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Editor: Paul L. Caron
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Facebook Demands That Its Outside Law Firms Meet 33% Diversity Target That Facebook Does Not Meet

FacebookNew York Times, Facebook Pushes Outside Law Firms to Become More Diverse:

Like other Silicon Valley giants, Facebook has faced criticism over whether its work force and board are too white and too male. Last year, the social media behemoth started a new push on diversity in hiring and retention.

Now, it is extending its efforts into another corner: the outside lawyers who represent the company in legal matters.

Facebook is requiring that women and ethnic minorities account for at least 33 percent of law firm teams working on its matters.

Numbers alone, however, are not enough, under a policy that went in effect on Saturday. Law firms must also show that they “actively identify and create clear and measurable leadership opportunities for women and minorities” when they represent the company in litigation and other legal matters. ...

For Facebook, the move on outside lawyers is happening even as the company’s efforts at improving diversity in its own work force have so far shown little progress.

According to statistics released last year, blacks and Hispanics last July accounted for only 3 percent each of senior leadership, and women made up an additional 27 percent. Hiring for the 12 months beginning with July 2015 showed something of an improvement: Of those newly recruited to senior leadership posts, 9 percent were black, 5 percent were Hispanic and 29 percent were women. ...

And when it comes to improving diversity among its outside lawyers, Facebook is part of a growing trend. A number of general counsels across corporate America are pressing their outside firms to make their teams more diverse — in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and even disability — at all levels of seniority, not just among junior associates.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/04/facebook-demands-that-its-outside-law-firms-meet-33-diversity-target-that-facebook-does-not-meet-.html

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Comments

Not to be oppositional, but is one-third combined women and minorities that unreasonable? I don't like quotas, but as they go this is not terribly extreme.

Posted by: mike livingston | Apr 4, 2017 12:26:53 PM

Does this mean lawsuits against Facebook will start having a greater probability of success?

Actually, is it legal for a private company to refuse to deal with a law firm on the grounds of the race of its lawyers?

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Apr 5, 2017 9:40:53 AM

I think getting the female portion should be relatively easy, since law schools at all levels seem to be full of women. I wouldn't bet on HYS being anything close to 1/3rd "ethnic minority" (I assume they mean black/hispanic, not asian/jewish) though.

The requirement should be relatively easy to meet, with the legal job market being what it is. You can probably get bulk lawyers in a color/gender of your choice for 30-40k a year. You don't even have to get them offices, just set up a few tables in the sub-basement and assign them to discovery related doc review. It's even "litigation related" work.

Posted by: Jim W | Apr 5, 2017 9:45:57 AM

Mike, 1/3 was the opening gambit, you don't think it's actually going to stop there do you?

Posted by: John Doe | Apr 5, 2017 9:53:47 AM

I think that beyond a certain point, it's kind of silly for clients to be dictating to firms who they should promote to partner, etc. I have a feeling they'll settle for something like hiring a ton of junior doc review attorneys to fluff their overall numbers while putting a few favored candidates on "partner track" positions that are always asymptotically approaching partnership without actually becoming partner.

Even without Facebook's interference, are massive numbers of white male associates making partner these days? I'm doubtful.

Posted by: Jim W | Apr 5, 2017 10:00:10 AM

Probably hiring people by any standard other than merit is always a bad idea.

Posted by: Alan | Apr 5, 2017 11:02:18 AM

The following comes from a press report. It indicates that Facebook's workforce in 2014 was 57% white, thus 43% non-white, and 31% male. In my view this shows the headline to be incorrect; Facebook does meet its 33% target. http://media.syracuse.com/opinion_impact/photo/15472742-large.png

Posted by: Flavio Rose | Apr 5, 2017 12:37:43 PM

If I was hiring a lawyer, I would go for the best one without regard to sex or race. I would hope my opponent was interested
in a firm seeking diversity!

Posted by: Greg | Apr 5, 2017 3:56:49 PM

Flavio, there are minorities and there are minorities. Anyone familiar with tech knows that Asians are grossly overrepresented among programmers and other technical types, to the extent that whites are actually underrepresented there, just like blacks and Hispanics. One very well known Silicon Valley company has ended interviews at all CA universities other than Stanford. I don't think it's because MIT and Carnegie Mellon are chock full of black and Hispanic computer science grads.

Posted by: PaulB | Apr 5, 2017 6:55:28 PM

Flavio, you didn't get the memo. Asians are taking advantage of white privilege and the patriarchal superstructure and hence don't count as minorities. Neither do Armenians, jews, other similarily situated groups for similar reasons.

The coded speech here is clearly referring to the oppressed. I hope Facebook also mandates 15% trans lawyers and 10% differently abled lawyers.

Posted by: Bobby | Apr 6, 2017 7:33:31 AM

So jews are an ethnic minority in the US. Ad in 2020 whites will be a minoirty. What gives?

Posted by: buckwheat | Apr 6, 2017 9:33:22 AM