Exploring Data-Driven Strategies for Building an Inclusive Law Firm that Fosters Growth
Gender diversity, although widely discussed, remains a pressing concern in the legal profession. The latest statistics from the American Bar Association revealed that only 38.2% of attorneys in the United States are women. Likewise, the Leopard Solutions Law Firm Index (LLFI) highlights that among the top 200 LLFI firms, merely 38% of their attorneys hail from diverse gender backgrounds. These figures underscore the need to address the gender imbalance within the legal industry, striving for a representation that mirrors the diverse society it serves.
At Leopard Solutions, we have been gathering and dissecting data, shedding light on the status of diversity and women in the legal field with reports including How the Legal Industry is Doing with Diversity in 2022, Women Leaving Law, and the Challenges of Women in Big Law.
More importantly, the LLFI is the benchmarking tool we use to monitor law firms’ performance. The Leopard Law Firm Index is a dynamic rating system that evaluates law firms based on meticulous, quantitative datasets, with weights proportional to their size. Within this index, two critical metrics used to rank the firms are their ethnic diversity ratio within the firm and their percentage of women partners. This index is a crucial benchmark tool law firms can rely on to benchmark their progress. We have also provided firms with data to help them navigate and chart diversity progress. Our research consistently demonstrates that law firms’ balanced and diverse composition contributes significantly to their overall health and longevity. Additionally, we recently hosted a diversity webinar to present the latest data and recent survey results conducted on the diversity progress within top law firms.
Setting Benchmarks to Help Law Firms with Their Progress
Through our data-driven approach, we aim to continue illuminating the achievements, challenges, and equal opportunities for all professionals within the legal sphere. Our extensive attorney movement and promotions data allow law firms to construct robust benchmarking analyses. These analyses enable them to compare their diversity metrics with industry standards, facilitating a path toward improvement. The most successful law firms, such as the AmLaw top 50 law firms, have consistently maintained their top positions, a feat partially attributed to their commitment to fostering gender diversity (based on our analysis using the Firmscape report) whereby the female/male gender ratio has surged by 29% over the past five years as compared to 26% increase for all other firms.
More Gender-diverse Firms Promote Retention
Using Leopard Solutions’ Firmscape Growth Decline report, law firms can evaluate their percentage of female partners, counsel, and associates, drawing comparisons with similar-sized firms or those within the same practice area. This benchmarking process enables firms to identify areas of excellence and pinpoint opportunities for improvement, promoting gender equality within their ranks. Most strikingly, the top five gender-diverse firms have retained 8% more of their partners than their peers. Moreover, their success extends to the retention of graduate hires, boasting a 5% higher retention rate than other firms. (Source: Leopard Solutions Firmscape).
By harnessing the power of data analysis, law firms can discern trends and best practices that safeguard their overall health and align with their growth aspirations. The LLFI’s eight criteria for ranking firms are vital indicators for firms to monitor regularly. These criteria encompass factors such as changes in attorney headcount, average attorney tenure, fluctuations in revenue per lawyer (RPL) over five years, lateral recruiting success, general retention rates (for partners and associates), success in recruiting and retaining entry-level attorneys, partner promotions, ethnic diversity within the firm, and the percentage of women partners. See the complete LLFI criteria here.
Armed with these insights, firms can structure effective mentorship programs, ensuring the retention of valuable talent while nurturing a cadre of partners across diverse practice areas. Additionally, they can conduct comparative analyses against their peers, reinforcing their competitive edge.
As part of Leopard Solutions’ ongoing commitment to spotlighting diversity within the legal industry, we recently lead a discussion at a Women in Law seminar, whereby over 60 mid level associates congregated to share ideas on how we can foster a better workplace through gender equality.