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
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.
|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.|