Law Firms and Pro Services Under OFCCP Microscope in 2020

Related Practices and Jurisdictions

“Clear,” “worrying,” “worrying,” “problematic” and “systemic” were some of the words OFCCP Director Craig Leen used to describe the underrepresentation of women, minorities and people with disabilities in large law firms 10 April 2019 City Hall meeting in New York City. Director Leen announced that representation and compensation issues at law firms and other professional service providers will be a focus of OFCCP in the next fiscal year.

Director Leen indicated that OFCCP will focus on investigating and eliminating inequalities in the promotion of law firms to partners. OFCCP is also expected to investigate whether law firm billable hours guidelines are an obstacle to advancement of lawyers and the ability of employees of all genders to take family vacations. OFCCP also plans to issue guidance on its ability to monitor practices with lawyers who are equity partners.

OFCCP’s 2019 list of contractors selected for review included five AmLaw 100 law firms for compliance reviews. Law firms that are not government contractors can also unexpectedly fall under the jurisdiction of OFCCP when providing services to clients of government contractors that are deemed “necessary” for the performance of a federal contract.

Director Leen’s announcement comes against the background of several high profile lawsuits filed by female lawyers, both partners and associates, against some of the largest law firms in the country. These developments show that pay equity and gender discrimination in law firms are in the crosshairs of private litigants and government agencies. Rather than waiting to be the target of a government investigation or litigation, law firms should seek outside consultants and conduct extensive compliance audits, including reviewing pay equity and promotion rates.

© Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in CaliforniaNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 101

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