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Microsoft's Lawyer Diversity Program Is a Success

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 25, 2016 5:57 AM

As the first black president, who is also a lawyer, exits the White House, another leader is working to ensure that minorities continue to move up the ranks in law firms across the nation.

Microsoft, which created a program to increase diversity in the law firms it retains, has announced measurable success at the end of the program's inaugural year. According to the company, its law firms have increased diversity representation in management committees by more than three percent and partnership composition by more than one percent.

More Is More

"We believe that the legal profession should be as diverse as the nation it serves, and that should be true of leaders in the profession as well," said David Howard, deputy general counsel of litigation, competition law, and compliance.

Microsoft incentivised law firms to increase diversity by offering bonuses to those who showed progress in three areas: firm leadership; partners working with Microsoft; and attorneys working on company matters. Through a point system for improvement, a participating law firm could earn up to a three percent bonus. The software giant also recognized the successful law firms in its online publication, lauding them for increasing diversity in all three areas of the program.

A Microsoft Touch

"I want to particularly recognize the work of K&L Gates, Orrick and Perkins Coie," Howard said. K&L, for example, more than doubled the number of women on the firm's management committee. In one instance, a female lawyer in one of its largest offices was named managing partner of that office and elected to the firm's management committee -- while she was on maternity leave.

Microsoft also reported that the in-house legal team has increased its minority numbers. Howard said that diversity has helped the company in litigating in many jurisdictions and in launching global products.

This diversity success story from Microsoft is only one of the many success stories we've seen in the law in recent years.

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