Follow us:

Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 21, 2008 at 1:39 PM

Microsoft paying diversity bonus to lawyers

This ought to be interesting in Seattle, where practically every other lawyer has done work for Microsoft.

The company today announced a new program to encourage diversity in the legal profession by offering bonuses to its law firms that reach diversity goals.

It’s only available to the bigger firms representing Microsoft, though — the 17 “premier preferred provider” firms doing at least $150 million a year worth of work for the company.

“We believe that diversity in our legal teams is a business necessity,” General Counsel Brad Smith said in the announcement. “We cannot be effective if we cannot understand and appreciate the interests and needs of the incredibly diverse individuals who make up our stakeholder groups.”

If the firms make targets set by Microsoft, they’ll be eligible for quarterly or annual bonuses of up to 2 percent.

Here’s how Mary Snapp, deputy general counsel, explained the targets, in the press material:

We created two alternative diversity goals, and each firm can choose which goal it wishes to use. The first is a 2 percent increase in the hours worked by U.S.-based diverse attorneys as a percentage of total hours worked on Microsoft matters, compared with the same time period last year. The second goal is a 0.5 percent increase in the total number of U.S.-based diverse attorneys employed by the firm.

Microsoft’s internal legal group is pretty diverse. About 44 percent of the senior attorneys are women or minorities. Among the rest of the legal team; they number 50 percent.

To push things further, Smith also announced that 5 percent of the annual bonuses received by top managers in the legal group will be based on the outside firms’ progress in the diversity program.

For a next step, they ought to lower the threshold so more firms could participate.

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►