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
Note: The associates category includes senior attorneys and staff
|Addtional Info:||About NALP: Founded in 1971 as the National Association for Law Placement, Inc.,® NALP — The Association for Legal Career Professionals — is dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers. To contact NALP, call 202-835-1001.|