7.30.2006

Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes

As promised, a post about the dreadfully slow changes just on the horizon for lawyers seeking a reasonable balance between work and life.

As reported here, Reed-Smith, that monstrous BigLaw firm, launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging women's careers--just one day after sending Denise Howell of the Bag and Baggage blog, packing:
The series of workshops is a concept which was launched in the US and aimed at supporting women’s careers at the firm. The workshops, run in conjunction with non-profit diversity consultants Catalyst, provide a forum for female lawyers to discuss their careers.

UK partner Alison Dennis commented: “Central management wants this to happen and has provided a very big budget to make it happen.
She said the firm was committed to assisting working mothers progress up the career ladder, adding that she had worked part-time at the firm for five years and was made up to the partnership since she started working part-time.
Talk about fortuitous timing!

And, Reed-Smith isn't the first large firm to jump on the bandwagon. Others are doing it as well, since it appears that some large clients are now demanding diversity, not the least of which is that bohemith Wal-Mart:
Last year Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it would begin requiring law firms to demonstrate substantial commitments to diversity shortly before it fired a firm for having too few minorities in leadership positions. But the push for more diversity didn't start with Wal-Mart, says Janet Conley, managing editor of GCSouth magazine, an Atlanta-based trade publication for in-house counsel in the Southeast.

Conley credits Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp. for being among the first to demand accountability from law firms on diversity when BellSouth's former general counsel Charles Morgan came up with a 'Statement of Principle' for Fortune 500 and other large companies to sign.

More than 300 companies have since signed the statement, including local heavyweights like FedEx Corp., and Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Co.

"That essentially was saying the biggest companies in America wanted more diversity," Conley said. "They're looking closely now. They don't want to see window dressing -- they want to see minorities having more prominent roles on cases and within the leadership of their firms."
So, it would seem that the times they are a-changing. But, not quick enough for me.

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