Presence of Women and Attorneys of Color in Large Law Firms Rising Slowly but Steadily - 1999
11-18-1999

Recent research from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) reveals that attorneys of color account for 3.25% of the partners in the nation's major law firms and that women account for 15.04% of the partners in these firms. Although these numbers indicate that women and minorities are under-represented among partnership ranks at these firms, these figures also document a continuing, albeit small, increase from data compiled in 1998. Minorities are defined as including African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Hispanics of any race. The presence of these attorneys in large law firms has been rising steadily since 1993 - the presence of women partners has risen from 12.27% to 15.04% in that time period, and the presence of minority partners has risen from 2.55% in 1993 to 3.25% in 1999.

These are among the findings of NALP's recent analyses of the 1999-2000 National Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. The 1999 Directory consisted primarily of large firm listings and included attorney demographic information for almost 103,000 partners, associates, staff attorneys and senior attorneys in about 655 firms nationwide.

The current data reveals that, nationally, women and minorities who hold positions as associates or staff/senior attorneys closely reflected their respective representation among recent law school graduates. A plurality of associates and staff/senior attorneys were women, while 12.06% were attorneys of color. Women and minorities were best represented among summer associates; 17.67% of summer associates were of color, while women accounted for almost 46% of summer associates, as illustrated in the attached table.

A parallel analysis of the 28 cities with the most individual law offices listed in the Directory revealed considerable variations of these measures. Among the largest of these cities, San Francisco was the most consistently high in representation of both women and minorities across all levels, with minorities accounting for 5.25% and women for 18.26% of partners reported. Among smaller cities, Austin, Texas and San Diego, California also reported a higher than average representation of women partners. Miami had the highest percentage of partners of color (19.31%) of all cities, and Denver had the highest percentage of women partners (21.54%).

Offices in Los Angeles, Menlo Park, Miami, Portland and San Francisco ranked highest on representation of minorities among associates, where representation was one in five or greater. Representation of women among associates was highest in Denver, Irvine, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. Conversely, some cities, such as Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Tampa were below average on both measures.

Miami's higher representation of minorities (most of whom are reported as Hispanic) was also reflected in figures for summer associates; summer associates of color accounted for 57.75% of those reported. Cities where more than half of summer associates were women included Boston, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

A similar analysis of six states with substantial Directory representation on a statewide basis also yielded interesting findings. Generally representation of women and minorities among partners, associates, and summer associates was below average. Firms in Michigan came closest to meeting or exceeding national averages.

Women and Attorneys of Color at Law Firms — 1999

  Partners Associates Summer Associates
Total # % Women % of Color Total # % Women % of Color Total # % Women % of Color
Nationwide 46,479 15.04% 3.25% 55,157 41.39% 12.06% 11,574 45.97% 17.67%
Firms of:
100 or fewer 9,002 14.91% 3.44% 6,983 39.87% 10.65% 1,317 44.42% 14.20%
101-250 14,907 14.97% 2.82% 13,791 40.84% 11.09% 2,915 46.52% 15.81%
251+ 22,549 15.14% 3.46% 34,365 41.92% 12.75% 7,341 46.03% 19.03%
Offices in:
Atlanta 1,199 13.84% 1.92% 1,417 42.20% 9.74% 350 46.86% 12.29%
Austin 389 19.28% 4.37% 372 42.74% 9.41% 158 46.84% 13.29%
Boston 1,578 16.16% 2.66% 2,045 44.01% 8.61% 456 51.97% 12.72%
Charlotte 266 8.27% 2.63% 270 33.33% 2.96% 53 28.30% 9.43%
Chicago 3,402 15.87% 2.47% 3,136 41.71% 10.08% 767 47.33% 13.43%
Cincinnati 415 13.01% 1.45% 333 42.94% 3.90% 74 52.70% 10.81%
Cleveland 658 12.31% 2.74% 632 38.45% 5.38% 152 41.45% 12.50%
Columbus 549 12.93% 2.37% 427 38.88% 6.32% 106 39.62% 13.21%
Dallas 1,289 16.29% 2.64% 1,491 40.64% 11.67% 553 40.14% 11.93%
Denver 469 21.54% 2.35% 388 45.36% 11.86% 67 47.76% 13.43%
Hartford 237 14.77% 0.42% 234 41.88% 6.41% 34 41.18% 2.94%
Houston 1,007 16.29% 3.28% 1,126 37.48% 11.81% 460 48.70% 18.48%
Irvine 112 18.75% 3.57% 157 47.77% 14.01% 35 40.00% 20.00%
Los Angeles 2,192 16.10% 6.11% 2,869 39.70% 21.47% 742 44.07% 25.47%
Menlo Park 73 12.33% 5.48% 150 40.67% 23.33% 59 40.68% 18.64%
Miami 404 16.34% 19.31% 349 41.26% 33.81% 71 38.03% 57.75%
Minneapolis 1,062 16.01% 1.04% 764 42.41% 8.51% 182 46.70% 17.58%
New York 5,443 13.10% 3.20% 10,968 40.38% 15.96% 2,347 44.65% 21.22%
Palo Alto 393 16.79% 7.12% 960 38.23% 21.04% 192 39.06% 25.52%
Philadelphia 1,085 15.48% 2.03% 1,147 43.68% 8.02% 215 52.09% 18.60%
Phoenix 584 14.90% 2.74% 420 40.00% 10.71% 98 44.90% 18.37%
Pittsburgh 477 15.72% 1.26% 444 36.04% 6.31% 91 48.35% 12.09%
Portland, OR 439 15.72% 1.59% 287 32.40% 28.92% 53 47.17% 11.32%
San Diego 335 20.00% 2.99% 350 46.00% 13.71% 75 38.67% 10.67%
San Francisco 1,276 18.26% 5.25% 1,591 47.77% 20.24% 315 53.02% 27.62%
Seattle 805 16.52% 2.86% 575 46.09% 14.26% 100 51.00% 20.00%
Tampa 369 14.63% 2.17% 265 34.34% 7.55% 48 43.75% 8.33%
Washington, DC 4,569 15.17% 3.30% 5,691 41.66% 12.79% 1,217 47.41% 19.97%
States:
Indiana 387 13.95% 1.81% 336 41.67% 7.44% 55 36.36% 7.27%
Michigan 1,038 14.64% 3.08% 544 42.46% 11.03% 121 41.32% 19.01%
Missouri 1,079 13.81% 1.67% 979 40.96% 6.33% 217 45.62% 11.52%
New Jersey 715 14.41% 1.82% 983 41.20% 9.46% 119 45.38% 17.65%
Virginia 729 10.97% 2.06% 627 34.77% 6.38% 99 43.43% 9.09%
Wisconsin 567 13.76% 0.71% 414 39.86% 6.76% 105 44.76% 14.29%

Note: The associates category includes senior attorneys and staff attorneys.
Source: National Association for Law Placement, 1999-2000 National Directory of Legal Employers

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