Presence of Women and Attorneys of Color in Large Law Firms Continues to Rise Slowly but Steadily
10-03-2002

Recent research from NALP reveals that attorneys of color account for 3.71% of the partners in the nation's major law firms and that women account for 16.30% 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 2001. 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 2002-2003 NALP Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. The 2002 Directory consisted primarily of large firm listings and included attorney demographic information for almost 111,000 partners, associates, staff attorneys and senior attorneys in about 615 firms nationwide.

The current data reveals that, nationally, women attorneys hold 42.42% of positions as associates or staff/senior attorneys, thus quite closely reflecting their respective representation among recent law school graduates. However, at 14.27%, 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; 19.19% 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 7.35% and 5.77% of partners in these cities respectively, and women accounted for 17.49% and 21.75% of partners, respectively. Offices in smaller cities - Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Raleigh/Durham, San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle - reported at least 18% of partners were women. Miami had the highest percentage of partners of color (19.13%) of all cities, followed by the San Jose area at 8.32%.

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 Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and Wilmington were below average on both measures, and considerably so with respect to associates of color.

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 almost half of those reported. Other cities ranking relatively high on this measure included Newark, 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 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. Representation of attorneys of color among associates and partners was lowest in Michigan and New York.

Women and Attorneys of Color at Law Firms — 2002

   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 49,415 16.30% 3.71% 61,141 42.42% 14.27% 10,698 48.22% 19.19% 1,266
Firms of:
100 or fewer 7,530 15.95 3.48 5,922 40.56 10.11 1,023 47.80 13.29 279
101-250 13,324 15.67 2.87 12,808 42.40 11.69 2,044 46.67 16.68 281
251-500 12,464 17.10 3.66 14,688 43.38 13.15 2,588 48.96 19.32 297
501+ 16,097 16.38 4.54 27,723 42.33 16.94 5,043 48.56 21.34 409
Offices in:
Atlanta 1,460 16.58 3.36 1,838 41.73 13.17 389 47.56 21.08 31
Austin 388 19.07 4.64 494 39.47 14.78 133 39.85 24.81 20
Baltimore 487 17.45 3.08 370 47.03 8.11 41 53.66 21.95 9
Boston 1,600 17.25 2.81 2,530 46.17 10.59 362 50.55 17.96 27
Charlotte 461 10.20 2.82 469 37.53 7.25 82 43.90 15.85 15
Chicago 4,170 17.10 2.82 3,954 41.78 10.82 696 46.12 18.53 62
Cincinnati 321 11.84 1.25 276 47.10 4.35 44 47.73 15.91 11
Cleveland 589 13.41 3.23 653 39.82 5.21 148 47.30 16.22 12
Columbus 522 14.18 3.45 462 38.31 8.66 67 47.76 11.94 12
Dallas 1,232 17.13 2.84 1,576 40.80 10.91 468 41.24 11.75 32
Denver 498 23.90 2.81 459 45.53 11.55 62 51.61 16.13 18
Detroit area 668 17.96 4.34 373 44.24 13.14 81 45.68 19.75 13
Hartford 270 15.56 0.74 279 47.31 7.89 35 54.29 11.43 11
Houston 1128 16.31 4.08 1351 38.86 14.73 455 47.91 18.68 29
Indianapolis 308 16.56 1.95 269 44.61 5.95 57 52.63 17.54 6
Kansas City area 508 12.99 1.71 568 45.77 5.99 983 48.98 10.20 11
Los Angeles 2287 17.49 7.35 33.28 43.81 21.75 553 50.63 26.94 79
Miami 481 19.96 19.13 477 47.38 36.27 64 42.19 46.88 20
Milwaukee 684 15.64 1.17 506 39.53 6.92 87 39.08 9.2 9
Minneapolis/St. Paul 1,109 16.50 1.53 903 43.41 9.41 150 48.00 17.33 18
Nashville 326 13.50 2.15 248 38.71 5.24 67 47.76 10.45 8
New York City 5,854 13.72 3.88 12,814 42.01 17.91 2,318 49.09 22.22 128
Newark 242 13.22 1.24 374 46.79 11.76 34 64.71 32.35 7
Orange County, CA 444 13.74 2.93 627 37.32 16.75 109 35.78 11.01 23
Philadelphia 1,420 18.87 2.32 1,442 42.37 8.74 203 49.26 15.76 21
Phoenix 574 16.20 2.96 527 38.14 12.14 101 46.43 16.83 13
Pittsburgh 506 15.22 1.19 542 37.27 7.2 86 44.19 6.98 12
Portland, OR 471 16.56 2.34 387 43.67 7.49 53 41.51 18.87 13
Raleigh/Durham 181 19.89 1.10 177 41.81 5.65 31 54.84 16.13 9
Richmond 475 14.11 3.16 422 39.10 8.53 61 39.34 13.11 8
San Diego 423 19.39 4.49 640 37.97 14.53 643 45.31 10.94 16
San Francisco 1,439 21.75 5.77 2,088 48.66 21.31 321 62.62 23.36 49
San Jose area 661 18.61 8.32 1771 39.47 26.82 233 48.50 30.91 28
Seattle area 865 18.61 4.62 805 46.71 13.79 948 52.13 24.47 29
St. Louis 572 17.13 1.92 449 42.54 9.13 64 48.44 7.81 8
Tampa/St. Petersburg 345 14.49 3.48 252 38.10 9.52 38 55.26 18.42 12
Washington, D.C. 5,177 16.92 4.11 6,824 42.76 15.39 1,197 48.96 18.05 131
Wilmington 262 13.36 0.76 269 37.92 7.43 56 44.64 14.29 9
States:
California 366 16.94 6.01 347 44.09 17.58 55 43.64 27.27 16
Florida 512 17.38 5.47 396 43.94 15.91 57 36.84 17.54 21
Michigan 371 13.75 1.62 214 37.85 6.07 38 47.37 15.79 11
New Jersey 607 13.84 1.81 774 41.73 9.82 86 54.65 17.44 18
New York 698 14.04 0.86 625 41.44 7.84 61 50.82 13.11 15
Texas 218 16.06 5.05 171 41.52 14.62 52 40.38 15.38 12
Virginia 410 9.02 2.44 420 30.95 12.38 59 44.07 13.56 25

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 Detroit area includes offices in Bingham Farms, Bloomfield Hills and Southfield. The Kansas City area includes offices Leawood and Overland Park. Orange County includes offices in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. Portland, OR includes offices in Lake Oswego. The San Jose area includes offices in 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, 2002 NALP Directory of Legal Employers.

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