Although their bank accounts might suggest otherwise, these are not the best of times for lawyers who work in the corporate legal marketplace. Instead, the trouble with lawyers in the corporate legal marketplace is that they are failing to answer two calls to action made by corporate clients, both of which are of great magnitude and importance for the future of the profession. The first call to action is one that Professor Deborah L. Rhode focused a lot of her scholarship on: the call to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the profession. The second call to action is the call by corporate clients for lawyers to collaborate and innovate.
When it comes to the call to collaborate and innovate, the question is: are the stakes that high, i.e., does it really matter if lawyers in the corporate legal marketplace fail to collaborate and innovate? It is this question that this Essay urges should be taken seriously. This Essay argues that to enhance DE&I, in-house and firm lawyers alike need to be capable and willing to (1) innovate the way in which they practice and work with others, and (2) meaningfully collaborate in multidisciplinary efforts to create novel solutions that truly begin to fill the DE&I gap.
This Essay was prepared for the Colloquium entitled In Memory of Deborah Rhode, hosted by the Fordham Law Review and co-organized by the Stein Center for Law and Ethics on October 21, 2022, at Fordham University School of Law.