Law Practice Magazine

Law Practice Magazine Logo


 Table of Contents

June 2008 Issue | Volume 34 Number 4| Page 53

Flawed Tradition

Wal-Mart Counsel Miguel Rivera on Challenging the Failing Law Firm Business Model

Few law firms rank higher for diversity accomplishments than Los Angeles-based Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. The 1,200-plus-lawyer partnership is rated sixth in the nation on the diversity scorecard. (See page 52.) While many are responsible for this success—including the firm’s leaders—Anton Mack deserves a lot of the credit.

As the firm’s managing director of diversity and global talent since 2006, Mack has used his rich recruiting experience and close working relationships with those both inside and outside the partnership to become one of the first names people think of when they consider law firm diversity.

In 2001, when Paul Hastings needed someone with strategic vision to fill its top recruitment position, it turned to Mack, who had been the dean of admissions at LA’s Loyola Law School. This was a step outside the norm, as most firms at that time hired recruiters with law firm experience, usually someone from within their own offices.

Clearly, the firm valued Mack’s background outside the private-practice environment as well as his law school relationships. “There certainly are advantages in coming from the outside,” he says. “One is innovation. If you want to be competitive in terms of recruitment, often you have to bring new ideas and strategies. A few ways to do that are to leverage what’s going on in other professional services firms, have an insight into legal education and student needs, and have close contact with faculty, deans and officers at law schools.”

Mack’s resume included all of the above. He has since groomed relationships with as many people as possible, both as the firm’s managing director of recruitment and now as the diversity director.

He says that developing and maintaining these personal connections-—first and foremost with the firm leaders and senior partners—is the key to diversity success.

“I have fantastic relationships with the directors of recruiting, professional development and business development and with the chief human resources officer,” he says. “A strong working dynamic with all of those departments is essential. And, I do maintain my law school relationships; it’s critically important to stay abreast of the changing generations, trends and needs.”

Indeed, while managing director of recruitment, he played a key role in doubling the percentage of diversity representation in the firm’s new associates and summer associates, as well as in establishing alliance programs with more than 20 law schools.

Those who serve as diversity directors must also be of a certain mind-set: You have to be flexible and willing to learn. “You can’t be rigid or myopic,” Mack says. “Before I came to Los Angeles, I was in Baltimore, where the diversity mix is dramatically different. That is, I came to a law school that had two times the number of Asian-Americans than any law school in the country. It was an interesting experience and I had a whole lot of learning to do.”

It seems Mack’s a fast learner. And given Paul Hastings’ strong track record in diversity, he’s no doubt very adept at helping others learn, too. Certainly, he knows exactly what his and his firm’s mission is. “Diversity is not a social experiment for us,” he says. “It’s about business success, skill and talent for all the attorneys in our firm.”

About the Author

Kathleen Nalty is Executive Director of the Colorado Campaign for Inclusive Excellence. Formerly a federal civil rights prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice, she also helped found the Colorado Lawyers’ Committee’s Hate Violence Task Force and worked at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where she specialized in diversity programs.