Dearth of Women and Attorneys of Color Remains in Law Firms
12-03-2001

Recent research from NALP reveals that attorneys of color account for 3.55% of the partners in the nation's major law firms and that women account for 15.80% 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 2000. 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 2001-2002 National Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. The 2001 Directory consisted primarily of large firm listings and included attorney demographic information for about 108,000 partners, associates, staff attorneys and senior attorneys in about 625 firms nationwide.

The current data reveals that, nationally, women attorneys hold 41.94% of positions as associates or staff/senior attorneys, thus quite closely reflecting their respective representation among recent law school graduates. However, at 13.70%, attorneys of color lagged in their representation among recent graduates. Attorneys of color are defined as including African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Hispanics of any race. Women attorneys and attorneys of color were best represented among summer associates; 17.26% of summer associates were of color, while women accounted for about 48% of summer associates, as illustrated in the attached table.

A parallel analysis of the 38 cities with the most attorneys accounted for 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 6.76% and 5.37% of partners in these cities respectively, and women attorneys accounted for 16.50% and 21.81% of partners respectively. Among smaller cities, Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Hartford, Miami, San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle also reported a higher than average representation of women partners. Miami had the highest percentage of partners of color (18.84%) of all cities, followed by the San Jose area at 7.53%.

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 Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Hartford, and San Francisco. Conversely, some cities, such as Birmingham, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and Wilmington 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 half of those reported. Other cities ranking relatively high on this measure included Detroit, Richmond, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the San Jose area.

A similar analysis of 7 states with substantial Directory representation beyond that for specific cities also yielded interesting findings. In New Jersey and Virginia, representation of women attorneys and attorneys of color among partners, associates, and summer associates was generally below average, whereas the opposite was true of Texas and California.

Women and Attorneys of Color at Law Firms — 2001

   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 48,540 15.80% 3.55% 59,564 41.94% 13.70% 12,720 48.23% 17.26% 1,279
Firms of:
100 or fewer 7,730 15.42% 3.61% 5,987 40.97% 9.75% 1,145 48.38% 11.53% 294
101-250 14,056 15.40% 2.96% 13,614 41.79% 11.41% 2,597 47.75% 15.25% 313
251-500 12,336 16.38% 3.40% 15,760 43.40% 13.01% 3,437 48.47% 18.10% 304
501+ 14,366 15.90% 4.25% 24,182 41.30% 16.43% 5,541 48.28% 18.88% 367
Offices in:
Atlanta 1,333 15.23% 3.15% 1,675 41.19% 12.30% 428 52.10% 18.22% 31
Austin 402 19.15% 4.98% 549 39.16% 12.75% 220 51.36% 16.82% 21
Baltimore 493 17.24% 3.85% 368 48.91% 8.97% 46 52.17% 19.57% 9
Birmingham 357 10.08% 1.85% 220 40.45% 3.64% 9 44.44% 0.00% 6
Boston 1,741 16.66% 2.47% 2,612 45.37% 10.11% 518 48.07% 12.74% 29
Charlotte 364 8.79% 2.83% 372 35.75% 5.91% 87 51.72% 13.79% 12
Chicago 3,788 16.39% 2.80% 3,719 41.92% 10.14% 906 45.03% 14.24% 60
Cincinnati 321 12.46% 1.44% 252 51.59% 3.97% 54 44.44% 11.11% 9
Cleveland 723 13.42% 3.32% 737 39.35% 6.24% 173 48.55% 16.18% 13
Columbus 581 13.94% 2.93% 493 38.74% 8.11% 103 43.69% 20.39% 15
Dallas 1,338 16.37% 3.25% 1,615 42.17% 10.90% 578 45.16% 13.49% 36
Denver 522 22.41% 2.68% 477 43.19% 10.48% 80 51.25% 17.50% 21
Detroit area 585 19.66% 4.31% 324 42.59% 12.96% 59 54.24% 22.03% 12
Hartford 257 17.12% 0.94% 264 45.08% 7.20% 38 39.47% 10.53% 10
Houston 1,095 15.62% 3.08% 1,292 39.47% 13.47% 402 46.52% 13.68% 30
Indianapolis 299 16.39% 2.05% 238 44.96% 7.14% 55 47.27% 14.55% 7
Kansas City area 524 12.79% 1.07% 547 42.23% 6.03% 113 46.90% 12.39% 11
Los Angeles 2,224 16.50% 6.76% 3,196 42.24% 23.31% 689 50.80% 22.21% 79
Miami 401 21.95% 18.84% 373 44.77% 34.05% 68 44.12% 50.00% 19
Milwaukee 675 14.96% 1.19% 516 39.53% 6.4% 123 40.65% 13.01% 9
Minneapolis/St. Paul 1,088 16.18% 1.19% 887 41.26% 9.92% 211 48.34% 14.69% 20
Nashville 256 12.50% 1.56% 229 41.92% 2.62% 62 58.06% 11.29% 7
New Orleans 306 16.99% 3.23% 201 43.28% 7.46% 69 47.83% 8.70% 6
New York City 5,757 13.53% 3.65% 12,281 41.70% 16.80% 2,649 48.70% 21.33% 132
Orange County, CA 431 13.69% 3.25% 631 37.88% 15.69% 133 51.13% 15.04% 23
Philadelphia 1,033 18.68% 1.99% 1,146 43.72% 8.81% 214 57.48% 19.63% 17
Phoenix 563 15.99% 2.49% 500 37.00% 12.00% 115 40.00% 20.00% 13
Pittsburgh 567 14.64% 1.34% 603 38.64% 5.80% 106 40.57% 5.66% 13
Portland, OR 413 15.50% 2.66% 334 43.11% 11.08% 62 50.00% 11.29% 13
Richmond 480 13.13% 3.54% 407 38.57% 8.85% 97 45.36% 29.90% 8
San Diego 365 21.10% 3.56% 565 37.70% 13.45% 103 45.63% 14.56% 15
San Francisco 1,215 21.81% 5.37% 1,703 49.62% 19.67% 353 55.52% 26.06% 41
San Jose area 672 18.75% 7.53% 2,080 40.38% 25.91% 410 42.93% 22.68% 31
Seattle area 899 18.80% 5.45% 819 43.96% 13.80% 178 47.75% 14.61% 30
St. Louis 499 15.03% 1.40% 412 42.23% 9.71% 70 42.86% 8.57% 8
Tampa/St. Petersburg 369 14.63% 2.71% 243 35.80% 7.82% 38 44.74% 7.89% 13
Washington, D.C. 5,108 16.37% 3.80% 6,715 41.79% 14.10% 1,438 51.39% 15.37% 134
Wilmington 229 13.54% 0.44% 224 38.39% 8.48% 67 38.81% 14.93% 9
States:
California 407 18.92% 7.13% 414 43.96% 16.91% 70 52.86% 21.43% 20
Florida 558 16.13% 5.38% 441 40.36% 14.51% 47 46.81% 23.40% 24
Michigan 393 12.47% 1.78% 228 38.16% 4.82% 60 36.67% 15.00% 14
New Jersey 808 13.99% 1.73% 1,142 42.56% 10.60% 148 58.78% 18.92% 24
New York 685 14.45% 1.02% 585 39.49% 7.14% 66 56.06% 9.09% 15
Texas 317 16.09% 6.94% 275 42.18% 13.09% 69 44.93% 27.54% 16
Virginia 384 8.59% 2.60% 412 29.85% 8.98% 61 49.18% 9.84% 21

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. Orange County includes offices in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. Portland, Oregon includes offices in Lake Oswego. 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 these analyses.

Source: NALP, 2001 National Directory of Legal Employers.

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