NALP's law firm diversity report shows little progress being made

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) recently released its annual report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms and the picture continues to be anything but rosy. Here's the link: www.nalp.org/reportondiversity

Indeed, James Leipold, NALP's executive director was candid in his assessement, noting how it took a full 10 years for blacks and African-Americans to finally top pre-recession levels when it comes to law firm representation as associates. They now make up 4.76% compared to the 2009 number of 4.66%

“While that is a positive sign, it is barely so, and it strikes me as somewhat of a tragedy that it has taken more than 10 years to achieve such a meager benchmark, and it is notable that the number remains well below five percent,” Leipold said.

He continued: “The overall arc of the storyline for large law firm diversity remains the same — it is one of slow incremental gains for women and people of color in both the associate and partner ranks.

After studying the data in the annual report for more than 15 years, Leipold is convinced that “despite steady gains, great structural and cultural hurdles remain that prevent law firms from being able to measure more rapid progress in increasing diversity, particularly among the partnership ranks.”

The data in the report confirmed these trends, as women and people of color are best represented among summer associates, and well-represented among associates, but then leave the lawyer ranks each year after at a higher rate than white men, culminating in dramatic underrepresentation among equity partners, with just one in five equity partners being women and only 7.6% of equity partners being people of color.

The extent of this underrepresentation is highlighted in the numbers of women partners from specific racial or ethnic groups:

- Asian women make up only 1.46% of partners,

- Latinx women make up 0.80% of partners, and 

- Black or African-American women make up just 0.75% of partners.

- Read the full 2019 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms at www.nalp.org/reportondiversity.

 

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