“at least 30% of each of billed associate and partner time will be from diverse attorneys, and of such amounts at least half will be from Black attorneys.”
Coca-Cola Company is now mandating racial quotas for how its outside law firms staff Coca-Cola work. Not just aspirations to increase diversity, straight out minimums based on race. In the zero sum game of how a limited number of matters are staffed by a limited number of lawyers, that means Coca-Cola is mandating that law firms engage in racism.
Bloomberg Law reports:
The Coca-Cola Company has launched one of the legal industry’s most rigorous outside counsel diversity programs yet, requiring law firms to give a portion of work to Black attorneys specifically and withholding a nonrefundable 30% of fees from those that fail to meet diverse staffing metrics.
The Atlanta-based beverage giant announced the new standards in a Jan. 28 letter to Coca-Cola’s outside firms, obtained by Bloomberg Law.
“We will no longer celebrate good intentions or highly unproductive efforts that haven’t and aren’t likely to produce better diverse staffing,” General Counsel Bradley Gayton wrote. “It’s the results that we are demanding and will measure going forward.”
Coca-Cola is forcing its outside counsel to staff at least 30% of new matters with diverse attorneys, with at least half of that billable time going to Black lawyers in particular. Gayton told Bloomberg Law he hopes to increase the overall diverse billable hour staffing requirement to 50% within the next two years.
The letter (pdf.) provides the following chart spelling out the quotas, including who qualifies as a “diversity” attorney and what the minimum percentages need to be:
Outside counsel commit to providing KO with self-identified diversity data (including American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Women, Hispanic/Latinx, LGBTQ+, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander and Persons with Disabilities) for KO’s quarterly analysis of the diversity of teams working on KO matters
* * *
For each new KO matter following the revision to the guidelines (“New Matters”), you commit that at least 30% of each of billed associate and partner time will be from diverse attorneys, and of such amounts at least half will be from Black attorneys. Work performed by diverse attorneys is expected to be accretive to their development and advancement at the firm. These percentages are approximately linked to U.S. Census population data. These minimum commitments will be adjusted over time as U.S. Census data evolves, with an ultimate aspiration that at least 50% of billed associate time and billed partner time will be from diverse attorneys with at least half of that amount from Black attorneys. You will also work to apply the above commitment to our existing matters with your firm.
Of course law firms are all on board with discriminating among their attorneys, they want the business:
Gayton told Law.com that Coca-Cola has already started to preview the program with law firms.
“There’s really broad support for what we’re doing,” he said.
Coke is bragging about and touting the new quotas:
This week, the Coca-Cola legal department shared a letter with our outside counsel. It details our commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging, including new requirements for all law firm partners moving forward. Learn more: https://t.co/G5WIWzAkFt pic.twitter.com/EuHO1lMH8z
— The Coca-Cola Co. (@CocaColaCo) January 28, 2021
Racial discrimination in employment through the use of quotas is illegal. Coke likely will claim it does not impost quotas, only financial incentives. But those financial incentives are based on racial quota compliance. The law firms may not have even that defense — Coke may be offloading the legal liability onto the law firms which will be required to implement the quotas.
The question is, who has the guts to sue Coke or the law firms? Certainly not the law firms who want the business, or the attorneys who want to continue working at the law firms.DONATE
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