Last week, in a landmark decision for LGBTQ rights, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has protected workers for decades from wrongful termination by their employer based on a number of characteristics, including race and sex. However, protections pertaining to “sex” had not been inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such federal protection has been long sought after by the LGBTQ community.
There are lessons to be learned from COVID-19 that should provide the impetus for change to address some of the structural flaws in the way Big Law recruits and develops legal talent.
Any analysis must acknowledge that while it may be easy to make broad proclamations about the permanent changes to Big Law that will arise from COVID-19 and its aftermath, it is dangerous to do so. Traditionally, Big Law does not change quickly or permanently by way of seismic shifts. It changes cautiously and slowly, often only after a strong market leader breaks with the past to provide cover to the entire profession – and particularly when clients press for, or at least approve, of a new approach.