Most Firms Now Collect GLBT Lawyer Information, Yet Overall Numbers Remain Low

NALP Bulletin, December 2006 

The number of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) lawyers reported in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) rose again in 2006, as it has every year since NALP began analyzing this information in 2003. Overall, however, the numbers remain relatively small. Four years ago, the number of openly gay lawyers reported in the 2002-2003 NDLE was just over 1,100, less than 1% of the total lawyers represented. Last year, in the 2005-2006 NDLE, those numbers stood at 1,458 and 1.18%. In the 2006-2007 NDLE, the number of openly GLBT attorneys now stands at 1,733, 1.42% of the total lawyers represented in the most recent directory.

The presence of GLBT attorneys is highest among associates, at 1.78%, as shown in the accompanying table, a jump from the figure of 1.44% reported in 2005. Openly GLBT attorneys are also better represented at larger law firms, with firms of 501-700 lawyers reporting 2.45% openly GLBT associates, and firms of 701+ lawyers reporting 2.29% openly GLBT associates. Similarly, openly GLBT attorneys are best represented in the partnership ranks at the nation’s largest firms, with firms of 701+ attorneys reporting 1.73% openly GLBT partners, compared with only 1.11% among partners overall.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are wide geographic disparities in these numbers, and in fact about 60% of the reported openly GLBT lawyers are accounted for by just four cities: New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The overall percentage of openly GLBT lawyers in these cities is correspondingly higher — about 2.2% compared with the 1.4% nationwide figure.

While the jump in the nationwide GLBT figure from 1.18% percent of all lawyers in 2005 to 1.42% in 2006 seems like a relatively large jump, some of the increases in total counts reflect a larger number of offices/firms listing in the NDLE in 2006. Also, some of the increase in percentages reflects changes in reporting procedures that make it easier to exclude from analyses firms which do not collect this information.

Refined data collection procedures starting with the 2006 NDLE meant that firms could no longer leave the GLBT cells blank in the demographic grid. Instead, firms were required to report a number, which could be zero, or to choose “not collected” or “unknown.” As a result, about 7% of offices chose to report “not collected” or “unknown” for GLBT counts. Put another way, about 93% of firms/offices reported counts for GLBT lawyers. (It should be noted, however, that reported counts of zero do not unambiguously mean zero, since the default entry was zero and had to be changed in order to reflect either another number, or “not collected” or “unknown.”)

Nevertheless, it is clear that more firms are reporting GLBT attorney data than ever before, and the overall number of GLBT attorneys reported is higher than ever before. NALP has been collecting demographic information on GLBT attorneys since 1996. In the ten years that have followed, the number of firms that give their GLBT attorneys an opportunity to self-identify has continued to rise. This year, among the offices/firms reporting counts, just over one-third (38%) reported at least one openly GLBT lawyer, and 6% reported at least one openly GLBT summer associate.

Reported Number of Disabled Lawyers Also Remains Small

Of the approximately 132,000 attorneys collectively reported in the 2006-2007 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE), just 200, or 0.17%, were identified as disabled, as shown in the accompanying table. Overall, about 10% of offices/firms reported at least one disabled lawyer, but less than 1% reported at least one disabled summer associate. In fact, out of more than 11,000 summer associates, only 10 were reported as disabled.

Unlike the GLBT figures reported above, the numbers of reported attorneys who are disabled do not seem to vary significantly either by firm size, or by associate/partner status, with the numbers reported being very low in virtually every category.

About 8% of offices chose to report “not collected” or “unknown” for disabled counts, and of the approximately 92% of the offices that reported a count (including zero), about 10% reported at least one disabled lawyer, but less than 1% reported at least one disabled summer associate.

Reporting of Openly GLBT and Disabled Lawyers

NALP Directory of Legal Employers 2006


ALL FIRMS FIRMS OF 100 OR FEWER LAWYERS FIRMS OF 101-250 LAWYERS FIRMS OF 251-500 LAWYERS FIRMS OF 501-700 LAWYERS FIRMS OF 701+ LAWYERS
# Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total # Reported % of Total
Openly GLBT:
Partners 618 1.11% 76 0.94% 122 0.80% 120 0.92% 66 1.17% 234 1.73%
Associates 979 1.78 59 1.04 131 1.18 167 1.43 187 2.45 435 2.29
All lawyers 1,733 1.42 143 0.95 278 0.95 311 1.12 280 1.90 721 2.04
Summer associates 129 1.27 1 0.08 9 0.53 19 0.89 37 2.36 63 1.66
Disabled:
Partners 98 0.18 14 0.17 32 0.20 21 0.16 13 0.23 18 0.15
Associates 73 0.14 5 0.09 13 0.11 8 0.07 19 0.25 27 0.16
All lawyers 200 0.17 21 0.14 53 0.18 36 0.13 37 0.25 52 0.27
Summer associates 10 0.10 0 0.00 0 0.00 2 0.09 2 0.12 6 0.17

Note: Figures for openly GLBT lawyers are based on 1,414 offices/firms reporting counts, including zero; figures for openly GLBT summer associates are based on 1,376 offices/firms reporting counts, including zero. Figures for disabled lawyers are based on 1,396 offices/firms reporting counts, including zero; figures for disabled summer associates are based on 1,385 offices/firms reporting counts, including zero. Overall, GLBT counts, including zero, were reported for 122,203 lawyers and 10,142 summer associates. Counts of disabled individuals, including zero, were reported for 119,005 lawyers and 10,092 summer associates.

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