numbers for the sole purpose of winning the "stats" competition. We instead hope to encourage others to accept law firm diversity as a model for success.
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