Presence of Women and Attorneys of Color in Large Law Firms Continues to Rise Slowly
11-15-2000

Recent research from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) reveals that attorneys of color account for 3.35% of the partners in the nation's major law firms and that women account for 15.63% of the partners in these firms. These numbers suggest that, relative to total headcounts, women attorneys and attorneys of color are under-represented among partnership ranks at these firms. However, these figures also document a continuing, albeit small, increase from data compiled in 1999. Attorneys of color are defined as including African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Hispanics of any race. The presence of women attorneys and attorneys of color in large law firms has been rising steadily since 1993 — at that time attorneys of color accounted for 2.55% and women accounted for 12.27% of partners.

These are among the findings of NALP's recent analyses of the 2000-2001 National Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. The 2000 Directory consisted primarily of large firm listings and included attorney demographic information for about 104,000 partners, associates, staff attorneys and senior attorneys in about 675 firms nationwide.

The current data reveals that, nationally, women attorneys and attorneys of color 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 12.86% were attorneys of color. Women attorneys and attorneys of color were best represented among summer associates; 17.28% of summer associates were of color, while women accounted for about 46% of summer associates, as illustrated in the attached table.

A parallel analysis of the 30 cities with the most individual law offices listed in the Directory revealed considerable variations of these measures. Among the largest of these cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco were the most consistently high in representation of both women attorneys and attorneys of color across all levels. Attorneys of color accounted for 6.59% and 5.34% of partners in these cities respectively, and women attorneys accounted for 16.33% and 20.74% of partners respectively. Among smaller cities, Austin, Denver, and San Diego also reported a higher than average representation of women partners. Miami had the highest percentage of partners of color (15.68%) of all cities, followed by the San Jose area at 7.76%.

Offices in Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and the San Jose area ranked highest on representation of attorneys of color among associates, where representation was one in five or greater. Representation of women among associates was highest in Boston, Denver, San Francisco, and the Seattle area. Conversely, some cities, such as Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Tampa/St. Petersburg were below average on both measures.

Miami's higher representation of attorneys of color (most of whom are reported as Hispanic) was also reflected in figures for summer associates; summer associates of color accounted for 45.95% of those reported. Other cities ranking relatively high on this measure included Hartford, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the San Jose area.

A similar analysis of 11 states with substantial Directory representation beyond that for specific cities also yielded interesting findings. Generally, representation of women attorneys and attorneys of color among partners, associates, and summer associates was below average.

Women and Attorneys of Color at Law Firms — 2000

   Partners Associates Summer Associates # of offices
Total # Percent women Percent of color Total # Percent women Percent of color Total # Percent women Percent of color
Nationwide 47,999 15.63% 3.35% 56,330 41.69% 12.86% 12,260 46.26% 17.28% 1,282
Firms of:
100 or fewer 8,945 15.53% 3.71% 6,832 40.13% 11.11% 1,315 45.02% 14.75% 346
101-250 14,405 15.02% 2.80% 13,708 41.44% 10.64% 2,751 46.86% 15.34% 329
251-500 12,662 16.41% 3.17% 15,626 43.01% 12.98% 3,647 46.56% 17.82% 310
501+ 11,984 15.61% 3.92% 20,153 41.40% 14.87% 4,547 46.01% 18.76% 296
Offices in:
Atlanta 1,235 14.41% 2.27% 1,498 40.59% 10.41% 372 54.03% 18.01% 29
Austin 387 18.09% 3.88% 407 39.80% 11.55% 169 34.91% 17.75% 20
Boston 1,598 16.58% 2.44% 2,201 44.98% 9.27% 472 47.25% 11.44% 29
Charlotte 343 8.75% 2.95% 359 35.93% 5.01% 83 39.76% 13.25% 12
Chicago 3,597 16.32% 2.67% 3,421 41.63% 10.52% 827 46.80% 14.75% 59
Cincinnati 380 12.63% 1.58% 334 44.61% 3.89% 74 41.89% 14.86% 11
Cleveland 681 13.51% 3.08% 691 37.77% 6.37% 161 41.61% 11.18% 12
Columbus 570 13.16% 2.81% 458 38.65% 8.52% 91 46.15% 10.99% 15
Dallas 1,318 16.39% 2.91% 1,516 41.49% 11.15% 546 41.58% 11.90% 34
Denver 508 20.28% 2.95% 414 49.52% 8.70% 71 52.11% 16.90% 21
Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach 143 16.78% 3.48% 140 42.86% 6.43% 19 36.84% 15.79% 13
Hartford 242 14.05% 1.23% 251 42.63% 6.77% 42 40.48% 26.19% 10
Houston 1,064 16.54% 3.20% 1,233 37.47% 14.11% 439 46.92% 10.71% 30
Kansas City area 639 12.05% 1.10% 607 40.20% 5.11% 128 55.47% 5.47% 12
Los Angeles 2,247 16.33% 6.59% 3,042 40.73% 21.93% 713 47.41% 26.93% 79
Miami 440 17.73% 15.68% 385 43.90% 33.25% 74 55.41% 45.95% 19
Minneapolis/St. Paul 1,108 16.43% 1.26% 783 43.04% 9.58% 208 45.67% 12.50% 19
New York City 5,986 13.68% 3.18% 12,906 41.55% 15.33% 2,523 44.71% 20.49% 135
Orange County, CA 444 14.86% 2.93% 589 38.71% 15.11% 135 36.30% 14.07% 25
Philadelphia 1,259 16.68% 2.22% 1,284 44.08% 7.32% 260 47.69% 11.15% 18
Phoenix 572 15.91% 2.97% 456 38.60% 10.31% 121 47.93% 17.36% 14
Pittsburgh 504 16.07% 1.77% 525 34.86% 5.14% 104 43.27% 12.50% 11
Portland, OR 502 16.33% 3.59% 347 37.18% 10.09% 76 48.68% 3.95% 17
San Diego 387 19.90% 3.36% 474 44.51% 10.55% 106 41.51% 14.15% 17
San Francisco 1,244 20.74% 5.34% 1,579 50.92% 20.39% 361 50.69% 29.92% 45
San Jose area 644 16.46% 7.76% 1,600 41.31% 24.50% 413 38.74% 23.73% 29
Seattle area 911 18.11% 4.17% 670 45.82% 12.09% 140 47.86% 17.14% 28
St. Louis area 581 14.97% 1.55% 472 41.95% 7.42% 84 48.81% 16.67% 10
Tampa/St. Petersburg 385 13.25% 1.56% 287 36.24% 4.88% 49 38.78% 6.12% 14
Washington, D.C. 4,773 16.26% 3.46% 6,028 42.05% 13.84% 1,332 48.05% 18.39% 131
States:
California 498 19.68% 6.63% 468 40.81% 17.95% 69 52.17% 23.19% 24
Delaware 237 13.50% 0.84% 217 37.79% 6.91% 50 46.00% 10.00% 10
Florida 429 13.99% 5.36% 308 41.88% 11.36% 41 51.22% 9.76% 18
Indiana 468 14.96% 1.71% 410 42.20% 5.85% 81 43.21% 16.05% 11
Michigan 1,112 15.47% 3.15% 609 41.38% 10.51% 162 52.47% 15.43% 28
New Jersey 823 13.49% 1.58% 1,105 42.99% 8.14% 139 48.20% 15.83% 25
New York 737 14.52% 1.09% 548 39.23% 6.65% 74 54.05% 13.51% 17
Tennessee 416 13.46% 1.20% 324 41.98% 4.32% 93 45.16% 10.75% 13
Texas 291 14.09% 6.87% 238 36.55% 9.24% 70 22.86% 17.14% 12
Virginia 820 10.73% 2.07% 704 35.51% 7.10% 133 44.36% 12.03% 24
Wisconsin 719 14.46% 0.70% 526 37.45% 6.08% 132 49.24% 12.88% 12

Note: The count of offices, shown in the last column, indicates the number of offices with demographic information on partners and associates. The number of offices with demographics for summer associates is somewhat less. The associates category includes senior and staff attorneys. The Kansas City area includes offices in Leawood and Overland Park, Kansas. Orange County includes offices in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. The San Jose area includes offices in Cupertino, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Sunnyvale. The Seattle area includes offices in Bellevue and Kirkland. State information excludes any cities listed separately. Foreign offices are excluded from the nationwide and firm size analyses.

Source: National Association for Law Placement, 2000 National Directory of Legal Employers.

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