The Procurement Protocol has been designed to give organisations that purchase legal services the peace of mind that they are using law firms that share their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
All purchasers of legal services, regardless of practice size, are invited to become protocol partners by committing to the protocol principles.
Statement of commitment
By signing up to the protocol, in-house legal departments promise to consider a potential supplier’s diversity and inclusion practices as part of the normal tendering process.
They also show to their colleagues, clients and competitors that they are committed to taking practical steps against discrimination in the legal profession.
As signatories to this protocol we will demonstrate our commitment to promoting equality by adopting practical measures in our role as purchasers of legal services. We wish to engage with suppliers who take active steps to follow good practice in recruiting, developing and managing staff that help to widen opportunities for minority and other under-represented groups. Accordingly we will:
- Conduct procurement processes in an open, fair and transparent manner to promote best practice in equality amongst our suppliers
- As part of the selection process for suppliers of legal services, we will collect and consider the information that is captured by the model questionnaire
- Ask suppliers for key indicators of their commitment and progress in implementing effective equality policies and take those into account in the supplier selection process
- Support actions by our suppliers to safeguard equality and promote diversity and inclusion among those with whom they engage, including when instructing counsel or within partnership projects
- Review and monitor the equality, diversity and inclusion work and performance of any providers, contractors or businesses we use, to ensure that they are meeting acceptable standards. This can be on the basis of annual reports produced by providers of legal services
- Adopt procurement policies that give a clear commitment to equality of opportunity, to tackling discrimination and disadvantage and to promoting diversity and inclusion
Signing up to the Procurement Protocol is easy. A general counsel or director equivalent just needs to email firstname.lastname@example.org stating their commitment to the protocol.
Implementing the protocol is straightforward. There is very little time and work involved on the part of the purchaser. We provide information and support tools that enable protocol partners to assess performance of suppliers on diversity and inclusion by providing them with context. Standardised diversity questions make the protocol efficient for all parties.
To support protocol partners with assessing their suppliers’ equality and diversity credentials, we have produced a model questionnaire to help capture key information.
The questionnaire covers everything from the firm’s own diversity statistics to the steps it is taking to recruit, develop and support minority and under-represented groups and the policies it has to promote and maintain good diversity practices including flexible working.
The questionnaire gives suppliers the opportunity to show how they are contributing to a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.
Other support tools available include:
- a supplier scorecard which helps to evaluate the questionnaire response
- best practice guidance
- case study examples
Signatories can access the support tools through the reporting tool once they have signed up to the charter.
In-house legal departments of the following organisations have signed up to the Procurement Protocol:
- Barings Asset Management Limited
- Birmingham City Council
- Burnley Borough Council
- Colchester Borough Council
- Crown Prosecution Service
- Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
- Derbyshire County Council
- Gloucestershire Constabulary
- Guildford Borough Council
- LGSS Law (shared legal services for Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire County Councils)
- London Borough of Lambeth
- London Boroughs Legal Alliance: Hammersmith & Fulham, Hounslow, Harrow, Hillingdon, Camden, Islington, Waltham Forest and Kensington and Chelsea
- JPMorgan Chase
- Land Securities Group Plc
- Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service
- LSL Property Services plc
- Luton Borough Council
- MITIE Group PLC
- National Grid
- North Dorset District Council
- North Tyneside Council
- North West Legal Consortium
- Pendle Borough Council
- Pertemps Recruitment Partnership Limited
- Portsmouth City Council
- Roche Products Limited
- Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council
- Test Valley Borough Council
- The Treasury Solicitors Office
- University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
- Vodafone Group plc
- West London Waste Authority
Background to development of the Procurement Protocol
The initiative was originally conceived by the Society of Asian Lawyers and BT who recognised the opportunity for purchasers of legal services to drive continuous improvement on diversity and inclusion of the profession through the procurement process.
The Law Society was approached to lead the project and saw the benefit of bringing together purchasers and providers through a joint commitment which would also provide a platform for ongoing dialogue and collaborative action.
"BP strongly supports the principles set out in the charter and is pleased to become a protocol partner. It is important for BP’s suppliers to reflect BP’s own commitment to diversity and the protocol will advance this in the area of legal services."
Rupert Bondy, general counsel, BP Legal
"The intellectual argument for diversity is winning but we will only enjoy its benefits to legal services if we put theory into practice. The charter and Procurement Protocol will ensure that diversity, and its benefits, are a key factor in the procurement of external legal services."
Dan Fitz, group general counsel & company secretary, BT Group plc