Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe has hired a new senior leader to help strengthen its ties to clients in a new diversity and inclusion initiative.
Duane Hughes has joined Orrick as the managing director of inclusion and Move the Needle. The Move the Needle Fund is a five-year, $5 million collaboration between law firms, in-house counsel, and diversity incubator the Diversity Lab to address the persistent diversity deficit in the legal profession.
Law firms have been under increasing pressure to diversify their ranks. A 2019 study by the National Association for Law Placement published found that while women and minorities have made steady gain in representation at Big Law firms, the pace of that growth has been incremental at best.
Orrick and four other law firms, joined with more than 25 general counsel to launch Move the Needle Fund last fall. Over the next five years, they will report on their progress via a public-facing website and will work together—and with GCs and outside diversity experts—to test new programs.
Bloomberg LP general counsel David Levine is one of the initiative’s founding in-house lawyers and is an adviser to the Move the Needle Fund. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP.
Hughes will also serve as a member of Orrick’s executive leadership team and will be based in New York.
His jump to Orrick was “in the making for almost three decades,” said Hughes, a former Shearman & Sterling and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett associate.
Prior to his move to Orrick, Hughes served as managing director and senior finance and business manager of the Latin American Private Bank at JP Morgan. He also spent nearly two decades in senior roles at Morgan Stanley, including chief operating officer of International Wealth Management. He founded and chaired the bank’s legal diversity program.
Hughes in his new role will work with Orrick’s co-chair for diversity and inclusion, Lorraine McGowen, to solidify relationships between the firm and its principal clients. As for tangibles, Hughes said his goal is to increase the number of teams of diverse lawyers, and hopefully increase the level of responsibility and power of diverse professionals.
“The best outcome would be a mutual gain where each of us helps each other and that we wake up five, 10 years from now with greater levels of diversity both at the client level and within the law firm,” Hughes said.
Hughes’ addition to Orrick comes at a time when legal industry experts worry that progress on law firm diversity and inclusion could be erased by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know our clients do not want to let diversity slip on the priority list in the midst of this crisis—and neither do we,” Orrick Chair Mitch Zuklie said in a statement.
So the firm felt was critical to invest in more senior leadership to advance the conversation with our clients, community and firm and prioritize investment in this transformation with the addition of Hughes, Zuklie said.
“A lot of people are watching,” Hughes said of legal profession’s diversity efforts. The legal industry has faced challenging times in the past, but the firm is making strategic investments and commitments in the diversity space “that are not changed by the short-term market conditions,” he said.