To modify the quote from Field of Dreams, “ask for it, and they will come” applies to this week’s show as we mentioned the Bloomberg Law Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Framework survey a few weeks ago and suggested that they come on the show and talk more about it. Molly Huie from Bloomberg Law is running the survey and joins us this week to talk about what the mission of the survey is, and how it differs and supplements other surveys and certifications currently in the industry. The DEI Framework is Bloomberg’s effort at creating a benchmark for DEI results in the legal industry. With corporations asking law firms for their diversity statistics, the DEI Framework may work as a common metric between firms and clients. Huie discusses the nearly two-year process of pulling the survey together, their efforts to work with other DEI partners in the legal industry, and the process of how to score firms who submit data. While getting diversity statistics may be a challenge, Huie thinks that the DEI Framework will get firms to start collecting the data and measuring their success. Firms can use the contact form to request access to submit their data. The survey is open until the end of August.
Dechert is collaborating with Silicon Valley design firm Ideo to create a human-centered design approach for their new innovation program. With around 100 hours of training and projects lined up for the initial 40 participants, Dechert is looking for “real-life or business challenges” to solve.
The Utah Supreme Court expanded its regulatory sandbox to include legal advice on medical debt advice given by non-lawyers.
Michigan Legal Help is assisting in Access to Justice issues through DIY tool kits arranged by Michigan counties.
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Marlene Gebauer 0:25
Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 0:33
And I’m Greg Lambert. Well to modify the quote from Field of Dreams, “ask for it and they will come.” That really applies to this week’s episode, because a couple of weeks ago, we mentioned Bloomberg laws, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion framework or their dei framework, which is a survey they’re doing. And we had suggested that they come on the show and talk more about it. And Molly Huie from Bloomberg Law, who is actually running the survey, reached out and said, she’d be glad to be on the show. So she’s going to join us this week and talk about what the mission is of the survey, and how it differs and supplements, other surveys and certifications currently in the industry.
Marlene Gebauer 1:15
Well, you know, that’s really good to know that people are listening, when we talk.
Greg Lambert 1:22
I’ll stop looking at the stats.
Marlene Gebauer 1:26
So stick around for that interview. But now let’s get to this week’s information inspiration.
Greg Lambert 1:35
Well, I read this really interesting article from Reuters’ Jenna Green this morning, about dinovation Task Force, and their collaboration with a Silicon Valley design firm IDEO. So decherd is working on creating a human centered design approach to the innovation program that they develop. And they’re going to start with a 40 member team. The firm is around I think around 700 lawyers, and the inaugural program will run from June to November. It’s really interesting, because there’s going to be 48 hours of classroom instruction for this, plus an equal amount of independent project work for each of the members. So you know, nearly 100 hours of work for each of the members. And the the program itself is going to be divided into these four different parts. There’s a creative problem solving part long with a client centric service delivery part. And both of those are going to be online programs by IDEO. And then the last two is there’s an effective pricing and matter med management technique, and a digital literacy class, which both are going to be taught by guest lectures. The interesting part Marlene, is that the team members are expected to develop a creative solution to a real life client or business challenge. We’ll see how Decker does with this because you know, especially coming up with the you know, real life or business challenge to tackle is I think it could work if they have a real problem and work backwards to create a solution rather than what most of these programs do, which is come up with a really cool solution, and then reach out and try and seek the problems they can solve with that.
Marlene Gebauer 3:23
Well, I’ve been reading a lot about regulatory sandboxes lately. So Bob Ambrogi, has been covering this for a while now. And I’ve also been chatting with our friend, Cat Moon about it as well. And essentially what the sandboxes are are safe places in which to explore new methods of delivering legal services. And specifically the sandboxes are places where participants can look at how the existing system is hampering innovation, and how to make that innovation happen. Bob recently reported about results from Utah sandboxes that allow legal advice on medical debt to be given by non lawyers. The two programs are run by nonprofit groups and will train medical debt legal advocates to offer limited scope advice. I see this as similar to say a nurse practitioner in the medical field. And I think it’s a great idea to address a real life problem area that doesn’t really have a lot of legal support.
Greg Lambert 4:26
All right, Marlene. So here’s here’s a riddle for you. So what happens when you combine a collection of mini hackathons and the concept of Esports gaming?
Marlene Gebauer 4:39
Wow, I don’t know.
Greg Lambert 4:42
All right, time’s up. Like
Marlene Gebauer 4:43
You didn’t give me a chance.
Greg Lambert 4:47
What happens is you come up with something that NYU Law Professor Houman Shadab calls the No-Code Sports League the No Code Sports League. And these athletes compete in a live head to head competition and develop apps. And solutions in real time, real time, real time, real time. So there are four divisions that they compete in. If there’s the voice division, there’s data and AI, full stack and AR/VR divisions. And according to the website, the new code sports league, welcomes competitors of all skill levels to compete for cash and demonstrate their new code building skills. Sign up to create a new match to challenge the competitor of your choice. Once no code sports confirms your time slot, you’ll be good to get your game on a 24 hour voting period follows each match at which time the winner of the match is determined.
Marlene Gebauer 5:42
Sorry, are you practicing for the voice for the voice section?
Greg Lambert 5:51
Yeah, do you know what days these are on? Sunday, Sunday Sunday.
Marlene Gebauer 5:58
I might have to check out that voice one. So the group Michigan legal help is doing some great work in the access to justice space. They put together an online Do It Yourself toolkit arranged by county about how to ask for an accommodation needed for court. The site is broken down with subject links such as articles for general information, common questions, and those actually have dropdowns and a link for forms that you’ll need to fill out for the various county courts. They also have information on finding a lawyer and community services if you hit the hamburger menu, and by the way, I didn’t even know what a hamburger menu was until about two weeks ago. Yeah, they also have similar pages for things like money and debt and traffic crimes.
Greg Lambert 6:44
All right, well, that wraps up this week’s information inspirations.
Greg Lambert 6:52
Law firms are constantly asked to fill out surveys for clients to explain diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that are part of the firm’s overall DEI efforts. Today’s guest wants to unify these types of surveys and industry standards by creating a comprehensive survey that firms corporations, and the overall industry can rely upon to know which firms are making a passing grade when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Marlene Gebauer 7:20
We’d like to welcome Molly Huie, Team Lead Data Analysis and Surveys at Bloomberg Law. Molly, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Molly Huie 7:27
Thanks, happy to be here.
Greg Lambert 7:30
So we talked a couple of weeks ago about Bloomberg Law’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or DEI Framework. And, you know, we’re happy that you guys took us up on the offer to come on the show and talk more about the framework itself. Can you give us like a 30,000 foot overview of what the DEI Framework is? And why did you and the folks there at Bloomberg law decide to take this on?
Molly Huie 7:56
Great, that’s, that’s a great intro to the the elevator pitch of this project. We we’ve been thinking about this for 18 months, two years, almost of, we’re seeing a problem in the industry where when firms go to bid for business at corporations, they are handed the supplier diversity questionnaire, and especially the bigger firms, they’re getting dozens and dozens or even hundreds of these. And they’re all just a little bit different. So if we could come in and give more of a standardized instrument, firms could give us their diversity data, we could score it create a listing of firms that meet or exceed a standard and share that with corporations. So that that, you know, we’re not trying to supplant GC’s own efforts and doing their due diligence and picking firms that are diverse from that criteria. But if we can give them a starting place and say, hey, look, here are firms that you know, meet or exceed this level, that would fill a need in the industry.
Marlene Gebauer 8:49
So Molly, how does the DEI Framework compared to other projects out there like the Mansfield Rule, Inclusion Blueprint Score, or Edge Certification? What are you doing differently than what’s already out there?
Molly Huie 9:02
Well, I’m glad you asked that, I know that you’ve named some of the big ones in the field already. And these are our folks that we’ve talked to, to make sure that we’re asking the right questions, and we’re including things that are important. We also spend a lot of time talking to the ABA about their Model Diversity Survey, I see our DEI Framework as almost the flip side of the coin for them, because we’re including a lot of the same information. But whereas the Model Diversity Survey goes in with an anonymous promise, like they do a state of the industry report. And then corporate signatories can pay in to see some of the data. What we’re doing is saying, if you give us your data, and you make the grade, we’re going to publish it. And we want to celebrate firms that are doing it well. We want to put this out there. And I think by being not anonymous and public with it, we can really start with raising awareness and helping move the needle.
Greg Lambert 9:51
So the firms themselves if they do whatever the calculated score, is that passing or successful, then they can use this as a way of tooting their own horn or showing the industry that they have met the standards.
Molly Huie 10:08
Greg Lambert 10:09
How’s that differnt than say the Mansfield Rule itself?
Molly Huie 10:11
Mansfield Rule focuses on getting diverse candidates in the door. They focus on the slate of interview candidates and hiring a diverse group. Ours goes past that and talks about recruitment, retention leadership, top 10% most compensated attorneys, so we’re really focusing on growing attorneys through the practice area. Because we feel like a lot of people are able to get a diverse first year class in but can they keep them?
Greg Lambert 10:40
So is it going to be just another type of ranking system like the AmLaw100? Or say the US News and World Report’s law school ranking? Is it going to be a ranking style?
Molly Huie 10:52
it’s actually not going to be a ranking style. We’re going to set a standard line and anyone that meets or exceeds that standard? Will we publish, we’ll probably just do it alphabetically, so it’s easy to find. And we’ll give firms that make the listing a press kit, a seal of approval, they’ll be able to, like you said toot their own horn, and we will as well.
Greg Lambert 11:13
Okay. And if the firm’s say, don’t make the cut off, will you give them a list of things they can improve on?
Molly Huie 11:23
So here’s what we’re planning, every firm that submits data, we’re going to give them a scorecard. We’re going to say here are the major areas we ask questions in. And of depending on how the data shake out, we would love to say, you know, here’s what your score was in this area. And here’s the averages for the entire industry or for firms that kind of look like you from a demographic standpoint. We are not in the business of coaching people how to necessarily improve I would, I would point them toward organizations like Diversity Lab to say that these people can can help you do things like onramping programs or whatnot to improve, but we’re just telling you what the lay of the land looks like. But on that same note, we’re not in the business of negative news. So if you as a firm submit data and don’t make the listing, we’re going to give you a scorecard but we’re not going to tell anybody use submitted data.
Marlene Gebauer 12:11
There are a lot of questions in the survey, like 84 possible questions from my count. How did you come up with the questions and how are they split into overall categories
Molly Huie 12:21
There are a lot of questions. It’s a very comprehensive instrument. And that’s what we’re telling people as they look into it like we are covering everything. We talked to a lot of people in the DEI space as we were developing this, spent a lot of time working with ABA’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity Commission, and ended up getting a lot of the questions that have to do with just how many attorneys do you have that look like this? Those kinds of questions are all mirrored from the model diversity survey, which hopefully makes it a little easier for firms in filling it out that if they’ve already collected that data, they’re halfway there. The rest of the questions are easier to answer, because most of them are in a select one or select all that apply format. But what I was hearing from a lot of general counsel that we talked to is, it’s great to have the diversity numbers, but it’s very important to have the policies and procedures in place that will help retain and promote diverse attorneys. So making sure we’re asking about things like flex time and leave policies and alternative billing schedules, or even things like what other outside organizations the firm is promoting in the diversity space? These all feed into the categories. So we’ve got five major categories, we’re looking at leadership and talent pipelines, recruitment and retention, business innovation and strategy, bias and harassment training. And then the last catch all is the diverse brand. So what are they doing just kind of out there in the world?
Greg Lambert 13:51
So just curious, how long did it take you to come up with these 84 questions in these categories? And were there things that you’ve left out on this survey that may make it in on on a future survey?
Molly Huie 14:07
Yes. And it took us about a year to develop the questionnaire we worked, like I said, hard with ABA, but also with Bloomberg gender equity index team, and we took a lot of learnings from how they structured their questionnaire. One of the things that I wanted to include this year and didn’t was a measure of neurodiversity if firms are tracking that. And you know, I floated the idea and not a whole lot of people had heard of it when I started talking about it a year ago. And now all of the sudden and it’s in the news. So I would expect to be able to include even a are you measuring this kind of option about that in coming years?
Greg Lambert 14:41
Yeah, yeah. Many parents, like myself have heard of it.
Marlene Gebauer 14:46
Marlene Gebauer 14:50
Well, you kind of answered my my next question about whether this survey is going to be a one time thing, or if you’re going to continue it. So it sounds like you are going to continue it. So how often are you, are you wanting to continue the survey?
Molly Huie 15:04
I would love to do this as an annual effort. I feel like we’re getting started almost a little late in 2021. Asking folks to give us all their data from the 2020 year. So my hope is that we collect data all summer, we have a big celebration of firms that make the listing in Q4, which also ramps up for next year’s version. And so we let people close their books on 2021. And then in Q1 next year, we’ll say okay, now submit us that data, and we’ll will recertify firms every year,
Greg Lambert 15:36
and how are you asking the firms to submit the data? And what’s kind of the time frame? When did when do they need to get it in?
Molly Huie 15:43
We’re leaving the data collection open through the end of August this year, I have an online portal set up. So we have an external facing website that has all the the product, the project information, the FAQs, the link to the all the survey questions. And on there is a link to submit your data. And what that will take firms to is a contact form. So when you fill out a contact form, I’ll get an alert and then I’ll send a personalized link to our secure access portal. And then firms will be able to go in and out of that portal and put their data in through the end of August.
Greg Lambert 16:17
If they have questions, say they’re confused on some of that, do they reach out to you?
Molly Huie 16:22
They can reach out to me directly. Yep, they can reach out to me directly or we also have a DEI_Framework@BloombergIndustry.com that they can reach out to.
Greg Lambert 16:31
Oh, great, and you work with 20 hours a day for this?
Molly Huie 16:35
At least. And I am happily because I’m so excited about this project.
Greg Lambert 16:40
Great. Great. Well, you know, as I was looking through the the questions themselves, I mean, you’re asking for a lot of details that that I don’t think a lot of firms are necessarily asking their lawyers or staff currently. Such as racial identity, gender identity, LGBTQ+ status, if you’re a veteran, any of those. So how accurate Do you think the results can be given that there’s this potential limited data?
Molly Huie 17:10
First off, I’ll say that none of the questions are required. So as you get into the data collection portal and you’re going into put in your data, firms can skip whatever they want. So the more data they give, the, you know more we have to use to score them with. But that said, some of this, I think is awareness building that, you know, once we start asking questions, then people may start measuring, then we may start getting data. So unless somebody pokes at it, it’s never gonna change. And so we may only get a limited number of data the first couple of years. But as, as we keep poking, people may start measuring,
Greg Lambert 17:43
Do you think that firms will need to start collecting this type of data? And if they do, what do you think that the reaction is going to be from their attorneys and staff for asking this type of information?
Molly Huie 17:58
You know, I don’t know, I think it would be positive. I’m, there are some things that I’m sure if people don’t want to disclose, I’m not sure that firms could make them. But I think sometimes making it a safe space and saying, hey, look, we’re trying to understand what the makeup of our firm is racially, ethnically, sexual orientation, or gender identity, like, and if we know we can help. That may be an optimistic and rosy view. But hopefully.
Marlene Gebauer 18:26
How are you handling the sensitivity of the data you’ll be collecting, you know, how are firms identified or not identified in the survey results, if firms aren’t identified, then does that reduce the effectiveness of the survey?
Molly Huie 18:38
The point of this one is not to be anonymous to really be public and be out there with the listing of firms that meet or exceed the standard of diversity. So I think that will help move the needle by naming those firms that are doing it right. In terms of the security of the data, it is really sensitive data, we use a third party platform called Qualtrics, that does the survey hosting. And when we pull the data from there, it’s kept on secure servers at our Bloomberg offices, and only the analysts on my team have access to that. We will keep the data because I would like to be able to do year over year scoring for firms. So if a firm submits data this year and doesn’t make the framework listing, I’ll still have that data and they’ll get still get a scorecard. So they can look at the areas where they’d like to improve submit data again next year. And we’ll be able to build in some kind of credit or, you know, progress score as firms make improvements.
Greg Lambert 19:35
Alright, well, once you’ve worked through the summer, and and August, is has come coming gone and the survey closes, how are you going to analyze the information? And when do you estimate that, you know, we’re going to release the survey results?
Molly Huie 19:51
We’re hoping to be able to release the results in hopefully, early Q4. My goal is as firms start putting their data in, like, hopefully, we’ll have, you know, chunks of firms put data in before the August deadline. So we can start really building our metrics, you know, and all the coding that goes on behind it before the survey actually closes. Once we get the whole thing, I have a group of people that that I’ve been talking to, industry leaders, General Counsel, you know, some people in academia, so that what I want to happen is, I’m going to develop a score metric and say, hey, look, this is how I’ve scored things. And if I do it this way, these are the firms that make the list. Does that make sense to you? Because I don’t want to be doing this in a vacuum. This is too important. So getting a cohort of people that are really known and respected in the space to say, Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s do it this way. And then the idea is every year, hopefully the bar will raise as people and firms start doing a little bit better and a little bit better and a little bit better. Every year, we’ll tweak it.
Marlene Gebauer 20:52
I mean, it sounds like you know, once people see the results and see, you know, who is listed, it’s gonna be, you know, fear of missing out, right? Everyone’s gonna want to be on the list.
Molly Huie 21:06
I really hope so I’m hoping that this will get to be a standard in firms, kind of yearly disclosure practices. And I’m really hoping that it makes their lives easier. Like, this is a really comprehensive survey instrument, once they have all this data done, hopefully, they can just give it to some corporations and say, hey, look, we’ve we’ve made Bloomberg’s list is this good enough? But also, they’ve already collected all this data, even if they have to plug it into some other survey documents,
Marlene Gebauer 21:31
Molly Huie 21:31
It should still make their lives easier.
Greg Lambert 21:33
What kind of reaction so far have you gotten from both firms and from corporations on Bloomberg Law taking up the survey?
Molly Huie 21:41
Really positive. I’ve been really happy to find that everyone that I’ve talked to that’s in this space, is helpful of everybody else who’s in this space. Like they’re, they’re like, Oh, yeah, that’s great. jump right on, or here’s a little hole, here’s how you could fill it. I feel like all the other major players in this space are doing things a little bit differently, and all have value. So we’re all we’re all working together. One thing that I did hear from several general counsel is that they’d love to be able to dig deeper into the data. So you know, knowing for made the list is great. But you know, they want to they want to pick it apart themselves, if you will. And I would love to be able to do that. That is not something that we said that we were going to do with data this year. Perhaps as we collect more data and it becomes a standard part of firms disclosures, like maybe we will be able to build some kind of way for people to dig around and play with it. But that’s not that’s not in this year’s agenda.
Greg Lambert 22:37
Well, Molly Huie. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us about Bloomberg Laws new DEI Framework. I for 1am really looking forward to seeing it.
Marlene Gebauer 22:47
Yeah, thank you, Molly,
Molly Huie 22:48
You are welcome. I would love to talk to you about it again once the results are live.
Marlene Gebauer 22:53
I think we will.
Molly Huie 22:56
Greg Lambert 23:01
Marlene, I’m thinking that the DEI Framework has some pretty good potential here. You know, I really liked that Molly mentioned that someone needs to start poking law firms to start gathering these data points. And it seems that you know, if anybody’s going to do Bloomberg law has enough clout behind it to be the one doing the poking. Yeah,
Marlene Gebauer 23:21
I like this idea. I have some concern, again, regarding the depth not that the depth is bad. But is that gonna scare firms off? But you know, the good thing is, you know, Bloomberg, as you mentioned, Bloomberg does have some clout. And also, I like the idea of sort of publishing those that have sort of completed this. And that way, again, you kind of have that fear of missing out and like, you know, well, we you know, we got to get our name on there, too. So there’s there’s a bit of a nudge in that regard. Yeah.
Greg Lambert 23:53
Yeah. And as we said, in other conversations, you really can’t see progress on things you don’t measure. And you know, you got to start somewhere when it comes to measuring advancements and dei with with within law firms. Well, thanks again to Molly Huey from Bloomberg law for coming on the podcast and discussing the new Bloomberg law di framework. So I’m going to put some links in for the survey invitation on the show notes. And as we said a few weeks ago, this survey is thick, so don’t wait too long about starting to fill it out. But before we go, we want to remind listeners to take the time to subscribe on Apple podcast or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcast, and take the time to rate and review us as well. If you have any comments about today’s show, or suggestions for a future show, you can reach out to us on Twitter at @gebauerm or at @glambert. You can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 or you can email us at GeekinReviewpodcast@gmail.com
Marlene Gebauer 24:55
And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca. Thanks, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 25:00
All right. Thank you very much Jerry and I will talk to you later Marlene.
Molly Huie 25:04