Bryan R. Parker is CEO and Co-Founder of Legal Innovators. Bryan oversees the day-to-day operations of the business and drives strategy of Legal Innovators. Bryan has been a critical voice on diversity and inclusion issues and has written and spoken about these issues frequently. Bryan’s passion is to help the legal industry innovate, rationalize costs and drive systemic progress in diversity and inclusion.
Tell me a little about your background and how that led and/or influenced what you do now.
I have practiced law as an M&A lawyer and have also been an investment banker. After 15 years as an operations professional (GM, COO & CEO), I have developed a passion for leading teams, driving change, and seeing that the law as a more inclusive profession.
How do you see legal tech vendors playing a role in diversity efforts?
Well, I would say that in terms of legal tech vendors, they need to be reevaluating their own internal hiring processes and creating a mechanism for fairly dispersing professional growth opportunities and continuing to advance diverse employees to leadership positions. Data analytics can play a role in this in terms of evaluating their hiring practices and the makeup of their teams.
Do you see the pandemic has helping to push forward adoption?
Yes, the pandemic certainly has helped to force adoption, of some tools at least, upon firms and law departments as the need to work remotely has become a priority. Going forward, technology will continue to play a role in driving efficiency and productivity, which are two things that will remain important for some time to come as we at some point start to recover from the pandemic once it is over.
As someone deeply interested in and devoted to diversity and inclusion matters, what are your thoughts on it within the legal industry currently?
We have not made it a business priority. It’s been a “nice to have”. George Floyd’s murder has brought renewed focus and made people look at making the change systemic.
Representation of minorities within the profession has increased over time, but at an incremental pace. The Great Recession impeded progress on this front. However, diversity has shown itself to be beneficial to companies as diverse companies tend to be more resilient and innovative as compared to less diverse companies. Both of those qualities will be in high demand as we navigate through this pandemic and slowly recover from it.
How do you think we improve the diversity of the legal profession and promote more inclusivity?
It starts with making diversity a business priority and setting goals and incentives aligned with accomplishing those goals. Measure your progress and reporting on it so that others see the progress being made and get a better sense of embedded fairness and belonging. Starting with a robust hiring pipeline, training diverse candidates, giving them opportunities for promotion and creating robust environments of belonging are also essentials to achieve more systemic diversity and inclusion.
For a recent law graduate or young lawyer, how would you advise them finding their way in this challenging environment?
It is a hard and tough time. Patience will serve you well. If you haven’t found a job, take work where you can and pay the bills, but keep your legal skills sharp by doing pro bono. Stay determined. It will happen. Staying engaged will show employers you are not afraid of a challenge and to fight. Relentlessly, but politely, network. Networking will open doors and lead to introductions that will eventually create pathways to employment. Above all, find your passion, and stay committed to your passion. Living out your passion is ultimately the best way to achieving a complete, career and personal, life.