February 22, 2017 Articles

The Power of Partnering: Guidelines for Diverse Collaborations among NAMWOLF and Majority Law Firms

By Stephanie A. Scharf, N. Nate Saint Victor, and Antonio C. Castro

For many corporations, diversifying outside counsel teams has become a priority. That goal, however, quickly meets up with the reality that to obtain the services of senior women and minority lawyers, companies will need to do more than hire Big Law firms. Big Law has not yielded the number of experienced diverse lawyers that corporations are looking for—and will not anytime soon. Indeed, if firms continue to grow their women and minority equity partnership ranks at the current rate of 1 percent a year, it will take until 2045 for firms to reach gender parity at the equity level—and longer to reach parity based on race and national origin. Nat'l Ass'n of Women Lawyers, Report of the Ninth Annual NAWL Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women at Law Firms (2015).

One potential solution is increased use of firms that are members of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), a number of which are led and largely staffed by former Big Law partners, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, federal court clerks, and high-level members of corporate law departments. Their credentials, experience, judgment, and ability certainly rival those of partners in majority firms.

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