The Suited for Law platform was launched in December 2020 to enable law firms to accurately and equitably identify candidates of the highest professional potential. The partnership with the National Black Law Student Association is a natural one, as the organization is filled with driven, intelligent, and capable students looking to secure careers in law.
The event was moderated by Suited's CEO and Co-founder Matt Spencer and NBLSA's National Director of Career & Professional Development, Jaylen Amaker (who filled in for Ebony Love). Suited was represented by its two board members, Angela Vallot and James Cole Jr., with 17 and 15 years in the legal profession, respectively. Skadden, a firm on the Suited platform, was represented by Devin Glenn, the Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Christina Fox, the Assistant Director of Talent Communication and Strategic Projects.
Matt kicked off the event by providing a brief overview of Suited and how the platform aims to "bridge the gap" in the legal profession. He explained, "In our two verticals, investment banking and law, certain students often find an easier path into prestigious firms by way of personal connections or elite degrees. Suited launched its recruiting network in the legal profession to help law firms discover candidates with the highest potential, regardless of where they attend law school and how high their GPA might be. One of our stated goals is to enable a more equitable and efficient recruiting process and meaningfully impact the lack of diversity in the industry."
Students were able to submit questions for our panelists prior to the event. Many students had specific questions about how to access positions in Big Law without top-of-the-class GPA's or T14 schools on their resumes.
"Keep in mind that firms do look at things such as trends from semester to semester," said Christina Fox from Skadden. "So if you have shown improvement, I say you 100% should address it head on. In a proactive way, you can talk about the grades that are higher and tell them what you did to adjust and improve."
Students were also asked to submit their hesitations about Big Law as Black or minority future attorneys. A concern that was raised was around the idea that Black professionals often face more performance scrutiny from bosses or peers, with one member saying "I feel that firms will expect more from me than my white coworkers."
Angela responded by noting, "Start from the premise that the firm wants you there, they hired you, and they want you to succeed. You have to go into the situation being positive and confident in your own abilities. However, we can't be naive - we know that if you have a brain, you have bias. We also know that People of Color, especially African Americans, often one of the ways bias shows up is in this notion of PIA, or "Prove It Again," and people may doubt our capabilities or think we're diversity hires."
"My advice is don't internalize it, don't isolate," Angela continued. "Talk to other people. Don't doubt your own abilities and stay away from imposter syndrome."
James added, "I struggled with this myself as the first Black partner at my previous firm, always thinking will I really be evaluated on my merit?" He continued by saying:
Then I realized that every hour you spend concerned with what other people think of you, is an hour less in the day, and I've not met an attorney who says they have an extra hour to give away. the time required to do a great job is a lot."
We highly recommend that all firms consider recruiting students from NBLSA. It is an amazing organization that articulates and promotes the needs and goals of Black law students to effectuate change in the legal community. Less than 5% of associates and less than 2% of partners are Black. In the span of 11 years, according to NALP’s data on diversity in the legal profession, the prevalence of Black women at the associate level has increased by just one-tenth of a percentage point. There is a lot of work to be done across the legal industry as it relates to the equity of Black professionals, and we hope Suited and our partners will do our part to effect change.