Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner revises the American division of labor model to avoid unconscious bias

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has changed the way work is distributed in some of its US offices, moving away from its traditional partner-led model in an effort to avoid unconscious bias.

The change, which follows a company initiative Dealing practice in the UK and Europe aims to prevent partners unconscious biases, which often limit who gets the job done.

The traditional approach “can create unconscious biases that limit equitable access to opportunity,” the company said in a statement.

Now, a dedicated resource manager recruited from an accounting firm will work full-time on behalf of partners and alongside associates to find the best ways to distribute work after building a picture of what associates want to work on. they have already done, and who they may or may not want to work with.

This is also intended to reduce the time partners spend deciding workloads and ensure the most appropriate candidates are used.

The process currently covers around 100 associates from BCLP’s corporate and finance teams in London.

“Historically, there has been a stereotype in business that when a white male partner assigns work in deals, it’s often the same person who receives the same fantastic offers, who is also a white male,” said said Simon Beddow, BCLP’s European Regional Head for Corporate and Funding Operations. “This [new] process ensures that work is truly distributed fairly. The randomness of old ways of distributing work is removed.

The initiative, supported by BigHand Resource Management Technology, began several years ago to improve the proportion of women in professional partnerships.

While working at his former company Ashurst, Beddow piloted the program within the company’s enterprise team. It has been introduced globally across the company and now around 20 companies in London are distributing work in this way, he said.

When Beddow joined BCLP more than two years ago, he led the pilot program in the firm’s corporate practice. Following its success, BCLP has now extended the new distribution of work model to its commercial, litigation and technology teams in the United States.

“Our clients don’t want to see lawyers working 24 hours a day; they want to see what we’re doing to change the dial and address equal opportunity across the company,” said Tommy Shi, BCLP’s US Director of Inclusion and Diversity.

Another benefit of the change is that workloads are evened out, Beddow said. “Where before the old models meant one person working 15-20 hours a day alongside a colleague working four, now you can identify where you might need staff or have excess capacity, and maximize productivity.”

Hybrid work that has become commonplace in the wake of the pandemic has companies in difficulty rethink work distribution models to ensure equal access to work opportunities whether an employee is remote or in the office.

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