In response to a 2008 study done by The Legal Intelligencer that uncovered the lack of diversity at plaintiffs firms in Pennsylvania, PAJ past President Tim Riley and Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association past President Mark Tanner laid out a detailed action plan set on correcting the Legal’s eye-opening findings:
Best Practices for Diversity Hiring In April 2008, the Pennsylvania Association for Justice together with the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association developed “Best Practices in Diversity Hiring and Retention for Plaintiffs’ Firms". This guide does not purport to be exhaustive of all best practices to attain diversity in plaintiffs’ law firms. Rather, it strives to serve as a resource for law firms to design tailor-made diversity plans that best fit their unique organizational structures.
Resolve to Diversity Hiring Both organizations’ have passed resolutions calling for members to redouble their commitment to diversity hiring. To view PAJ's Resolution on Diversity, click here. A mandate of each organization’s diversity committees directs members to develop and implement a comprehensive plan with reporting to each respective boards of governors throughout the year on a regular basis. PAJ will perform a survey of plaintiffs firms on a periodic basis to determine what success has been made.
PAJ is in the process of rebuilding its Diversity Committee with new members who can think creatively about ways to meet this challenge. PAJ is inviting people—not just members and not solely attorneys—from diverse communities around the state to help in this effort.
Best Practices Towards Success It is important that the Diversity Committees develop a series of best practices for law firms to adopt and guide them in meeting this challenge.
Starting with Law Students Both organizations need to reach out to law schools in and around Pennsylvania. Members have to renew relationships with their law schools and create or identify forums and activities where they tell the story of what they do as trial attorneys. Such forums and activities could include job fairs, participating in trial advocacy programs, providing law school websites with information of noteworthy trials around the state that they can attend or events created on campus.
Model for Intern Programs Typically, plaintiffs firms do not have intern programs and most do not hire right out of law school. Each organization will provide member firms with a model for developing an intern program tailored to plaintiffs firms’ needs and capacities.
Reaching Out to Minority Legal Organizations Both organizations have been and will continue to reach out to the minority and ethnic bar associations and ask for their assistance with this important initiative. Similarly, members must be encouraged to get more involved with minority bar associations and seek leadership positions in them.
Role Models in Educational Programs Both organizations are committed to making their best efforts to include minority attorneys in the educational programs that run at PAJ. If young attorneys see role models from their own communities speaking with authority at these programs, they will see that plaintiffs’ work is something to emulate.