According to Law360’s 2021 Glass Ceiling Report, emerging law firms – those with 100 attorneys are less – routinely outpace their big law counterparts when it comes to the proportion of women in partnership, both equity and nonequity. Further, data from the same survey suggests women are more likely to make partner earlier in their careers if they work for a smaller firm as opposed to a larger firm.
Emerging firms can often be more agile and flexible partners for their clients than the large firms that have long dominated the industry. Smaller firms, with their nimble nature and values-driven approach, are paving the way for a new industry standard, one that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion and disrupts the notion that attorneys must choose between challenging work and maintaining a high job “happiness” quotient.
That was just one key takeaway from the 2021 Women, Influence & Power in Law Conference in Washington D. C. this month. The roundtable discussion hosted by Croke Fairchild Co-founder and Partner Jessica Fairchild, Partner and Chair of Litigation Robin Letchinger, and General Counsel of LogicGate Sara Haven, unpacked the benefits of partnering with emerging law firms, and the value those partnerships can create for in-house counsel.
Fueled by ESG commitments, public and private companies alike are increasingly committed to working with vendors, suppliers, and partners whose values mirror their own. More often than not, those values are found in emerging law firms.
Beyond a commitment to diversity, emerging firms are more likely to offer partnership without judgement, making themselves available for questions, guidance, and strategic support on a number of issues. Attorneys in more flexible firm environments often are encouraged to be collaborative, working with their in-house clients to solve problems, support non-traditional projects, and think strategically about future opportunities.
And while many attorneys are intellectually curious, not every firm provides the runway to exercise that curiosity. But a curious approach to a legal department’s opportunities and challenges can help move it from a cost center to a profit center.
Most in-house counsel would agree that legal skill, confidence, and a strong track record of success are key when selecting an outside counsel. We also argue that a view to a long-term partnership, being a trust advisor and a having in-depth knowledge of the businesses outside counsel serve belong on that list. And with an emerging firm, companies can have it all.
For more information about the benefits of partnering with an emerging firm, please reach out to Jessica Fairchild or Robin Letchinger.