This is a particularly well thought through new policy from the General Counsel of Microsoft. It recognises that, at entry level, there's a reasonably good proportion of young lawyers from non-traditional backgrounds but that that falls away dramatically so that the percentages of BigLaw partners from diverse backgrounds are very low. It addresses this problem by incentivising BigLaw through bonuses related to diversity of partner level lawyers. I like that Microsoft are taking a positive bonus awarding approach to encourage high diversity rather than an approach that 'punishes' low diversity law firms. I'd love to see more FTSE100 companies in the UK taking this kind of approach.
With the new focus on leadership, each of the 15 preferred law firms that works with Microsoft will receive points for diversity in three areas: 1. In partnerships or management committee. 2. In Microsoft relationship partnerships. 3. In partner hours spent on Microsoft legal matters. In addition, Microsoft will pay the highest-scoring firm an added 1 percent, for a total bonus of 3 percent, and will publicly recognize this firm for its efforts in strengthening diversity. The GC said he expects to pay out about $3 million in bonuses under the new program. Smith explained that Microsoft defines “diverse” as attorneys who are female, racial and ethnic minorities, openly gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender, disabled or military veterans.