Law Firms

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Several BigLaw firms are testing a new AI-powered recruiting platform to combat unconscious bias in law firm hiring practices.

Suited, which says on its website that it “enables law firms to fairly and accurately assess an applicant’s professional potential,” will soon start a pilot program that includes Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton; Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders; Willkie Farr & Gallagher; and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

The platform was initially offered early last year to investment banking firms, which have since seen seven times more candidates from underrepresented groups and five times more candidates from nontarget schools, said Matt Spencer, co-founder and CEO of Suited, in a statement provided to Law.com.

“We recognized that a lot of the pain points were similar in investment banking and legal,” he said. “The process, while somewhat different and nuanced, is still similar in terms of thought process, approach and how it is done. We felt we could take the model we developed on the banking side and work to produce something specific for the legal vertical.”

Suited creates a custom AI model for each firm that identifies key employee traits that lead to high performance and the best cultural fit. It invites associate candidates at various law schools to take the assessment through its web-based portal and then provides firms with evidence-based probability of their likelihood to succeed.

Bess Sully, the chief human resources officer at Sheppard Mullin, told Law.com that she hopes Suited will work well with her firm’s general data-driven approach to management.

“We get thousands of resumés, and I have four people screening,” she said. “And you are screening just on a resumé. It’s hard to recruit at every school out there, but it helps if you have a platform that is pushing candidates to you that model well given your needs.”

Antonio Yanez Jr., a partner at Willkie and one of its recruiting chairs, also told Law.com that he hopes Suited assists his firm in recruiting from a broader range of schools in the future.

“The way to previously get access to a law student was to put people on campuses and then set up next steps after that,” he said. “This allows us to remove some of those barriers and have a broader reach.”

Sully and Yanez added that they hope that the platform will help their firms address the issue of bias.

“The issue of bias and removing bias from the process are front and center to this product,” Yanez told Law.com. “We have had multiple conversations on this topic with them, and they expended considerable thought in attempting to address it, and on that basis we were willing to move forward with the program.”