LGBT Representation Among Lawyers in 2014

NALP Bulletin, March 2015

The overall percentage of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lawyers reported in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) in 2014 increased to 2.30% compared with 2.19% in 2013. Percentages increased across all categories — partners, associates, and other lawyers — by about one tenth of one percent. Over 40% of offices reported at least one LGBT lawyer among partners and associates.

In 2014 the total number of lawyers included in the analysis is almost unchanged from 2013. The overall count of 2,182 LGBT lawyers is higher than it was in 2013, resulting in the increased percentages. Over a longer span of time, the numbers have about doubled. In the 2002-2003 NDLE, the number of openly gay lawyers reported was just over 1,100 — less than 1% of the total lawyers represented. In 2012, the 2,105 openly LGBT lawyers reported in the NDLE accounted for 2.07% of the total lawyers represented; the 2,085 openly LGBT lawyers reported in the 2013 NDLE accounted for 2.19% of the total.

The presence of LGBT lawyers continues to be highest among associates, at 2.93%, as shown in the accompanying tables, and is up a bit from the figure of 2.83% reported in 2013. Openly LGBT associates are also better represented at large law firms — with firms of 701+ lawyers reporting 3.38% openly LGBT associates. Similarly, openly LGBT partners are best represented at the largest firms in the U.S. — with firms of 701+ lawyers reporting 2.04% openly LGBT partners, compared with 1.77% among partners overall. An increase in openly LGBT partners in firms of 100 or fewer lawyers from 0.63% in 2009 to almost 2% since then (1.13% in 2011, 1.49% in 2013, and 1.87% in 2014) is notable. However, fluctuating figures, with no net increases among partners at the largest firms — from 2.05% in 2011, to 1.93% in 2012, to 2.01% in 2013, and 2.04% in 2014 — are also noted.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are wide geographic disparities in these numbers, and in fact about 56% of the reported openly LGBT lawyers are accounted for by just four cities: New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These same four cities accounted for about 40% of reported lawyers overall. Thus the percentage of openly LGBT lawyers in these cities is correspondingly higher — almost 3.4% overall (and 5.84% in San Francisco specifically) compared with the 2.30% nationwide figure. In these same four cities, the percentage of openly LGBT summer associates is also higher — about 4.9% compared with 3.98% nationwide.

It is also the case that the percentage of offices reporting LGBT counts has remained at 87-88% in recent years, and is lower than the 92% that reported this information in 2007. This change may reflect more deliberate use of the “unknown” and “not collected” reporting options in the directory’s demographic grid. Since 2006, employers have been required to fill out all portions of the grid with a number, which can be zero, or with either “NC” or “UNK” if the information was not collected or is unknown. However, the default entry is zero and must be actively changed to reflect “not collected” or “unknown.” Thus, reported counts of zero do not unambiguously mean zero, and it may simply be the case that the prevalence of “unknown” or “not collected” is better reported rather than actually higher.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the percentage of LGBT lawyers has generally been trending upward, and is about double that reported in 2002. NALP has been collecting demographic information on LGBT lawyers since 1996. During that time, the number of firms that give their LGBT lawyers an opportunity to self-identify has risen to almost 90%. This year, among the offices/firms reporting counts, well over 40% reported at least one openly LGBT partner or associate and about 19% of offices reporting a summer 2014 program and reporting demographics reported at least one openly LGBT summer associate. And, based on the figures for summer associates, the numbers appear likely to continue to increase, particularly for associates at the largest firms.

Reporting of Openly LGBT Lawyers — NALP Directory of Legal Employers 2014

# Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total
Partners 748 1.77% 59 1.87% 133 1.57%
Associates 1,172 2.93 35 1.95 113 2.25
Other lawyers 262 2.05 11 1.67 25 1.40
All lawyers 2,182 2.30 105 1.87 169 1.11
Summer associates 210 3.98 * * 19 2.97

# Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total
Partners 126 1.48 106 1.69 324 2.04
Associates 157 2.40 166 2.81 701 3.38
Other lawyers 42 1.65 39 2.08 145 2.45
All lawyers 325 1.84 311 2.21 1,170 2.75
Summer associates 18 2.01 31 4.02 138 5.07

Note: Figures for openly LGBT lawyers are based on 904 offices/firms reporting counts, including zero, in all lawyer categories; figures for openly LGBT summer associates are based on 634 offices/firms with a summer program and reporting counts, including zero. Overall, LGBT counts, including zero, cover 95,026 lawyers and 5,281 summer associates.

* Fewer than 5 reported.

National Association for Law Placement, Inc.® (NALP®)
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