Women and Attorneys of Color Continue to Make Only Small Gains at Large Law Firms
11-05-2004

Recent research from NALP reveals that attorneys of color account for 4.32% of the partners in the nation's major law firms and that women account for 17.06% of the partners in these firms. These numbers suggest that, relative to the attorney population as a whole, and relative to the demographic composition of law school enrollment, women attorneys and attorneys of color continue to be under-represented among partnership ranks at these firms. Thus, the presence of women comes nowhere near to matching their presence among law school graduates, which has ranged from 40% to almost half since the late 80's. Similarly, the percentage of minority graduates has doubled, from 10% to 20% during the same time period. Moreover, although the presence of women and attorneys of color at firms has increased each year since 1993, the first year for which NALP compiled this information, the total change since 1993 has only been marginal. At that time attorneys of color accounted for 2.55% of partners and women accounted for 12.27% of partners.

These are among the findings of NALP's recent analyses of the 2004-2005 NALP Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. The 2004-2005 Directory consists primarily of large firm listings and includes attorney demographic information for about 125,000 partners, associates, staff attorneys, senior attorneys, and summer associates in over 1,300 law offices nationwide.

The current information reveals that, nationally, women attorneys and attorneys of color are better represented in associate and summer associate ranks. Women attorneys hold 43.36% of associate or staff/senior attorney positions and attorneys of color hold 15.06% of these positions. Each group lags 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. Summer classes better reflect law school enrollment, with women comprising 47.74% and minorities comprising 20.15% of summer 2004 associates. It is worth noting that this year, for the first time since 1996, the presence of women in summer programs declined slightly. This tracks with a small decrease in the percentage of women enrolled at law schools nationwide in the year preceding the summer 2004 programs.

A parallel analysis of the 41 cities with the most attorneys represented in the Directory reveals 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 account for 8.24% and 7.04% of partners in these cities respectively, and women account for 18.62% and 21.31% of partners, respectively.

Among smaller cities, this is true of Miami, where women account for 20.03% of partners; attorneys of color, many of whom are Hispanic, account for 20.78% of partners. Some cities rank high on specific measures. For example, cities with relatively high percentages of women partners include: Denver, Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach, San Diego, and Seattle - all of whom report at least 19% women partners. Austin and San Jose have relatively high percentages of partners of color.

Offices in Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and the San Jose area rank highest on representation of attorneys of color among associates, where representation is one in five or greater. Representation of women among associates is highest in Baltimore, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle. Conversely, some cities, such as Birmingham, Charlotte, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Richmond, and Wilmington are below average on both measures, and considerably so with respect to associates of color.

Miami's higher representation of attorneys of color is also reflected in figures for summer associates; summer associates of color account for over one-third of those reported in the city. Other cities ranking relatively high on this measure include Denver, Portland, San Francisco, the San Jose area, and Seattle.

A similar analysis of 8 states with substantial Directory representation beyond that for specific cities also yields interesting findings. Representation of attorneys of color among partners is highest in California, Florida and Texas, and considerably below average in Kentucky, New Jersey, Michigan, Nevada, and New York. Michigan, Nevada, and New York are also well below average with respect to minority representation among associates. Conversely, Michigan, along with Kentucky, and Texas report the highest percentage of minority summer associates.

Women and Attorneys of Color at Law Firms — 2004

  Partners Associates Summer Associates # of Offices
Total # % Women % of Color Total # % Women % of Color Total # % Women % of Color
Nationwide 53,977 17.06 4.32 61,269 43.36 15.06 10,067 47.74 20.15 1,366
Firms of:
100 or fewer 7,880 16.64 4.44 5,666 41.25 11.35 905 49.83 12.82 287
101-250 14,261 16.90 3.35 12,398 42.39 11.79 1,903 46.40 16.82 283
251-500 13,431 17.41 3.77 14,108 43.62 13.60 2,249 48.29 19.70 339
501+ 18,405 17.10 5.43 29,097 44.07 17.90 5,010 47.62 22.93 457
Offices in:
Atlanta 1,564 16.82 5.31 1,866 43.78 13.56 388 48.97 19.85 38
Austin 368 18.75 6.52 366 39.34 14.48 73 42.47 8.22 18
Baltimore 535 17.94 2.62 371 47.98 10.24 46 47.83 23.91 10
Birmingham 628 17.36 2.55 382 34.82 6.28 156 43.59 9.62 11
Boston 1,820 17.47 3.52 2,284 45.53 12.22 378 50.79 19.05 31
Charlotte 497 10.87 2.62 467 36.62 6.85 97 44.33 14.43 16
Chicago 4,107 18.12 3.85 3,671 41.79 13.24 661 50.83 20.57 54
Cincinnati 493 16.23 2.03 395 43.80 5.32 72 47.22 19.44 11
Cleveland 630 15.24 3.02 684 39.77 5.70 106 46.23 7.55 11
Columbus 527 14.99 4.17 473 41.44 9.30 77 49.35 16.88 12
Dallas 1,319 17.82 3.18 1,641 39.49 11.03 394 46.95 12.94 36
Denver 632 23.58 4.11 509 48.13 10.81 63 49.21 28.57 22
Detroit area 946 18.39 3.81 599 43.57 10.35 69 44.93 21.74 16
Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach 227 19.82 4.41 171 46.20 11.11 6 83.33 16.67 10
Hartford 256 16.41 1.56 296 43.58 6.42 36 44.44 8.33 12
Houston 1,238 16.64 5.17 1,480 41.08 13.72 408 46.57 25.98 33
Indianapolis 478 15.69 2.30 397 48.61 6.55 46 41.30 19.57 7
Kansas City area 784 14.29 1.15 608 42.76 7.07 69 46.38 17.39 13
Los Angeles 2,282 18.62 8.24 3,238 45.86 23.22 549 43.90 23.13 76
Miami 669 20.03 20.78 510 45.10 37.06 71 54.93 35.21 22
Milwaukee 714 16.95 1.82 474 38.40 6.96 75 54.67 14.67 9
Minneapolis/St. Paul 1,247 18.68 2.25 848 46.70 9.32 142 52.82 16.20 19
Nashville 390 14.87 1.79 254 40.16 6.69 70 52.86 11.43 9
New York City 6,363 14.43 4.23 14,130 43.36 19.23 2,325 46.32 21.59 130
Newark 431 12.76 1.62 648 44.60 12.81 58 58.62 17.24 11
Northern Virginia 374 10.96 4.81 365 30.14 13.42 48 43.75 8.33 21
Orange Co., CA 464 12.50 3.88 624 38.14 19.39 115 33.04 14.78 26
Philadelphia 1,238 18.01 2.34 1,361 44.38 7.79 177 51.41 22.60 21
Phoenix 630 17.14 3.49 517 40.23 11.99 98 41.84 13.27 14
Pittsburgh 671 16.54 1.34 642 40.19 6.39 80 50.00 15.00 15
Portland, OR 520 17.50 2.12 360 42.22 7.22 39 46.15 33.33 16
Raleigh/Durham 216 17.13 1.85 187 42.25 5.35 23 52.17 0.00 11
Richmond 525 13.52 2.86 409 37.65 7.58 65 43.08 10.77 9
San Diego 452 19.91 5.09 590 43.22 18.14 77 55.84 20.78 17
San Francisco 1,577 21.31 7.04 1,995 49.62 21.50 289 56.06 29.76 59
San Jose area 684 16.96 9.94 1,368 40.86 25.80 220 47.27 33.18 31
Seattle area 1,012 19.07 5.14 742 45.82 14.56 92 50.00 32.61 31
St. Louis 607 15.98 2.47 479 42.80 8.35 49 34.69 26.53 9
Tampa/St. Petersburg 391 14.32 4.09 277 42.96 12.27 41 48.78 14.63 13
Washington, D.C. 5,375 18.31 4.93 6,612 44.37 15.99 1,124 45.46 21.00 135
Wilmington 290 12.76 0.69 306 38.24 7.52 57 42.11 12.28 11
States:
Other areas in California 515 18.83 8.16 504 44.05 20.44 75 56.00 18.67 26
Other areas in Florida 422 16.35 6.87 268 46.27 19.03 35 54.29 14.29 13
Kentucky 499 17.43 1.00 293 40.61 7.51 46 36.96 23.91 7
Other areas in Michigan 426 13.38 2.11 233 40.34 6.44 40 52.50 25.00 14
Other areas in New Jersey 591 16.07 1.52 688 43.75 11.19 60 56.67 16.67 18
Nevada 123 18.70 1.63 151 41.72 7.28 31 45.16 9.68 12
Other areas in New York 700 15.43 1.57 603 40.96 5.80 52 57.69 9.62 13
Other areas in Texas 320 16.88 6.25 255 41.96 15.29 59 42.37 25.42 18

Note: For law firms that repeated firm-wide demographic information 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. Figures include a few offices in Canada, but exclude offices in Europe and Asia. The Kansas City area includes offices in Overland Park, KS. Orange County includes offices in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. The San Jose area includes offices in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, East 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 West Orange, and Roseland. State figures exclude cities reported separately.

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