IILP's "Diverse Outside Counsel Survey measured the use of diverse outside counsel by

corporate clients. Read the report here.

The General Counsel Open Letter 

In January of 2019, 170 general counsel and corporate legal officers signed an open letter to big law firms, lamenting new partner classes that “remain largely male and largely white.” The letter says their companies will prioritize their legal spend on those firms that commit to diversity and inclusion.

The letter has been signed by chief legal officers in a variety of industries, including those in technology, retail, media, hospitality and financial services. The companies range from small tech outfits to large corporations, such as Google Fiber, Etsy, Heineken USA, Chobani Global Holdings, Waymo, Lyft, Vox Media, S&P Global Ratings and Booz Allen Hamilton. (ALM Media’s general counsel is also among the signatories.)

“We, as a group, will direct our substantial outside counsel spend to those law firms that manifest results with respect to diversity and inclusion, in addition to providing the highest degree of quality representation. We sincerely hope that you and your firm will be among those that demonstrate this commitment,” reads the letter.

Read the entire letter here

The Response

Law firms and partners have responded to this open letter. One such response by Don Prophete challenges the letter and states: "So, what am I really saying? Stated in simple English, these signatory letters have been more public relations than actual practice. Except for a handful of GCs, signing on to these letters is a politically necessary thing to do, which ultimately requires zero accountability."

Read Prophete's entire essay here

Where IILP Steps In

    With this discussion in mind, IILP’s Chair Emeritus, Marc Firestone, President, External Affairs and General Counsel at Philip Morris International (Ret.), penned an open letter announcing the launch of a new survey tool designed to help general counsel interested in seeing greater diversity among their outside counsel.

    IILP’s “Diverse Outside Counsel Survey – 2019” will allow corporate clients a chance to see how their use of diverse outside counsel compares to others. While individual corporate responses will be confidential and all responses will only be reported in the aggregate, the results from this survey will increase the level of transparency regarding the actual use of diverse outside counsel by corporate clients. 

    IILP’s open letter is attached below. Please share it with any corporate general counsel you know who might be willing to help the legal profession move the D&I needle and encourage them to participate in the survey. With this tool, the legal profession has an opportunity to increase its level of knowledge about the use of diverse outside counsel by corporate clients.

    Read IILP's open letter here

    The survey will be open through the summer and IILP plans to issue a report summarizing the findings. Please email info@theiilp.com to receive the survey link or if you have any questions. 

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