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Dallas Study Finds Diversity is Way Down at Big Law
Not only must law firms strive in the most difficult legal market in over a decade, but they must be diverse while they do so, hiring new partners based not primarily on how they compete with their colleagues, but upon their racial background. In this regard, the Dallas Diversity Task Force 2013 found that law firms are slipping, and that the amount of diversity in law firms isn’t what it was even a year ago.
“Clearly, the results are not good,” said Rosa Orenstein, who helped produce the study for the African-America, Hispanic and Asian bar associations of Dallas, as reported by Dallas News. “I know the wheels of justice turn slowly, but diversity in Dallas is improving at a glacial pace. In fact, the situation has become regressive. We have to try to figure out what is going on and how to fix it.”
What is going on includes that fact that only 1 percent of the 799 equity partners in Dallas big law are African American, with 13 of the 19 firms having no African American partner, and five having only one, while 2.5 percent are Hispanic, with 8 having no Hispanic partners. And among those minority partners their attrition rate is double that of white partners while their retention rate falters, with nonwhite partners leaving more than twice as much as whites.
“Many of us felt 15 years or so ago that we were on a real trajectory toward improvement, but these numbers are very depressing,” said Rob Walters, managing partner of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher in Dallas. “At the end of the day, lawyers stay at their law firm because they are successful there, but minorities are leaving because they don’t feel they are experiencing that success. That’s where law firms need to focus.”
That, and staying competitive in an especially bleak market, one would suppose.