Most law firms are struggling when it comes to diversity and inclusion. There are fewer women in law firms compared to men. The majority of lawyers—81%—are White, despite White people making up only about 65% of the law school population. Lawyers of color remain underrepresented with the historic high being only 28.32%. By comparison, 13.4% of the United States population is Black and 5.9% is Asian. The biases that perpetuate this lack of diversity in law firms begin during the hiring process and extend to associate retainment. For example, an applicant’s resume reveals a lot, including the prestige of the law school they attend (which can create inferences about their socioeconomic status); their class status, depending on extracurricular activities (i.e., playing polo v. interning with a dentist); or their gender, based on their name or other details. Continuing to depend on these biases is detrimental to law firms for various reasons. They lead to the same demographics of hired candidates, to the exclusion of other diverse candidates. Clients also have been demanding their outside counsel to be diverse, or risk losing their business.
This paper recommends law firms seeking to address diversity and inclusion issues adopt artificial intelligence (“AI”) in the hiring and retention of lawyers. AI is a term that refers to computers that accomplish tasks that would ordinarily require human intelligence. While AI is being used in other legal tasks successfully to automate routine work and cut costs, there is an added benefit to using AI in hiring and recruiting: firms can remove human biases. This Note begins by first identifying the current lack of diversity in law firms and discussing how bias is a major contributing factor. Second, it will explain how clients are influencing outside counsel to have an increasingly diverse workforce. It will then propose AI as a beneficial solution that can help firms increase diversity and inclusion in both the hiring processes and retention efforts of attorneys while mitigating human biases. Specifically, this paper will discuss the advantages of AI as applied to resume screening, structured interviewing, fair performance management, and equal compensation systems. Finally, it will outline challenges to using AI and how firms can overcome them to use AI fairly and efficiently.
An Intelligent Path for Improving Diversity at Law Firms (Un)Artificially,
Mich. Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mtlr/vol29/iss2/5