Perspectives on Diversity (2014)

NALP Bulletin, June 2014

Recent NALP research has shown that, while overall representation of minorities among associates at large firms has more than recovered since sliding in 2010, the representation of African-Americans/Blacks specifically has in contrast declined every year since 2010 — from 4.36% of associates in 2010 to 4.10% in 2013. A closer look reveals that this decline can be attributed to a steady decline in African-American/Black women from 2.75% of associates to 2.43%. These NALP research findings on the representation of minorities among the ranks of associates come from analyses of the data reported by law firms in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers from 2010 to 2013.

Added perspective is provided by newly compiled figures from NALP’s graduate employment survey. Depending on firm size, between 70% and 85% of law firm jobs are taken by white graduates — hardly surprising given the overall demographic makeup of law school graduating classes. However, that percentage is lowest at the largest firms of 501+ lawyers, and has actually declined a bit in recent years, from 73.5% for the Class of 2010 to 70.9% for the Class of 2012. During the same period Asian graduates have increased their representation at those firms from 13% to almost 15%. In contrast, representation of African-American/Black men has not budged in percentage terms, at 2.6%, and for women it has slipped from 3.7% to 3.4%. Tables 1 and 2 show the details of these findings.

Among associates at major law firms, it is evident that there are differences between specific racial/ ethnic groups and between men and women. According to findings based on data reported in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers, representation of Asians among associates has increased steadily since 2010 among both men and women, and women outnumber men. Representation of Hispanics has generally been flat, and numbers of men and women are nearly equal. Women still outnumber men among African-American/ Black associates, but because women’s representation has tracked opposite to that of men, the difference has shrunk from 1.14 percentage points in 2010, to just a 0.70 percentage point differential in 2012.

Jobs at the entry-level suggest some of the reasons for this according to analyses of the figures compiled from NALP’s graduate employment survey. For example, at firms of more than 500 lawyers, the percentage of jobs taken by African-American/ Black men has remained at 2.6%, while the percentage of jobs taken by African-American/Black women has declined a bit from 3.7% to 3.4%. The percentage of jobs taken by Asian graduates has increased for both men and women, to 6.4% and 8.4%, respectively. Figures for firms of 251-500 lawyers — a far smaller number of jobs — show more fluctuation for Asian and female African-American/Black graduates.

Small firms of 2-10 account for the largest share of law firm jobs, and compared with the largest firms, a larger portion of these jobs is taken by white graduates; this has fluctuated little in recent years. The largest proportions of white men are found in firms of 11-25 and 26-50 lawyers — again the number of jobs in these firms is relatively smaller.

Finally, returning to analyses based upon data reported in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers, minorities have continued to make small incremental gains in their representation at the partnership level in major law firms — gains that were not interrupted in 2010. But those small gains have been the smallest among African-American/Black partners, increasing from just 1.70% of partners in 2010 to 1.78% in 2013.

More information on the research referenced here can be found at .www.nalp.org/minoritieswomen.


Table 1. Minority Associates at Major Law Firms — 2010-2013
(Percent of All Associates)

  2010 2011 2012 2013
Asian Associates — Total 9.39% 9.65% 10.01% 10.48%
    Men 4.24 4.31 4.61 4.84
    Women 5.15 5.31 5.40 5.64
Hispanic Associates — Total 3.81 3.83 3.90 3.82
     Men 1.87 1.91 1.95 1.93
    Women 1.94 1.92 1.95 1.89
African-American/Black Associates — Total 4.36 4.29 4.19 4.10
     Men 1.61 1.68 1.64 1.67
     Women 2.75 2.61 2.55 2.43

Source: NALP Directory of Legal Employers, 2010-2013


Table 2. Demographics of Graduates Taking Jobs in Law Firms — Classes of 2010-2012

  2010 2011 2012
% of Jobs Taken in Firms of 2-10 Lawyers:
    By White Men 45.3 46.2 45.3
    By White Women 35.0 35.3 35.2
    By African-American/Black Men 1.5 1.1 1.3
    By African-American/Black Women 2.3 2.3 2.3
    By Asian Men 2.7 2.9 2.8
    By Asian Women 4.1 3.6 3.8
    By Hispanic Men 3.2 3.1 3.4
    By Hispanic Women 3.8 3.6 3.7
Total Number of Jobs Taken in Firms of 2-10 * 6,464 6,976 7,668
% of Jobs Taken in Firms of 11-25 Lawyers:
    By White Men 50.6 48.6 47.3
    By White Women 35.7 34.0 35.5
    By African-American/Black Men 0.9 1.0 1.0
    By African-American/Black Women 1.5 1.9 2.2
    By Asian Men 2.6 3.5 2.2
    By Asian Women 3.4 3.3 3.6
    By Hispanic Men 2.8 2.9 2.7
    By Hispanic Women 1.8 2.7 3.3
Total Number of Jobs Taken in Firms of 11-25 * 1,481 1,725 1,779
% of Jobs Taken in Firms of 26-50 Lawyers:
    By White Men 47.8 47.9 48.0
    By White Women 36.7 35.1 36.8
    By African-American/Black Men 1.4 1.4 1.6
    By African-American/Black Women 1.2 2.1 1.7
    By Asian Men 2.8 3.0 3.4
    By Asian Women 3.3 4.1 2.7
    By Hispanic Men 2.1 2.1 2.1
    By Hispanic Women 2.7 3.0 1.6
Total Number of Jobs Taken in Firms of 26-50 * 903 1,008 1,004
% of Jobs Taken in Firms of 51-100 Lawyers:
    By White Men 45.2 44.7 44.9
    By White Women 36.3 36.0 33.5
    By African-American/Black Men 2.6 3.2 3.6
    By African-American/Black Women 2.4 2.5 2.3
    By Asian Men 3.7 2.7 4.7
    By Asian Women 4.7 5.1 3.6
    By Hispanic Men 2.3 2.3 1.4
    By Hispanic Women 1.6 2.4 3.3
Total Number of Jobs Taken in Firms of 51-100 * 699 825 782
% of Jobs Taken in Firms of 101-250 Lawyers:
    By White Men 42.7 44.4 43.0
    By White Women 37.6 33.5 37.6
    By African-American/Black Men 2.7 3.2 2.2
    By African-American/Black Women 2.6 2.0 3.0
    By Asian Men 4.3 3.4 3.3
    By Asian Women 3.8 6.1 4.5
    By Hispanic Men 1.8 2.7 2.6
    By Hispanic Women 2.6 2.8 2.6
Total Number of Jobs Taken in Firms of 101-250 * 933 933 973
% of Jobs Taken in Firms of 251-500 Lawyers:
    By White Men 44.7 41.6 44.0
    By White Women 32.8 35.7 32.9
    By African-American/Black Men 2.7 2.6 2.8
    By African-American/Black Women 2.9 4.1 3.5
    By Asian Men 4.1 5.1 4.6
    By Asian Women 5.3 4.2 5.7
    By Hispanic Men 2.4 3.0 2.1
    By Hispanic Women 2.5 2.0 2.9
Total Number of Jobs Taken in Firms of 251-500 * 984 759 864
% of Jobs Taken in Firms of 501+ Lawyers:
    By White Men 40.6 40.5 39.4
    By White Women 32.9 32.5 31.5
    By African-American/Black Men 2.6 2.6 2.6
    By African-American/Black Women 3.7 3.4 3.4
    By Asian Men 5.8 6.0 6.4
    By Asian Women 7.3 8.0 8.4
    By Hispanic Men 2.2 2.0 2.9
    By Hispanic Women 2.6 2.4 2.9
Total Number of Jobs Taken in Firms of 501+ * 3,171 2,357 3,082

* Number of law firm jobs for which graduate demographics were reported.
Source: Compiled from NALP’s graduate employment surveys (ERSS) for class years 2010-2012.

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