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The Action after the Call: What General Counsels Say About the Value of Diversity in Legal Purchasing Decisions in the Years Following the 'Call to Action'

49 Pages Posted: 23 May 2015  

David B. Wilkins

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession

Young-Kyu Kim

Korea University Business School; Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession

Date Written: May 1, 2015

Abstract

This chapter makes a modest contribution to providing an empirical assessment of the Call to Action’s effectiveness. We do so by examining the results of a quantitative and qualitative study conducted in 2006-07 of what the GCs of S&P 500 companies say about the criteria they employ when hiring – and terminating – law firms in “very significant” legal matters (Coates et al. 2010). In the course of this study, one of the factors that we asked these GCs to evaluate is the importance of diversity in making hiring decisions of this kind. As a result, we have direct evidence of how these important decision makers claim to evaluate diversity in the years shortly following the Call to Action in the cases that matter to large companies – and to the law firms who seek to represent these companies – the most.

In the pages that follow, we use these data to investigate three questions that we believe are central to evaluating the success of the Call to Action, and of corporate diversity initiatives generally: 1) How do GCs rate the importance of diversity relative to other factors in deciding whether to hire counsel for important legal work; 2) are there differences among companies in the relative importance they place on diversity, and if so, what factors might explain these differences; and 3) does the manner in which companies value diversity have implications for other aspects of the relationship between companies and law firms.

Suggested Citation

Wilkins, David B. and Kim, Young-Kyu, The Action after the Call: What General Counsels Say About the Value of Diversity in Legal Purchasing Decisions in the Years Following the 'Call to Action' (May 1, 2015). HLS Center on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2015-5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2609103 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2609103

David B. Wilkins (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5018
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Young-Kyu Kim

Korea University Business School ( email )

Anam-Dong, Seongbuk-Gu
Seoul 136-701, 136701
Korea

Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5018
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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