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UK Model Diversity Survey

UK Model Diversity Survey

32 law firms have signed up to a major new diversity data collection exercise, aimed at increasing openness, transparency and accountability around diversity, inclusion, and culture in the UK legal profession. The group includes Linklaters, the first ‘Magic Circle’ law firm to commit to offering its clients access to more sophisticated diversity metrics.

The 32 ‘Foundation Law Firm Participants’ have joined the InterLaw Diversity Forum’s inaugural UK Model Diversity Survey (UK MDS), which aims to become the single accepted standard for all UK law firms to provide diversity data to their clients.

The law firms are joined by 34 corporate and financial institution clients who have become ‘UK MDS Foundation Client Signatories’ in the first year of the survey; these include HSBC, Google and BT. [See the complete list at end of release]

Daniel Winterfeldt MBE QC (Hon), Founder and Chair of the InterLaw Diversity Forum and Managing Director and General Counsel for EMEA & Asia at Jefferies, said:

“The participating law firms are making a solid commitment to increasing transparency around diversity data and opening the door for more authentic dialogue and collaboration between clients and their panel firms about challenges they may face around diversity, inclusion, and culture.”

“As the focus on diversity has grown across the profession, law firms have seen increased interest and scrutiny from clients around their diversity efforts. The detail of the survey allows clients to see beyond basic diversity data into the inclusion and culture of firms, helping them identify where to make targeted interventions to make progress in this space. The Model Diversity Survey requires firms to share data with clients that may be challenging, but I believe this level of openness will provide a baseline from which to build and is crucial to accelerate progress.”

Banke Odunaike, Head of EMEA Legal (Advisory) at the commercial real estate services and investments giant CBRE, said:

“These 32 Foundation Law Firm Participants should be celebrated for joining this movement and driving the industry forward by increasing transparency around the state of diversity in the legal profession.”

The UK MDS intends to disrupt and reinvent the legal industry’s approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by:

• Increasing the level of focus on reliable and meaningful data.
• Encouraging an open dialogue around diversity shortfalls as well as successes; and
• Providing a means to increase trust and accountability between law firms and their corporate and financial institution clients.

In turn, the InterLaw Diversity Forum hopes the survey will provide a solution to the resource intensive process of reporting diversity data (in multiple ways, to multiple clients) for firms while providing a robust and consistent method of diversity data collection for in-house teams. The UK MDS will give clients access to intersectional data (for ethnic origin and gender) for the first time. Winterfeldt said:

“I appreciate this aspect of the survey is an area some firms have found challenging. Most of the firms we have spoken with have not previously included intersectionality as part of their own data monitoring. But I believe that progress will not come without a willingness to confront, at times, what may be some uncomfortable realities.”

“The Career Progression in the Legal Sector research report published by the InterLaw Diversity Forum has shown clear trends relating to intersectionality in attrition, progression, and pay. Without reviewing data through an intersectional lens, we risk overlooking essential issues, such as the intersection of ethnic origin and gender in the UK.”

“We hope many more firms will come on board for next year’s iteration of the survey. We are excited about the prospect of growing our group of Law Firm Participants and our Client Signatories.”

The UK MDS has been adapted from the American Bar Association’s Model Diversity Survey (ABA MDS) in the United States, which is now in its fifth year. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) configures and administrates the platform for both the ABA MDS and the UK MDS.

For more information see The Lawyer