Patrick C. Dunican, Jr.

Patrick C. Dunican, Jr.
Chairman & Managing Director, Gibbons P.C.

Headquarters: Newark, New Jersey
Primary Business: Law firm
Revenues: $106.5 million
Employees: 388

Client Demand for Diversity

According to American Lawyer, the percentage of minority lawyers at Am Law 200 firms actually decreased half a percentage point from 2008 to 2009 and has since rebounded only to 2008 levels. More alarming is the fact that, despite a years-long, industry-wide effort to increase diversity at corporate law firms, diverse attorneys still experience a higher attrition rate than their non-minority peers.

Given the recent economic downturn and slow recovery, increased layoffs are unsurprising. But with attrition rates an average of ten percent higher than overall rates, according to one American Bar Association study, diverse attorneys are more at risk for the career setbacks and professional detours that often accompany high attrition. The cumulative long-term impact on the legal industry as a whole is equally damaging; high attrition depletes the candidate pool of diverse future law firm leaders. As business owners, corporate decision makers, judges, legislators, and other influencers, as well as consumers wielding greater purchasing power, become increasingly diverse, client demand for diversity at their law firms is also increasing. If firms cannot adequately recruit, retain, develop, and promote dynamic, talented attorneys with the valuable perspectives, cultural competence, and talents that diversity encourages, they will likely diminish in both reputation and financial performance.

At my law firm, our award-winning Diversity Initiative has been integral in our efforts to alleviate attrition and cultivate the best possible attorney workforce. While the Gibbons Diversity Initiative has always had a holistic focus on recruitment, training, mentoring, retention, and innovative programming to hone our associates’ professional, business development, and networking skills, we have recently begun to explore the strategic management of key business processes to help lower the attrition gap. These innovations include, for example, outfitting our Chief Diversity Officer and staffing partners with sophisticated technology to ensure objective work assignments; developing more objective evaluation processes that deemphasize less meaningful inequities; and implementing a quality review process.

With corporate America increasingly emphasizing corporate social responsibility and supplier diversity, law firms must offer clients the opportunity to work with a strong, diverse attorney workforce, or they risk, quite simply, losing business. Without a strategic, defined, and well-managed diversity initiative that focuses on training, programming, and business innovations to promote an inclusive workplace, a law firm may fail to meet its own diversity goals, not to mention those of its clients.

Education: BA, Iona College; JD, Seton Hall University
First Job: Paper boy
What I’m Reading: The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Star-Ledger, and Record (Bergen County, NJ)
My Philosophy: Individuals affiliated with an organization should sublimate their own egos for the good of the entire organization.
Best Advice: These fabulous lawyers teach me something new about how to solve a complex problem, how to put the client’s interests first, and how to continually pursue excellence.
Family: Wife, Christina; children, Morgan and Michael
Interests: New York Yankees baseball, New York Giants football
Favorite Charities: New Jersey State Bar Foundation, Seton Hall University School of Law