Minorities at Private and Public Sector Employers

NALP Bulletin, April 2003 

Analyses of the 2002 NALP Directory of Legal Employers show that minority attorneys are relatively more common at government and public interest organizations than at law firms. Minorities accounted for 3.71% of the more than 49,000 partners collectively reported by law firms. Among a far smaller number of public service employers, minorities accounted for 12% of the more than 7,000 supervising attorneys reported.

The composition of the minority attorney population also differs between the two types of employers. In law firms overall, African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics were relatively equally represented among partners. At public service employers, African-Americans accounted for almost half of the reported minority supervising attorneys. (The small number of Native Americans — 54 partners and 14 supervising attorneys — are not analyzed in any detail here.)

Among the more than 61,000 associates reported by law firms, one in seven (14.3%) were minorities, with Asian/Pacific Islanders accounting for half of them. Public service employers reported that one in five (20%) of the nearly 18,000 staff attorneys were minorities. Among this group, African-Americans were most common (45% of the total), followed by Hispanics.

The presence of minority partners and associates at law firms varies by firm size and across cities. For example:

 

  • The percentage of minority partners as a whole is highest at firms of 501 or more attorneys, and African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Pacific Islanders are about equally represented. In contrast, at the smallest firms, Asian/Pacific Islander partners are twice as common as African-American or Hispanic partners.

  • Miami's minority partners are overwhelmingly Hispanic, whereas in Seattle and San Jose, Asian/Pacific Islanders account for the largest share of minority partners. These differences track the population characteristics of these areas.

  • In cities such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Richmond, most minority partners are African-American, whereas in cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee, no one group accounts for the bulk of minority partners.

  • As is the case with partners, most minority associates in Miami are Hispanic. Half or more of minority associates in New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Seattle are Asian/Pacific Islander. Most minority associates in Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, and Richmond are African-American.

Attorney Demographics at Private Sector Employers — 2002


Total # of partners % Minority % African- American % Asian/P. Islander % Hispanic Total # of associates % Minority % African-American % Asian/P. Islander % Hispanic
Overall 49,415 3.71% 1.32% 1.18% 1.09% 61,141 14.27% 4.23% 6.99% 2.84%
100 or fewer attorneys 7,530 3.48 0.86 1.73 0.82 5,922 10.11 2.97 4.44 2.48
101-250 attorneys 13,324 2.87 1.21 0.77 0.80 12,808 11.69 3.73 5.45 2.31
251-500 attorneys 12,464 3.66 1.49 0.96 1.06 14,688 13.15 4.58 5.79 2.52
501+ attorneys 16,097 4.54 1.50 1.45 1.48 27,723 16.94 4.55 8.87 3.32
Atlanta 1,460 3.36 2.88 0.14 0.27 1,838 13.17 8.43 3.43 1.14
Austin 388 4.64 1.29 0.00 3.09 494 14.78 3.24 5.26 5.26
Baltimore 487 3.08 2.46 0.21 0.41 370 8.11 4.86 2.70 0.54
Boston 1,600 2.81 1.06 1.25 0.44 2,530 10.59 2.69 6.13 1.74
Charlotte 461 2.82 1.08 1.08 0.43 469 7.25 6.18 0.43 0.64
Chicago 4,170 3.07 1.29 0.91 0.84 3,954 10.82 3.74 5.24 1.75
Cincinnati 425 2.12 1.88 0.24 0.00 409 4.16 2.93 1.22 0.00
Cleveland 589 3.23 2.55 0.68 0.00 653 5.21 2.60 1.84 0.61
Columbus 522 3.45 2.49 0.57 0.00 462 8.66 4.33 2.60 1.30
Dallas 1,527 3.60 0.98 0.52 1.51 1,800 11.22 3.50 3.06 4.33
Denver 498 2.81 1.41 0.60 0.80 459 11.55 3.49 2.18 5.45
Detroit area 815 4.17 3.80 0.12 0.25 500 11.40 7.00 2.80 1.40
Hartford 438 0.91 0.68 0.00 0.23 509 8.45 3.93 2.16 2.16
Houston 1,128 4.08 1.06 0.18 2.66 1,351 14.73 5.11 4.59 4.96
Indianapolis 451 2.44 1.55 0.67 0.22 405 6.17 3.95 1.23 0.99
Kansas City area 585 1.71 1.03 0.34 0.34 568 5.99 3.70 0.70 1.58
Los Angeles 2,334 7.41 1.63 3.38 2.10 3,418 21.71 3.80 12.52 4.74
Miami 481 19.13 1.87 0.83 16.22 477 36.27 4.40 1.47 30.40
Milwaukee 684 1.17 0.29 0.29 0.44 506 6.92 3.16 2.57 0.99
Minneapolis/St. Paul 1,109 1.53 0.54 0.27 0.45 903 9.41 3.32 4.32 1.11
Nashville 326 2.15 2.15 0.00 0.00 248 5.24 3.23 0.81 1.21
New York City 5,854 3.88 1.06 1.61 1.18 12,814 17.91 4.53 10.06 3.26
Newark 242 1.24 0.83 0.00 0.41 374 11.76 5.35 4.01 2.41
Orange Co., CA 444 2.93 0.45 1.80 0.68 627 16.75 0.96 12.76 2.87
Philadelphia 1,610 2.30 1.61 0.37 0.25 1,618 8.47 3.34 4.02 0.99
Phoenix 574 2.96 0.70 0.52 1.57 527 12.14 2.66 4.93 3.98
Pittsburgh 609 1.15 0.33 0.66 0.16 625 6.40 2.08 3.20 1.12
Portland, OR 471 2.34 0.42 0.85 0.85 387 7.49 1.55 4.13 1.29
Raleigh/Durham 239 0.84 0.84 0.00 0.00 210 4.76 2.86 0.95 0.48
Richmond 475 3.16 2.32 0.21 0.42 422 8.53 6.16 1.66 0.71
San Diego 423 4.49 0.47 2.13 1.89 640 14.53 2.03 7.19 4.84
San Francisco 1,475 5.63 1.22 2.78 1.42 2,122 21.30 2.87 14.42 3.86
San Jose area 706 8.92 0.71 6.09 1.56 1,820 26.65 2.69 20.77 2.75
Seattle area 865 4.62 1.04 3.01 0.23 805 13.79 3.23 7.45 2.24
St. Louis 572 1.92 1.22 0.35 0.35 449 9.13 5.57 1.78 1.11
Tampa/St. Petersburg 345 3.48 0.29 0.00 3.19 252 9.52 3.97 1.19 4.37
Washington, DC 5,177 4.11 1.91 1.10 1.02 6,824 15.39 6.37 6.37 2.33
Wilmington, DE 262 0.76 0.38 0.38 0.00 269 7.43 4.09 1.86 1.49

Source: The 2002 NALP Directory of Legal Employers. A total of 1,266 U.S. law offices and 115 U.S. government/public interest employers are represented. For law firms that repeated firmwide information on attorneys of color for each office listing, demographic information was retained for just one office to avoid double counting. 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 Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Sunnyvale. The Seattle area includes offices in Bellevue and Kirkland. The Detroit area includes offices in Bloomfield Hills, Bingham Farms, and Southfield.

Attorney Demographics at Public Service Employers


Total number % Minority % African-American % Asian/P. Islander % Hispanic
Supervising attorneys 7,349 12.0% 5.84% 2.38% 3.59%
Staff attorneys 17,774 19.95 8.98 5.11 5.54

Source: The 2002 NALP Directory of Legal Employers.

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