Beyond Microsoft: Addressing the pipeline
Microsoft is a proud supporter of and participant in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) and their programs designed to attract, inspire, and nurture talent to create a new and more diverse generation of attorneys.
And Microsoft has partnered with the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) to create a one-week IP immersion program: the Intellectual Property Law Institute (IPLI). This program held in Washington, DC, provides an opportunity for twenty-five diverse law students from law schools across the country to learn about IP law, to observe U.S. IP institutions at work first-hand, to meet leading members of the IP legal community, and to connect with mentors and pathways for future job opportunities.
Research indicates that pipeline issues do not stop at admissions to law school. So we’ve developed a program in Washington state, the Gregoire Fellows, aimed at improving retention of diverse students. The program provides students with the tools and resources needed to successfully enter the legal profession. We also fund law school scholarships through the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) and programs to prepare diverse students for law school through the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO).
In 2013, Microsoft funded a study entitled ‘Raising the Bar’ that took a detailed look at the diversity gap between the legal profession and other professions with similar education or licensing requirements. The study found that we are losing many professionals before they begin their career. This research has helped shape our approach to the programs we offer to address pipeline issues.
We also commissioned a study in 2015 to better support disability diversity in the legal profession. The research indicates that despite the prevalence of disability in the general population, people with disabilities are among the most underrepresented in the legal field.
We supported a first-of-its-kind study by the National Native American Bar Association in 2015 to understand the issues confronting Native American attorneys across all settings. The research reveals the importance of extending diversity and inclusion efforts to reach Native American attorneys, who are substantially underrepresented in the profession, often feel invisible, and share an overarching perspective that their experiences are not valid or real.