Interlaw Diversity Forum Diverse-Owned Legal Suppliers
The InterLaw Diversity Forum will offer innovative bolt-ons and additions to the UK MDS to support driving improvements in diversity and inclusion and social mobility across the profession.
The UK MDS can be used by client signatories to evaluate their current legal service providers around their hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse and socially mobile talent; as well to evaluate potential legal service suppliers during the procurement process. Diversifying your supply chain by purchasing legal services from diverse-owned boutiques or newly established firms, however, remains a difficult challenge.
Our research has shown that diverse and socially mobile talent in the legal sector face structural inequalities. These barriers are greatest at law firms. As a result, many highly skilled diverse and socially mobile practitioners either move to in-house roles or launch their own law firms or legal supply companies.
Although there are other diverse supplier initiatives in the United Kingdom, these have gained less traction across legal services when compared with the United States. With the collaboration and support of the US-based NAMWOLF (National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms), we have based the IDOLS initiative on NAMWOLF’s highly successful model. IDOLS is designed specifically for the legal profession and works hand in hand with the UK MDS to make diverse purchasing easier and more transparent.
Our model differs slightly from the NAMWOLF model in that we will extend beyond legal services suppliers and also include legal tech and consultants who provide other services to the legal sector (e.g. training, communications, etc.).This expanded scope will also enable medium and large law firms who are participants in the UK MDS to improve their own supplier diversity chain as part of the programme.
IDOLS will both certify the ownership of these legal suppliers, as well as vet the quality of their services. This is another important way to drive greater diversity in your organisations own supply chain. A directory of these certified suppliers will be publicly available at no cost.