Presence of Women and Attorneys of Color Continues to Rise at Large Law Firms - 1998
02-03-1999

The most recent research from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) reveals that attorneys of color in the nation's major law firms account for 3.07% of the partners in these firms, and that female attorneys account for 14.55% of the partners in these firms. Although these numbers indicate that women attorneys and attorneys of color are under-represented among partnership ranks at these firms, the figures also document a continuing, albeit small, increase from data compiled in 1997.

These are among the findings of NALP's recent analyses of the 1998-1999 National Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. The 1998 Directory consisted primarily of large firm listings and included attorney demographic information for almost 91,000 partners, associates, staff attorneys and senior attorneys in 630 firms nationwide.

The current data reveals that, nationally, women attorneys and attorneys of color who hold positions as associates or staff/senior associates closely reflected their respective representation among recent law school graduates. About two in five associates and staff/senior attorneys (40.90%) were female attorneys, while 11.81% were attorneys of color. Women attorneys and attorneys of color were best represented among summer associates; 18.47% of summer associates were attorneys of color, while women accounted for 44.41% of summer associates.

A parallel analysis of the 26 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 attorneys and attorneys of color across all levels. Attorneys of color accounted for 4.60% and women for 18.29% of partners reported in San Francisco. Among smaller cities, Austin, Texas and Palo Alto, California also reported a higher than average representation of both female partners and partners of color. Miami had the highest percentage of partners of color (18.21%) of all cities, and Denver had the highest percentage of female partners (19.80%).

Offices in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and San Francisco ranked highest on representation of attorneys of color among associates, where representation was on in five or greater. Representation of women among associates in San Francisco and Miami was also high, about 47%, but representation of women among associates in Menlo Park and Palo Alto was about average. Austin and Baltimore also showed high percentages of female associates -- 47.47% and 49.48% respectively.

Miami's higher representation of attorneys of color was also reflected in figures for summer associates -- summer associates of color accounted for 41.27% of those reported. Miami was followed by San Francisco and Palo Alto in terms of summer associates of color. With the exception of San Francisco, cities with the highest representation of female summer associates tended to be smaller cities. Baltimore, Hartford, Tampa, Portland, Boston, Philadelphia, and Seattle also reported somewhat higher than average proportions of women among the ranksof summer associates.

A similar analysis of eleven states with substantial Directory representation outside of the specific cities also yielded interesting findings. Generally representation of women attorneys and attorneys of color among partners and associates was below average except in Texas, where partners of color fared somewhat better, and New York, where female associates had a stronger showing. Representatio of these groups was only somewhat better in summer programs, as evidenced by states such as Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey.

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