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Public Perception: Law Firms Rank Last in Commitment to Diversity

The public believes strongly that a diverse workforce is highly beneficial for a law firm's business prospects.

Americans perceive law firms behind other industries in hiring and retention practices 

Washington, D.C. - Among 11 major industries, law firms are perceived to have the lowest commitment to diversity when it comes to hiring and retention. According to a survey undertaken by leading strategic and research experts McGinn and Company and Repass Research, law firms rank last in these practices in a poll of Americans nationwide.

A wake-up call

“This should be a wake-up call for the legal profession. The public simply doesn't believe that law firms care much about diversity,” said Dan McGinn of McGinn and Company who collaborated on this poll. “Expectations are rising in this arena and the legal profession needs to move from laggard to leader.”

Respondents were asked to rate 11 industries on whether they are more or less committed than average to diversity.  Higher education led the list with a net plus 43 score.  Law firms came in last with a net minus 1 score.

Despite the legal industry's poor perception, the public believes strongly that a diverse workforce is highly beneficial for a law firm's business prospects.  Sixty-two percent of respondents to the survey said that a law firm that is committed to diversity will be more successful attracting clients.

Diversity bring success

Public perception of diversity as a positive factor across industries is even higher.  According to lead researcher Rex Repass, “These results show that nearly three-fourths of Americans (71%) believe organizations with a diverse workforce are more successful than organizations that do not have a diverse workforce.”

Key Findings (industries ranked by largest percent above average to lowest percent below average for perceived commitment to diversity):

  • Higher Ed        +43
  • Healthcare        +35
  • Restaurants       +34
  • Hotels               +33
  • Government      +29
  • Manufacturing  +29
  • Media                +24
  • Entertainment    +23
  • Finance              +9
  • Accounting        +5
  • Law firms           -1

McGinn and Company is one of the nation’s leading reputation management firms with more than 35 years of experience.  Founder and CEO Dan McGinn has advised more than 40% of Fortune 100 companies, including General Electric, IBM, 3M, General Motors, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Merck, Dell, and Nestle.  Based in Arlington, Virginia, Dan and his team have worked with corporate general counsel, university presidents, and government officials on some of their most complex and high profile issues. 

The survey was conducted for McGinn and Company by Repass Research.  The 1,156 respondents that completed the survey were sourced from an online double opt-in panel of adults age 18 and over in the U.S.  Data was collected March 3-9, 2016.  The final results were weighted based on gender, age, race, and household income to be representative of the U.S. population.  When using online panel for data collection, it is not appropriate to apply a probability-based margin of error to interviews completed.  However, with a total of 1,156 completed interviews weighted to gender, age, race, ethnicity and household income, statistical tests of significance may be conducted for each question asked, which yields an overall statistical error of approximately +/- 3.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. 

For further information contact: Stephanie Lowet,  or (301) 537-5556.


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