Is your firm minority-owned? Do you want more corporate clients? If so, you should consider the benefits of third-party certification. Corporations are placing a stronger emphasis on the diversity of their outside counsel and minority certification can play a key role in giving your firm an edge.
At the recent annual Solo & Small Firm conference – held on February 8, 2018 and presented by BASF’s Solo & Small Firm Section – representatives from the following distinguished organizations talked about the process of becoming minority-certified and the benefits of doing so: Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC), Astra Women’s Business Alliance (a Regional Partner Organization of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)), and the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA). WRMSDC certifies firms that are at least 51% or more ethnic-minority-owned. Astra certifies firms that are majority-owned by women. The GGBA works in partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to certify firms majority-owned by LGBT individuals.
These organizations have similar processes for certifying that companies are 51% minority-owned and operated. The certification process generally takes 45-60 days and begins when an online application is accepted. The process includes in-house review, certification committee review, site visit, and board review and vote.
Once your firm is certified, these organizations advocate on your behalf, and provide access to potential clients and networking events. The organizations also work with their corporate members on supplier inclusion. Supplier inclusion is a business program that encourages the use of previously underutilized minority-owned vendors as suppliers.
In addition to leveling the playing field, certification is important to provide corporate clients access to outside counsel with diverse experiences, providing increased value in the legal services offered. In other words, if a corporation only hires white men to represent it, it is relying on a small subset of experiences and missing out on more valuable legal services that come with more diverse experiences.
If you are interested in certification, please contact the appropriate organization:
About the author:
Kyle Schriner is the principal attorney at Schriner Law Firm, a litigation firm in San Francisco that focuses on commercial, employment and real estate litigation