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Jenner & Block joined other leading law firms and legal departments of top companies for Diversity Lab’s 2018 Diversity in Law Hackathon. The Shark Tank style pitch competition – aimed at generating innovative ideas for boosting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession – combined 63 high-level law firm partners and corporate legal department leaders, ten expert advisors and students from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and UC Hastings College of the Law into ten teams. After spending two months learning more about topics such as unconscious bias and receiving training on design-thinking and team dynamics, the teams brainstormed solutions for almost three months and presented their needle-moving ideas to a panel of distinguished judges in a pitch event at UC Hastings College of the Law in November 2018.
Partner Marc A. Van Allen was one of 63 industry leaders participating in the Fall series and served as the firm’s representative for the Hackathon. His team tied for “Crowd Favorite” for its proposal called the “Inclusion Rider.” The model is designed to serve as a standard addendum to corporate legal department requests for proposals to law firms. It is described as an approach for law firms and legal departments to evaluate firms’ D&I outcomes to promote better decision-making in lawyer selections at the outset of the bidding process for new work. The Inclusion Rider allows for comparison among firms while incentivizing them to make improvements in their D&I efforts with every RFP submission. In-house counsel will be encouraged to ask for the Inclusion Rider from firms that don’t proactively provide it and will be “certified” for utilization. The Inclusion Rider is completed repeatedly at the RFP stage with the most current information and includes specific matter staffing information, a deep dive into actions that firms are taking to support and improve inclusion beyond mere diversity statistics and requires review by the proposing partner and leadership. This solution also allows clients to include their own D&I targets, and allows for real-time, online access to the data to monitor improvements.
Last year, Jenner & Block was among 30 leading law firms that piloted the Mansfield Rule, one of the winning ideas that came out of the 2016 Women in Law Hackathon, hosted by Diversity Lab with Bloomberg Law and Stanford Law School. The firms participation in the Mansfield Rule followed its participation in the 2016 inaugural Hackathon, in which our team won first place for its proposal of a gender-neutral compensation model titled SMART (Solutions to Measure, Advance and Reward Talent).