Move the Needle Fund

Move the Needle Fund logo

Northwestern Pritzker Law is the exclusive law school partner of the Move the Needle Fund (MTN), a collaboration between law firms, legal departments and diversity experts that seeks to increase diversity and inclusion in the legal profession through experimentation, collaboration, accountability, transparency, and metrics.

Why partner with an industry diversity effort?

For more than a decade, law school graduating classes have hovered around 50 percent women, 33 percent racial and ethnic minorities, and 6 percent LGBTQ+ students. Yet the equity partnership in most large law firms still consists of only 21 percent women, 9 percent racial and ethnic minorities, and 2 percent LGBTQ+ lawyers. The Move the Needle Fund seeks to drive greater progress by creating model firms that can measurably improve these numbers.

Who is working on the Fund?

The Fund is a project of Diversity Lab, an incubator for innovative solutions to the legal industry’s diversity and inclusion challenges. The Fund is currently comprised of 5 founding law firms: Eversheds Sutherland (US), Goodwin, Nixon Peabody, Orrick, and Stoel Rives.

In addition to these five firms, more than 25 founding general counsel and their legal departments will support the firms’ goals and boost diversity in the profession by partnering on diversity internships and other law school pipeline initiatives, providing career-enhancing work and advancement opportunities to diverse outside counsel teams, and measuring their current and future outside counsel firms’ diversity and inclusion progress. They will also experiment with and measure the impact of many of the innovative MTN efforts in their own legal departments and with their current outside counsel.

Read their open letter supporting this effort and encouraging others to get involved.

A panel of MTN Community Leaders, chaired by the Director of the Gender Equity Initiative, are subject-matter experts that support the Fund with valuable insights, support and data.

How does the Fund work?

The five founding firms have pledged to:

  • Invest more than $5M over five years
  • Set aggressive, public, firm-specific diversity goals
  • Experiment with innovative, research-based methods to achieve those goals
  • Measure the outcomes
  • Share the results — including the successes and failures — with each other and the community

The Fund will help the firms experiment with new approaches to hiring, work/life integration, work allocation, sponsorship, promotions, feedback, performance reviews, and compensation systems.

Some existing approaches to these experiments include Diversity in Law Hackathon ideas, evidence-based research on bias interrupters from the ABA and Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and research from top academic institutions. Other approaches will be developed through experimentation and collaboration between the five firms.

Read the the firms’ five-year diversity and inclusion goals.

What is Northwestern Pritzker Law’s role?

Northwestern Pritzker Law provides strategic support to the Fund through its Gender Equity Initiative. In addition, the Director of Gender Equity Initiative, heads the community leaders, who provide subject-matter expertise to the Fund on a variety of topics from data analysis to organizational development.

Northwestern also partners with Diversity Lab on its Diversity in Law Hackathons, and the Mansfield Rule.