Schwabe’s Lisa Schaures on Business Models and Diversity
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As midsize firms deal with the challenges of increased competition, new pressures from clients and a call for greater diversity in the profession, is there any piece of the law firm business model you think must change? What is it?
Even with the growing momentum to increase gender diversity on corporate boards, a majority of law firms and companies across the United States don’t have leadership that reflects their employees and clients. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that women hold just 20% of seats on corporate boards for U.S. publicly traded companies. Similarly, a recent ABA survey shows that women make up only 20% of partners in the legal profession.
When I was elected to Schwabe’s Board of Directors, we became one of a few law firms in the Pacific Northwest where women make up the majority of board members. I’m also proud to work for a firm led by an innovative Latina and guided by a talented leadership team that’s 75% women.
The question is, how do we change the law firm business model to achieve long-lasting equity and inclusion for women and diverse attorneys in the partner and leadership ranks? Equity and inclusion don’t happen by chance. Law firm leaders need to consider if decision-making is performed with an equity and inclusion lens and evaluate the pathway to becoming a partner and leader at their firm, working to ensure opportunities for underrepresented attorneys to fill seats.
For Schwabe, this groundwork was laid decades ago by leaders who believed that diversity and inclusion bring improved business results that benefit their people and clients. Now, we’re reaping the benefits that diversity of thought brings.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, is a firm of more than 170 attorneys across eight offices. Lisa Schaures is board member at the firm, and a shareholder practicing in the healthcare and life sciences, natural resources, and technology industry groups.
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