Kit Chaskin
Kit Chaskin

One purpose behind the partnership between Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and a new national diversity initiative is to work with scholars in the field to design experiments and analyze the data.

“I’m using my position to gather the best scholarship out there and to also partner with scholars to help design experiments,” said Kit Chaskin, director of gender initiatives at Northwestern Law.

Chaskin will serve as the chair of community leaders who are participating in Move the Needle, an initiative launched recently by Diversity Lab.

The Move the Needle fund is a $5 million investment to create measurable diversity goals for five firms, four of which have been chosen, by 2025. The partnership was announced Sept. 18.

The Move the Needle fund was created partly in response to the predictive modeling that shows the largest 200 firms in the country as a group will not reflect the law school diversity percentages for women and racial minorities in the equity partnership until 2057 and 2084, respectively.

“We got to do something because I’m not going to be alive in 2057,” Chaskin said.

Northwestern law school Dean Kimberly Yuracko said law schools for decades have been graduating classes that are approximately 50% women and racially diverse.

“We know how extraordinary all our students are, and we are preparing them to be the next generation of our society’s and our profession’s leaders. We have an obligation to ensure that our students live in a world that will recognize and reward their accomplishments fairly and without regard to their race and gender,” Yuracko said in a statement.

Chaskin said experimentation is a big part of Move the Needle.

“Asking scholars to design experiments, gather data and do rigorous scholarly analysis of the Move The Needle fund is a goal of me,” Chaskin said.

She said the scholars and the details of the experiments will be announced in the coming weeks.

The four of the five national law firms that have been chosen are Eversheds Sutherland (U.S.) LLP, Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in San Francisco and Stoel Rives LLP in Portland, Ore. The fifth firm has not yet been selected.

For example, Eversheds Sutherland is seeking to increase the percentage of female partners to 33% and diverse partners — which includes racial minorities, LGBTQ individuals, lawyers with disabilities and veterans — to 15%.

Chaskin said a secondary goal of Move the Needle is to produce a website featuring a D&I Dashboard that will share the firm’s progress toward their goals with data.

The Move the Needle fund website describes the D&I Dashboard as “a central clearinghouse for research, knowledge sharing and data.”

“The idea behind that is to raise the bar for the whole profession,” Chaskin said. “If I were a law firm, I would bottom feed off the effort of those five firms and experiment with the things they are experimenting with. That’s why these five firms are so brave. To the extent that they fail, it will be out there for everyone to see but then everybody else can stop doing things that fail.”

She said the D&I Dashboard is expected to launch in 2020.