Women and Attorneys of Color Continue to Make Small Gains at Large Law Firms
11-07-2003

Recent research from NALP reveals that attorneys of color account for 4.04% of the partners in the nation's major law firms and that women account for 16.81% 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 2002. 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 2003-2004 NALP Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. The 2003-2004 Directory consisted primarily of large firm listings and included attorney demographic information for almost 117,000 partners, associates, staff attorneys and senior attorneys in about 625 firms nationwide.

The current data reveals that, nationally, women attorneys hold 43.02% of associate or staff/senior attorney positions and that attorneys of color hold 14.63% of these positions. Each group lagged in their representation by about 5 percentage points compared to the population of recent law school graduates. Attorneys of color are defined as including African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Hispanics of any race, and multi-cultural individuals. Women attorneys and attorneys of color were best represented among summer associates; 18.67% of summer associates were of color, while women accounted for about 49% of summer associates, as illustrated in the attached table.

A parallel analysis of the 40 cities with the most attorneys represented in the Directory revealed considerable variations in these measures. Among the largest of these cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco consistently show higher numbers of both women attorneys and attorneys of color across all levels. Attorneys of color accounted for 7.02% and 6.19% of partners in these cities respectively, and women accounted for 18.24% and 21.43% of partners respectively.

Among smaller cities, this was true of Miami, where women accounted for 19.72% of partners; attorneys of color, many of whom are Hispanic, accounted for 19.41% of partners. Some cities ranked high on specific measures. For example, cities with relatively high percentages of women partners include: Austin, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Raleigh/Durham, San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle - all of whom reported at least 18% women partners. Austin and San Jose had relatively high percentages of partners of color.

Offices in Houston, 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, Denver, Indianapolis, Miami, and San Francisco. Conversely, some cities, such as Birmingham, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Milwaukee, Nashville, Northern Virginia, 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 was also reflected in figures for summer associates; summer associates of color accounted for almost half of those reported in the city. Other cities ranking relatively high on this measure included Austin, Baltimore, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the San Jose area.

A similar analysis of 6 states with substantial Directory representation beyond that for specific cities also yielded interesting findings. Representation of attorneys of color among partners was highest in California, Florida and Texas, and considerably below average in New Jersey, Michigan, and New York. Michigan and New York were also well below average with respect to minority representation among associates. Conversely, Michigan stands out with the highest percentage of minority summer associates.

Women and Attorneys of Color at Law Firms — 2003

  Partners Associates Summer Associates # of Offices
Total # % Women % of Color Total # % Women % of Color Total # % Women % of Color
Nationwide 52,958 16.81% 4.04% 62,722 43.02% 14.63% 9,793 49.2% 18.67% 1,358
Firms of:
100 or fewer 7,989 16.21 3.87 6,232 40.79 10.83 952 46.43 12.92 303
101-250 14,163 16.36 3.25 12,773 43.11 11.73 1,840 48.37 16.3 290
251-500 12,800 17.28 3.65 13,790 43.49 13.55 2,121 50.26 17.26 315
501+ 18,006 17.09 5.01 29,927 43.23 17.16 4,880 49.59 21.29 450
Offices in:
Atlanta 1,531 16.59 3.85 1,913 43.6 13.02 384 51.3 15.89 34
Austin 443 18.74 6.55 472 40.25 12.08 86 52.33 31.4 21
Baltimore 493 17.44 3.45 365 46.85 5.75 43 60.47 34.88 9
Birmingham 394 10.15 1.52 264 37.5 4.55 101 39.6 5.94 7
Boston 1,821 20.76 3.02 2,479 45.34 10.69 348 48.28 14.37 32
Charlotte 474 11.18 2.53 451 38.14 7.32 88 40.91 13.64 15
Chicago 3,992 17.59 3.41 3,713 41.53 11.77 699 48.21 16.6 57
Cincinnati 455 14.51 1.98 404 44.8 4.95 73 39.73 20.55 11
Cleveland 694 14.84 3.31 723 41.63 5.95 139 48.92 20.14 13
Columbus 595 14.79 3.87 512 37.89 8.98 99 53.54 28.28 14
Dallas 1,549 17.11 3.94 1,796 39.59 11.47 466 47.42 13.09 35
Denver 537 23.84 3.91 474 48.52 12.45 51 64.71 19.61 18
Detroit area 913 17.63 4.05 567 43.03 10.93 78 39.74 20.51 17
Hartford 459 14.38 0.87 521 45.11 6.53 43 53.49 11.63 14
Houston 1,213 16.74 4.78 1,445 39.58 21.45 405 49.88 18.52 32
Indianapolis 442 15.16 2.49 390 49.23 5.64 55 41.82 18.18 6
Kansas City area 647 12.98 1.7 588 43.2 6.97 95 46.32 9.47 11
Los Angeles 2,363 18.24 7.02 3,334 46.67 20.97 545 49.36 23.3 78
Miami 639 19.72 19.41 530 47.74 38.11 71 36.62 49.3 21
Milwaukee 675 16.3 1.04 498 37.35 8.23 86 46.51 20.93 9
Minneapolis/St. Paul 1,232 18.02 1.95 937 45.04 9.93 146 49.32 21.23 21
Nashville 364 15.11 2.2 265 40 5.28 72 37.5 5.56 9
New York City 6,257 14.1 4.03 13,890 42.57 18.65 2,099 49.17 21.01 131
Newark 420 12.62 1.67 626 45.53 10.86 60 53.33 25 12
Northern Virginia 311 10.29 3.86 358 27.93 12.85 38 44.74 7.89 20
Orange Co., CA 453 13.25 3.31 623 38.36 16.69 74 45.95 14.86 24
Philadelphia 1,627 16.9 2.21 1,775 44.39 8.11 245 53.47 21.22 23
Phoenix 613 16.8 3.43 529 41.21 12.29 91 46.15 8.79 15
Pittsburgh 670 16.57 1.34 660 40.3 5.3 85 51.76 14.12 15
Portland, OR 506 17.79 2.17 360 42.22 8.06 43 44.19 20.93 14
Raleigh/Durham 240 18.33 0.83 209 44.98 6.22 33 54.55 9.09 10
Richmond 520 14.04 2.5 426 38.03 7.51 92 46.74 10.87 9
San Diego 444 18.69 4.5 588 41.16 16.5 66 37.88 7.58 18
San Francisco 1,535 21.43 6.19 2,146 48.79 20.83 252 60.32 26.98 57
San Jose area 700 18.14 8.14 1,560 40.06 25.58 171 50.88 26.9 33
Seattle area 1,008 18.45 5.26 785 44.71 14.52 85 58.82 24.71 33
St. Louis 593 16.53 2.02 477 44.23 9.22 57 50.88 8.77 9
Tampa/St. Petersburg 364 14.29 4.12 293 39.93 9.56 41 48.78 9.76 13
Washington, D.C. 4,935 17.24 4.4 6,409 42.89 15.54 1,013 48.57 19.55 129
Wilmington 283 12.72 0.71 295 40 8.47 55 43.64 10.91 11
States:
California 472 19.28 6.57 469 42.64 19.83 70 44.29 18.57 22
Florida 624 17.31 7.05 430 46.98 14.42 46 50 6.52 25
Michigan 468 12.82 1.71 265 38.11 6.42 32 43.75 25 13
New Jersey 581 15.32 1.38 691 43.7 10.56 72 50 18.06 18
New York 649 15.25 1.85 533 39.77 7.5 44 56.82 9.09 14
Texas 322 16.15 7.76 263 39.54 13.31 52 40.38 21.15 18

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. For law firms that reported firm-wide information on attorneys of color for each office listing, demographic information was retained for just one office, usually the "home" 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, Mountain View, 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. The Newark area includes offices in Newark, West Orange, and Roseland. A few offices in Canada and Puerto Rico are included; offices in Europe and Asia are excluded.

Source: The 2003-2004 NALP Directory of Legal Employers.

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