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February 2008 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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Diversity Initiative 2008: Locating Minority- and Women-Owned Law Firms Serving Corporate America

A prime goal for many legal leaders involved with corporate business is to employ a cadre of diverse attorneys in charge of developing solutions to legal problems.  The general counsels who share this goal actively strive to hire and maintain a diverse in-house legal staff, while also encouraging outside law firms with whom they do business to follow in kind.  Unfortunately and despite all efforts, the segment of the legal profession offering these diverse talents continues to have difficulty attracting work from larger corporations. 

Although some legal departments - such as those found within the ranks of DuPont Company, General Motors, Sara Lee Corporation, Shell Oil Company, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. - have long since maintained a roster of minority-owned firms to which they routinely send legal work, other corporate legal departments are not as fortunate.  Moreover, many are not even aware of the existence of these firms or the solid legal work of which they are capable and routinely handle.

During 2005, in response to the dearth of general knowledge regarding the existence of minority-owned law firms, the legal departments of these five leading American corporations (DuPont, General Motors, Sara Lee Corporation, Shell Oil Company and Wal-Mart) began an initiative whose goal was to promote the increased use of minority-owned law firms by corporations needing outside counsel. 

This initiative has as its centerpiece a web site, www.minorityandwomenlawfirms.com (operational in mid-March), which will catalogue the many U.S. minority-owned law firms.  A majority of those firms have already been employed by DuPont, Shell, Wal-Mart and other legal departments.  

The site has been designed in a user-friendly fashion, focusing on each firm’s geographic location and specialization.  An interactive map of the U.S. organizes the many firms into regions, making it possible to find local minority-owned legal establishments.  Additionally, the specialized legal practice areas of each firm will be easily discernable, and each listing will provide contact information so that counsel can reach specific attorneys.

The legal leaders of these corporations and the MCCA urge any and all in-house counsel to discover the advantages, talents, and value that these minority-owned firms offer to the entire corporate legal community.  We hope that all come to depend on this efficient web-based search engine.

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