27 March 2019

In house leaders write to their law firms

European in-house leaders from major corporates pen letter urging law firms to improve diversity efforts, follows on from US january letter.

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A collective of general counsel has written an open letter to urge law firms to improve diversity. The collective of 65 UK and European counsel signed letter, representing general counsel from the GC 100, the European GC association, and the Cac 40.

Contacting their law firms

The group, representing companies from across the UK and Europe, signed the letter in a collective call for improvement.  Among the legal leaders supporting the statement are Shell’s Donny Ching, Vodafone’s Rosemary Martin, Unilever’s Ritva Sotamaa, Anglo American’s Richard Price and BHP Billiton’s Caroline Cox. The statement asserted, ‘we commit to promoting diversity in the workplace. We value the range of perspectives, ideas and experiences that diversity provides, whether grounded in gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, cultural background, religion or age. We will therefore encourage greater diversity and inclusion in our businesses and co-operate to foster these same values throughout the legal profession and the broader business community.’ The various signatories are now in the process of contacting their respective partner law firms to encourage conversations on diversity, in what is portrayed a s a collaborative approach to change.

Follows US letter

This European in-house campaign follows a January open letter from over 170 US general counsel demanding a greater private practice diversity focus. That letter included the in-house legal leaders from Indiegogo, Lyft and Toshiba America Electronic Components, and stated ‘we expect the outside law firms we retain to reflect the diversity of the legal community and the companies and the customers we serve.’ That letter noted firms had made efforts, but ‘at the same time, we are disappointed to see that many law firms continue to promote partner classes that in no way reflect the demographic composition of entering associate classes.’

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