Power, Prizes and Partners: explaining the diversity boom in City law firms.
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The thesis is a qualitative study of the diversity boom in City law firms. The central research question asks why there should have been such a number of diversity policies implemented in recent years by these firms. The findings are based on interviews with diversity staff and lawyers in eleven of the fifteen largest U. K. law firms, with two global law firms and with the Minister responsible for diversity in the legal profession at the (then) Department of Constitutional Affairs. Interviews were also conducted with diversity staff in three investment banks in order to triangulate data about the role of clients and provide a comparative perspective. The key finding of the research is that certain outside parties play a critical role in pressurizing City law firms to take action on diversity. The most important parties for these purposes are clients, the legal press and interest groups who each leverage power over law firms in highly effective ways, such as by inventing and awarding prizes. The Government and the Law Society play surprisingly low key roles, choosing to act as persuaders rather than to exert decisive exogenous pressures. However, notwithstanding the key role of outsiders in explaining these policies, power relations within firms are also very important, and partners in particular play a key role in decision making. Overall, the study finds that the diversity policies which get made are those which powerful outsiders demand and of which powerful insiders approve. The thesis concludes With a discussion of the implications of these findings.
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