Tips on collecting demographic info

The information provided in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers and NALP Directory of Law Schools provides an excellent resource for students and candidates to learn about the organization. The demographics section is an essential snapshot of an organization's environment, diversity and culture.

The 2019-2020 NDLE/NDLS Work Group recommended changes to the demographics and other sections of the NALP Directory of Law Schools and NALP Directory of Legal Employers. Click here to read the memo outlining the changes.


How to collect demographic information

Visual surveys may be the most commonly used method of demographic data collection, but they are also the least accurate. You can help ensure accuracy by allowing students and attorneys to self-identify for all the demographic categories, including gender identity, gay and lesbian information, and ethnicity.

The most important point to remember in collecting demographic information is the need to respect an individual's choice about whether to self-identify. Collecting demographic information by anonymous questionnaire allows the process to be impartial and free of judgments.


How to report demographic information

All of NALP’s demographic categories, including the LGBTQ and disabled categories, are required fields. The acceptable entries in these fields are numerals (including 0) and the abbreviations "NC" for "not collected" and "UNK" for "unknown." Please note that there is comment box in the demographics section that will allow you to provide any additional breakouts, comments or definitions regarding your lawyers or categories as needed, including individuals who choose not to identify.


Race/ethnicity categories collected by NALP

In February 2007, NALP's Board of Directors voted to adopt, with minor modifications, the EEOC race/ethnicity demographic categories for inclusion in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers. The  EEOC categories are listed below, and for your reference have been annotated with the definitions published by the OMB in the October 30, 1997 Federal Register. Note in particular that "White" includes individuals of Middle Eastern and North African origin.

  • Latinx — A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
  • White — A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
  • Black or African American — A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander — A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
  • Asian — A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Native American or Alaska Native — A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
  • Two or More Races — A person who self-reports as belonging to more than one racial category.

Special notes on the importance of collecting LGBTQ demographics

Although the federal government does not collect information on LBGTQ status, NALP has long included this demographic category on the NALP Form and began collecting it on the NDLS form in 2011. Only by fully reporting on all demographic categories, including gay and lesbian information, will an organization provide an accurate picture of the diversity of its work force or enrollment. Moreover, client requests for demographic data are becoming more common as corporations focus on diversity; thus, not providing this information could cost your organization an important client. Beginning in 2011 this information will be collected for law schools as well as for employers.

Accurately completing the form is an inexpensive but very real way to support the gay and lesbian attorneys in your organization and is an effective tool in the recruitment and retention of diverse attorneys. Further, it is better to report “0” than to list “NC” (not collected) or “UNK” (unknown). By listing zero you are indicating to law students and attorneys that you have conducted a thoughtful inquiry into the representation of LGBTQ employees at your workplace and that you would likely welcome applications from qualified students and professionals who do identify as LGBTQ. A report that states that the information is not collected or is unknown suggests that your organization does not recognize or support gay and lesbian attorneys or students.


Additional information for law schools on collecting demographic information

Additional information for employers on collecting demographic information

NALP Research on Diversity Categories

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